Sony had their Playstation 4 press conference on the 20th of February. Some have wondered why the seemingly sudden announcement. Personally, I think it’s a good sign. Sony actually recognizes that they’re in trouble. They used to dismiss signs of trouble with the wave of an imperious hand. Now they’re reacting to a problem like any crisis manager would advise them to do. They went out and replaced bad news with good. They replaced rumors with facts. They took control of their narrative. Those are all good, but the most important rule of crisis management is to stop the bleeding. Don’t do any more stupid. Sony could use a break from stupid.
I admit that I have fond memories of Sony. They ruled the electronics hardware world for a while. Just about any Sony product you could buy was a quality product. Yes, they started charging a premium for that quality, but it felt worth it. I had a ton of Sony products back in the day, monitors, camcorders, diskmen, TV’s and, of course, Playstations. The fondest memories were from the Playstation 2. Action games, fighting games, RPG’s and JRPG’s, and strategy games, I played them all on my faithful PS2.
It seemed like Sony could do no wrong. Unfortunately, Sony started to think that way too. They made a whole series of decisions that reeked of arrogance. It didn’t help that they had a new generation of competitors nipping at their heels. When those competitors caught up on quality and beat Sony on price a reckoning was coming. With the disastrous launch of the PS3, it had arrived.
For a while, it seemed like they retreated into their shell. Bad behavior and financial losses abounded. It became obvious the problem wouldn’t be solved without the culture changing. Slowly that seemed to be happening. The Vita was a great product at a reasonable price point. Unfortunately, the market had changed. It might still be saved with a strong PS4 environment and the announced tie in capabilities. A price drop wouldn’t hurt either.
Based on the announcement, the Playstation 4 is much further down that road even than the Vita. The entire announcement, however clumsy, was a love letter to game developers. The PS4 is actually a reasonable answer to the complaints developers had with the PS3. It’s a standard X86 environment with standard libraries but still allowing close access to the metal. It’s got a faster drive, more and faster memory. Most of the developer commentary indicates it will be easier to program than either the Xbox 360 or its successor.
Regardless of whether it’s the most powerful console this coming generation, this new attitude could save Sony if it hasn’t come too late. I hope it isn’t because, I’d like to make some more memories.