PlayStation vs Xbox: Sony's plan to compete? Stay on course

PlayStation vs Xbox: Sony's plan to compete? Stay on course

PlayStation vs Xbox

The unstoppable phenomenon of empty shelves and touts with absurd overcharges of the last six months or so I think they said everything we needed to know but this week we had another confirmation: both Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 are doing quite well. good.

Sony and Microsoft's financial results have given us varying degrees of detail on console sales but in both cases it could be summed up with the term "solid", actually record breaking. The hardware is selling faster than companies are able to produce it and despite the global shortage of semiconductors that is crippling the production chain, the volumes moved are enough to give life to what will probably be the generation of consoles to sell the most. fast of all time.

In addition, both companies are also seeing growing numbers for their subscription services. A very important fact, especially for Microsoft, which has linked much of its strategy for this generation to transforming Xbox into a videogame service less and less focused on precise hardware.

The real competition between the two sides, the the point where they will start stealing consumers from each other for reasons other than availability alone remains a long way off

So for now everything is going great but it's accurate to say that the real competition between these platforms hasn't really started yet. Even as installed bases near the 10 million mark, few if any of the shoppers who've braved touts, sweepstakes, and overcrowded retailer sites to actually get their hands on the new consoles will have really made a choice between Xbox and PlayStation. These are probably early adopters who intend to buy both consoles sooner or later or super fans who are fully involved in the ecosystem of one of the consoles and would never seriously think about buying the other. The real competition between the two sides, where they will start stealing consumers from each other for a reason beyond mere availability remains a long way off. Nonetheless both companies are looking to that future competition, they are preparing their own plans to deal with it and while each has a slightly different vision of what the future of the console market will be, the need for high-profile, high-quality video games to attract players to machines and services remains crucial for both PlayStation and for Xbox. Crucial exactly as it has always been for every console made.

Microsoft, which from this point of view is undoubtedly behind but is clearly determined to change things, has made significant investments in development studies but, perhaps tacitly admitting that none of these investments would pay off for quite some time, the company fired what is arguably the biggest competitive shot of the generation so far with the Bethesda acquisition. Doing so has secured Microsoft a major publisher with a popular IP library and reasonably large throughput. And while not everything will likely be an absolute Xbox exclusive, it's obvious (and clearly stated) that the intention of the acquisition is to feed the Game Pass, the core service of the Xbox ecosystem.

Both consoles next-gen are selling well to early adopters and longtime fans but the battle for a wider audience has yet to begin The industry awaited the inevitable: the acquisition of Bethesda is a major upheaval in the competitive landscape and Sony must have planned several possible answers. Don't underestimate how important the Zenimax acquisition is. A console maker buying a large all-inclusive publisher is something genuinely new and quite destabilizing for the industry.

Don't underestimate how important the Zenimax acquisition is. A console maker buying a major publisher is something genuinely new and quite destabilizing for the industry

Previously, in the past few decades, the most significant acquisition by a console maker is Microsoft buying Rare, at the time known by many as Nintendo's second party studio. However important as it was he was only a developer and on balance the move had very little impact on the overall industry. Bethesda is a much, much bigger deal. Even if many of Bethesda's video games were to appear on PS5 as well (absolutely possible and perhaps even probable) "pay € 80 on PlayStation or get it for free with Game Pass" will be a marketing phrase with sure impact even before considering the likelihood of content. and Xbox exclusive or temporal exclusive features. Consequently there is understandable interest in understanding how Sony will respond to this gauntlet. Therefore, Sony's results were particularly interesting in order to get any clues that might be revealing on this front.

The most we have ultimately achieved is the comment from Sony CFO Hiroki Totoki regarding the fact that the company plans to invest heavily in its internal studios. , rather standard comment in an investor meeting but a comment that has become much more interesting when you consider the money Totoki has associated with that investment.

The increase in staffing in studies first- party brings with it a figure of $ 180 million for this year. This is not the total budget but just the year-over-year increase, which implies a rather dramatic growth rate for Sony's existing studios and probably the creation of entirely new studios as well. Coupled with Totoki's mention of a renewed focus on second party relationships, Sony's strategy seems clear: exclusives, exclusives, exclusives but with an emphasis on the kind of exclusives that are created rather than those that are acquired. >
This makes sense, after all the main motivation that drove Microsoft to acquire Zenimax must have been witnessing Sony drop hit after hit in the last few years of the console's life by recognizing how difficult it was to reach or surpass that kind of proposition. .

The Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart showcase further demonstrated the absolute dedication to the highest quality first-party releases and exclusives that entice you to buy PS5 The recent storm in a glass regarding the alleged decision of not approving a Days Gone sequel only highlights how extraordinary Sony's first and second party proposal was; Days Gone was a good quality and well made video game that is dull only in comparison with the exceptional hits that other Sony studios have been able to shape during the same period. Given that he wasn't a big hit in the line-up, it's understandable that he's not getting a sequel. It is also not wrong to say that if Days Gone had been an Xbox title it would have been absolutely a highlight of the line-up, a fact that only illustrates even better the steep slope Microsoft will have to climb from this point of view and the reason for it. which has decided to spend billions to leap to the top with a major acquisition.

Sony's plan is to stay on course, compete with Microsoft by continuing the journey towards becoming more than just a manufacturer of a platform but one of the largest and most important video game publishers

That big acquisition actually changes the structure of the industry as it increases the stakes and for Sony it can take on in some ways the connotations of an existential threat. Certainly within the company various possible answers have been discussed and considered, for example there has been talk of the possible acquisition of Square Enix but Totoki's comments seem to clarify that Sony's immediate response will be to keep the course, aiming with much more force. exactly on the strategies that have made a good part of the PS4 life cycle one of the most drastically successful periods of creative and commercial level in console history.

If that's enough to face the competition of a gaming division of a Microsoft that is selling a fantastic console with an absolute level of service and that is willing to open the wallet to invest in exclusives, is another matter entirely. There is, however, a long-term logic to Sony's approach that is worth keeping in mind. The company wants the PlayStation 5 to be a success of course but in ten, fifteen or twenty years it is almost impossible to say what the console business will look like (or even if there will be a form that vaguely resembles the current one).

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Certainly it is quite certain that the companies that control the most important catalogs of valuable IPs and the skills and knowledge to make the most of them will certainly fare well. This is because while Sony's investment will likely mean doubling down on some of the company's old and new franchises, it is also likely to mean major investments in several new IPs because expanding and building your IP catalog is one of the best ways. with which Sony can defend itself from the competition and market upheavals of the years to come.

At the moment not everything seems to make complete sense. The reorganization of Japan Studio and the apparent willingness to let go of remarkable talents by letting them simply vanish into thin air is something I cannot genuinely understand when faced with the intention to increase development in other areas. That could be a result of the company itself still understanding exactly what it needs to do to meet the challenge posed by the Zenimax acquisition and the possible threat of further large future acquisitions from Microsoft.

For now, however, the plan Sony wants to compete with in this generation is simple and bold: it will stay the course by competing with Microsoft as it continues its journey towards becoming not just a console maker but one of the world's leading publishers. major and important in the world.

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