Media giant and computer hardware company SONY has begun to release information regarding their next generation console, the PlayStation 4. Many critics believe that Sony’s new console will fail to meet expectations due to the rise in mobile gaming on tablets and phones.
However, it is a mistake to think that the rise of mobile gaming is the downfall of console gaming; instead it should an extension of the gaming market. Sony’s new PlayStation 4 will be a success because the “core gamer” target market will always demand high quality gaming experiences, it will integrate features for mobile and smart devices, and Sony already has a foot in mobile market with the PlayStation VITA.
Despite the fact mobile gaming is becoming prevalent there is still a high demand for console gaming in the gaming market. The hardcore gaming segments, also known as “core gamers”, have been keeping the home console industry profitable. These “core gamers” have a high degree of brand loyalty usually purchase a new home console when they are released. I know that I am one of these brand loyal consumers. While gaming on a tablet or phone is fun, the experience is nothing compared to sitting a home, and playing a game on a console.
These “core gamers” are still demanding the high quality gaming experience that home consoles such as the PlayStation 4 can provide. Over the past year, software sales for the Sony PlayStation 3 and the Microsoft Xbox 360 have declined by less than 10% (Levine, BusinessWeek). Furthermore, when digital sales for consoles are factored, console game sales are only reporting a single digit loss in sales. Even this small decline can attributed to the fact that these consoles are reaching the end of their life cycles, which typically last six to seven years. Sony’s PlayStation 4 should provide a boost home console and software sales.
Even if initial sales lag behind for the PlayStation 4, this is not unusual for the home console industry. Initial sales for consoles are usually lower in the first year. In the year following its launch, the PlayStation 3 had $3.6 million dollars in sales compared to $12.8 million in sales in 2008, and $22.9 million in 2009 (Sony Software). As more software is released and the trends transfer from “early adopters” to the majority of the market, things begin to pick up for the video game industry.
However, Sony is not blind to the fact that mobile gaming is on the rise. However, instead of seeing that mobile gaming is killing their industry, Sony is instead embracing mobile devices and using them as a complement to their PlayStation 4 console. A recent study shows that 24% of gamers play games across multiple screens including home console and mobile devices, a number that has been increasing each year since 2009 (Nielsen). To address this, the PlayStation 4 will have a “second-screen” app that will connect the PlayStation 4 with your smart phone. The app will enable players to interact with their games using the mobile devices in-game and while they are out. The app will also allow gamers to share footage of their game play, share stats and scores, and integrate their mobile experience with their home console experience (The Verge). With more and more gamers using home consoles and mobile devices, this new feature is sure to drive more sales of the PlayStation 4.
Finally, Sony already has a product that competes in the mobile market. Sony’s PlayStation VITA device is a portable gaming system that has capabilities similar to an iPad. The VITA can play music, movies, shows, and much higher quality games than a mobile phone or tablet can. Furthermore, the VITA is already well integrated with the Sony PlayStation 3, and will be further integrated with PlayStation 4. The device will allow users to play their Sony games from their PlayStation 3s and 4s on the go on their PlayStation VITA (Sony).
To ensure their success, Sony needs to make sure that their PlayStation 4 will meet the needs of the “core gaming” market. This market segment has proven to be the most brand loyal, and has purchased the majority of their consoles for generations. If Sony wishes to capture the attention of more people that are interested in tablet and phone gaming, they will have to show these consumers that the PlayStation 4 is integrating these features. In their marketing campaigns, they will need to show consumers that they are paying attention to the trends in the industry, and they are addressing the needs of all of both of these market segments. This will allow Sony to capture the dollars of both their brand loyal core consumers, and the majority of the gaming market in today’s industry.
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