Sony Launches PlayStation 4 with renewed focus on ‘Play’

By Konstantine Roccas, Staff Writer

On Friday, Sony officially launched the fourth iteration of its PlayStation platform amid much hype and excitement among the PS faithful. With a renewed focus on the ‘play’ aspect of console gaming, Sony promises a much more streamlined user experience while evading many of the early growing pains they experienced with the PlayStation 3 (PS3) launch in 2006.

When it launched in 2006, the PS3 was Sony’s first foray into the realm of high definition gaming. With a marketing slogan that promised, ‘everything’ Sony made an attempt to cater to all possible crowds with the PS3. The launch version had backwards compatibility, four USB inputs, SD inputs, a new processing architecture, bluetooth and many more bells and whistles, including a built in Blu-ray player. The only catch was that it was expensive. The PS3 at launch in Canada retailed for $659.99

In addition to the price, the PS3 was hampered by a lack of software titles early on because the system was built around the cell architecture which, “was complicated to use and the developers found it really tough to get to grips with,” says Dominic Mallinson VP of R&D for PlayStation.

With the advent of the PS4 though, Sony decided to take a different approach. From the first unveiling of the system back in February, Sony was insistent that the PS4 be built around developer satisfaction due to a friendly architecture as well as easy to access content and gaming experiences for the user.

Mallinson explains that when brainstorming for the PS4 began, “we asked ourselves a very important question, what does PlayStation stand for?” The answer they came up with  was that the brand is mostly about the gaming experience and that the PS4, “should push the boundaries of play.”

While the PS4 adds a variety of social interactivity tools, the PS4 will remain focused on the user experience. Sony is hoping that this, along with the $399.99 asking price and some terrible early publicity out of the Xbox camp, will woo gamers who may have drifted over to Microsoft’s Xbox 360  during the last console generation.

While it is too early to tell how the PS4 will be received in the long run, early reports are promising for Sony. The PS4 is reportedly sold out at all retailers as of November 16th.  Sony is taking the early success in stride and is forecasting five million units sold by March.

Investor reaction has been subdued on the PS4 launch with Sony closing at $18.50 a share on November 15 down .80 per cent from the previous day. It is to be noted that after-hours trading is trending up 1 per cent.

While nobody can predict the future, Sony has an early winner on their hands with the PlayStation 4. Even though Sony will have its hands full competing for Christmas dollars with Microsoft’s Xbox console scheduled to launch next week, Sony remains confident that their focus on ‘play’ will be enough to swing the tide comfortably in their favour this generation.

Konstantine Roccas is an observer of local and international affairs and governance, but also writes about anything else that piques his ire. He enjoys a half kilo of Greek yogurt daily. He writes for the Arbitrage Magazine and pens a blog about the absurdity of Canadian affairs. He can be followed on Twitter @KosteeRoccas.

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