How Sony’s PS4 came to dominate the market

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As of January 2015, Sony has sold more than 18.5 million units of their PlayStation 4 game console worldwide. Released in November of 2013, Sony’s PS4 quickly established itself as the fastest selling console of all time, outpacing previous highest-selling consoles like the PlayStation 2 and the Nintendo Wii. After enduring slightly troubled consumer waters with their PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita, Sony’s PS4 is a hit few had expected. In this article, we’ll analyze some of the reasons why the console became such a hot product.

Lackluster Competition

One of the main contributing factors in the PS4’s success early on was a lack of strong competition. When Nintendo first announced the Wii U, many people believed the Wii U would build on the success and popularity of the original Wii. Unfortunately, the Wii U failed to attract an immediate audience due to Nintendo’s botched marketing efforts, which led to confusion among consumer about whether or not the Wii U was a new console, or simply an add-on to the Wii. Furthermore, the console’s hardware is significantly under-powered when compared to PS4 and the Xbox One specs, resulting in even weaker third-party support.

On the other hand, Microsoft’s Xbox One received negative press the moment it was announced. Unfriendly consumer practices such as the always-online DRM and the inability to share games with others quickly labeled the console as an unfavorable product. In addition, the console was priced higher than the PS4, making the Xbox One’s pricing beyond the budget of most gamers.  Although most of these issues were eventually rectified, the damage that Microsoft had brought upon themselves was already done.

"No competition" - from PS4 indie title 'Octodad: Dadliest Catch'

“No competition!” – from PS4 indie title ‘Octodad: Dadliest Catch’

Games

Games, of course, are a deciding factor for many people when deciding what console to purchase, and in this department the PS4 nailed it. Unlike the PS3, which required months of waiting before a batch of exciting titles would be released, Sony made certain that the PS4 would arrive with a myriad of notable indie games like Outlast, Fez, and Towerfall: Ascension fast on the heels of the console’s launch. Strong support from bigger developers also meant the PS4 saw a healthy stream of AAA game releases. While some may argue that most games coming out on the PS4 were simply ports of old games or ones already available on the PS3, the PS3 had been on the market for almost a decade and people were ready for something new. For reasons already stated, the PS4 was clearly the most favorable option.

Bundling in popular games helped contribute to the PS4's success

Bundling in popular games helped contribute to the PS4’s success

Hardware

It was obvious that the PS4 was priced lower than the Xbox One, but better hardware too? Yep, the PS4 housed a superior GPU that led to PS4 multi-platform titles that mostly trumped its Xbox One counterparts in both visuals and performance. While this would mean very little to the average consumer, hardcore gaming communities quickly took notice and comparing resolutions and frame rates became the name of the game.

Stronger hardware meant games looked sharper on the PS4

Stronger hardware meant games looked sharper on the PS4

In the end…

It was just that simple. With Microsoft busy playing take-backs with their console and Nintendo seemingly targeting a different demographic, all Sony had to do was flaunt their new shiny box. Better pricing, healthy game support, and superior hardware meant that advertising was all they needed to do. Once the PS4 achieved the image of a stronger brand among gamers, the sales began to flood in.

Although Microsoft’s Xbox One finally bounced back in the holiday season with stellar sales after the price cut and finally outsold the PS4 in November, Microsoft has a LOT of ground to cover, even with the momentum it has. For Sony, there is no better way to celebrate their PlayStation’s 20th anniversary than seeing its latest iteration thrive even after being two decades on the market.

About Author

Won Jun Ma was born in South Korea and raised in Irvine, CA. He moved up to Santa Barbara, CA to study English and Math at UC Santa Barbara. He is an avid gamer who follows the video game industry. Won has a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, enjoys going on lengthy hikes, and considers himself a hip hop junkie by and large. He also likes playing various tunes on his clarinet; but what he would actually like to do is learn how to jam on the harmonica like a pro.

3 Comments

  1. tututtta@gmail.com'
    GRIBBLE GRUNGER on

    Another stupid A-hole question on who “came” “wins” “won” “tops” “kills” “destroys” bla and bla. Consoles or games aren’t humans/animals nor sport teams. It’s like saying “my speedy toyota wins because it has sold more in galaxy than your crappy ford” or vice versa…

    Don’t call it a figurative-expression either. It’s a nonsensical marketing gimmick to fool you. Be smarter.

    Too many idiot gamers are being manipulated by smart corps, or salesmen-in-gamer-clothes who are more concerned about fking numbers/sales than playing games. Dem desperation is too strong.

  2. veralapaloma@mail.com'

    By lying and overhyping their low end budget hardware box and making people that are easily fooled fall for it, that’s how.

  3. corvusmd@hotmail.com'

    The simple answer is hype. There isn’t anything “wrong” with PS4, I have one…and I like it, but so far the exclusives have been disappointing and it looks to stay that way until UC4 for the most part. 2014 was the year of “Shiny but Shallow”….sacrificing everything to be able to write 1080p on the package. 2015 looks to be more numbers and less quality….except this time it’s using a lot of timed indie games to be able to say that they have the most exclusives…even though most of them will be over-shadowed. There’s nothing “wrong” with PS4, but it really just excelled from the hype of MS shooting itself in the foot out of the gate…the it’s “my friend has a PS4”.

    It seems that most people that own both PS4 and X1 actually do most of their gaming on X1. This is also supported by the fact that X1 has a higher games attach ratio and that in the first year X1s were used for gaming twice as much (1 billion hours more). Sony has a significant lead at the moment, but as the gen goes on I can see things leveling out at some point…it’ll take a while, but the fact is that gamers “want it all” and the majority of them will want all the consoles by the end of the gen…if trends continue…then once more people (and their friends) have X1’s…then sales will even out a bit more.

    Who KNOWS how this gen will go? However, it wouldn’t be hard for me to believe at this point that sales could significantly shift by the end of the gen. The more people get X1’s, the more they realize they are a great system….they tell their friends…their friends get one….and it snowballs. Part of the reason MS probably didn’t mind going back to their original price for now (also the fact that the first quarter is always slow anyway).