This year Sony are expected to lose $6.4 billion and lay off 10000 employees. This will not only mark their biggest loss so far but it will also be the fourth year in a row which has caused them to run at a loss. Of course the problem encompasses Sony as a whole and not just their gaming division but here I will focus on what it could mean for the world of gaming.
With the PS2 Sony created the worlds most successful gaming console and both it’s successor and predecessor have been incredibly successful. They also released the high selling PSP and boast a vast list of first party developers and exclusive games. At the moment, if you are a hardcore gamer then, whether you are a fan or not, they really are the kings of gaming. With all this bad news though, can it really last?
The Vita so far has been a dismal failure and Sony aren’t showing signs of even attempting to turn it around, there are virtually no adverts for it, not many shops here in the U.K stock it (I.e. Tesco etc.) there is no sign of a price cut and it still doesn’t really have any huge games. On top of this the PS3 seems to be gradually losing momentum, Insomniac, creators of Rachet and Clank and Resistance are going third party and Santa Monica studios, the developers behind God of War, are considering going third party as well. On top of this notable studios such as Zipper Interactive, the developers behind Socom, MAG and Unit 13 have been closed down and, although there are some exclusives coming over the next year there is nothing that can really match the magnitude of last year’s Uncharted 3 or Killzone 3.
In short the PS3 is gradually slowing in pace and the Vita doesn’t seem to be going anywhere fast, this means that many people are looking toward the next generation, but what, if anything, will Sony offer? The world of gaming has changed drastically since the release of the PS3, digital gaming, phone and tablet gaming, as well as casual gaming have all seen a huge rise in popularity. Retailers such as GAME are struggling to stay open and consoles as an all round entertainment hub can’t do much more than they currently do in terms of offering TV, film, photo and online services. Short of a huge graphical boost and a massive change in direction in terms of how games are distributed (a Sony app store, more focus on downloaded games and perhaps even streaming games) there is little that Sony can do with a PS4 and with the market how it is there is very little chance of it actually being profitable.
This seems to be reflected in their reluctance to even tease a next generation console, perhaps they aren’t even planning one? If they aren’t then the world of console gaming will be a drastically different place. Let’s face it, Microsoft’s next console is likely to be a while because of the success of Kinect and when it does come it will probably be even more Kinect heavy and causal gamer oriented. This will mean Nintendo will be left to cater to the hardcore gamers and will really be the only console that still resembles (albeit remotely thanks to its tablet controller) what gaming looks like today.
I hope Sony do manage to turn things around and I know it’s about their whole company and not just the gaming side of it but, certainly for the foreseeable future at least, the future looks dark for Sony and the PlayStation brand.