The Average Gamer

What Sony’s PS4 Event Learnt from Nintendo

PlayStation 4 - Nothing Between You and The GameSony revealed the PlayStation 4 a couple of weeks ago. Many people expected it, even more hoped for it, but Sony’s future of Playstation was more than just the reveal of a new console. That happens every few years.

Sony’s event was much more than that; it marked the first game console to get a huge two-hour reveal outside of E3. It marked the first time that Sony made a very clear attempt to emulate something Nintendo did first and managed to surpass them. Sony has taken the lessons taught by Nintendo’s online streaming Nintendo Direct videos and turned the format into a way to completely exceed all expectations put onto them and shown how you can get get every gamer to stop and pay attention to what you have in mind.

I’m getting ahead of myself a little so let’s take a step back. A few years ago rumours started to circulate that Nintendo was working on a new home console to follow up the Wii. Descriptions of a controller with a tablet style touch screen began hitting gaming sites and Nintendo decided to pre-empt things by announcing their new console would be shown off a few months later at E3. No further information was given, rumours of a console that would eclipse the PS3 and 360 in terms of performance became commonplace and Nintendo’s Project Cafe was built up to be the ultimate console for the hardcore gamer.

E3 rolled around and we saw the controller and a vague sizzle reel. We saw some tech demos but the Wii U was far from the focus of Nintendo’s conference and there was very little shown that would translate into actual games.

Since then, Nintendo has begun to showcase news and announcements outside of E3 using a series of online streamed videos featuring key members of the company, titled Nintendo Direct.

Nintendo Direct - Satoru IwataSome of these have been used to give us more information on titles we already know about, others have revealed multiple new games like the recent Wii U Direct which announced a new MonolithSoft JRPG, an HD Wind Waker remake and that both a Wii U Mario Kart and a 3D Mario title for Wii U would be shown in playable form at this year’s E3. It started to look like Nintendo had something good on their hands and knew how to build excitement for their brand. That’s where Sony took the lessons it had learnt from watching Nintendo and potentially diffused any excitement built up for their press conference.

Step one for Sony: produce your own “Sony Direct”-style videos. They may only be in the early stages of this, but recently Sony held an online presentation for Japanese gamers where they announced several new Vita titles that were in development. This showed me something – Sony can pull these videos off too. Nintendo’s edge is slipping away in that regard.

Step two: announce your console before E3. Nintendo had the right idea, announcing the Wii U before E3. It allowed them to get some hype built for the system and dispel some of the rumours surrounding it. The problem was that all they announced was that an announcement was coming at E3, they left a lot of questions unanswered. By failing to give an idea of specs, by failing to dedicate time to showing us what the hardware could do besides just play games and by being as early to announce as they were, the steam they had built up all dissipated. People filled in the blanks with their dream answers and only left themselves room for disappointment and they had too long to wait to see what retail games would look like.

Playstation 4 - Vita SharingSony nailed these problems. They announced their new console, showed us technical details, showed us several amazing features then spent over an hour and a half showing us the games in development for the console, showing us what developers had in the works, showing games that no other system had announced for them. Sony answered every question it needed to so that expectations for E3 were realistic and impressed us while doing it.

Step three: copy your competitor’s main selling point. Sony has a history for trying to emulate Nintendo, that much is a fact. The easiest example to show off is the Playstation Move, which is a clear attempt at emulating the Wii remote. Sony has traditionally been late to the party with its emulations of Nintendo strategies, but the PS4, when paired with a Vita, will emulate the Wii U Off-TV Play functionality from launch day. Sure, it requires you owning two expensive devices, but gamers will have a more powerful alternative to the Wii U if they’re looking for a way to play games away from the TV.

I think Sony has recently shown that it knows how to step up its game. For the first time they’re copying Nintendo, but taking the initiative to improve upon what is working for the big N and turning it into strengths for themselves.

What do you think? Do you feel that Sony is outshining Nintendo in these regards? Do you have any other observations to add? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.