While Sony are well within their right to charge customers for Next Gen upgrades, is it commercially the right response for the company in the long run?
Revolving doors would probably be the best way to describe what is exactly happening with Sony’s latest strategy. It certainly contrasts how we began a generation with Sony coming out of the gate looking mighty strong against its direct competitor. If we wind back the clock to 2013, Head of XBOX Don Mattrick was grilled online for the company’s inexcusable DRM practices, hoping PlayStation would eventually sit beside them and agree that both parties would protect their “investment” heading towards the next generation. Not only did a poised President of PlayStation, Shuhei Yoshida disagree with this notion, but made an emphatic statement by releasing their now notorious tutorial on “How to Share Games on your PS4“, with then Vice President of Developer Relations, all round good guy Adam Boyes.
Yeah it was a total dig at completely out of touch suit tried to impose on an established fanbase that wholly rejected their ass-backwards policy. Not only did this cost Mattrick his position as a high ranking executive at XBOX, bit in essence pushed him out of the industry completely. It became a running gag, almost a meme that now sits in the annals of XBOX history. The notorious interview conducted by well renowned industry insider Geoff Keighley at E3 2013, exposed Mattrick and his inconsideration for the company’s own consumer base. It essentially put their entire campaign into crisis mode, when Keighley questioned the studio’s DRM strategy to combat Piracy and Pre-owned gaming. Sure we could shoot the messenger, however it was Mattrick’s responsibility to encourage users to purchase the XBOX at launch.
With Keighley no-so-subtly nudging the clueless CEO, trying his best to hint at XBOX’s missteps will make them the laughing stock of the industry and ultimately making a fool of the President himself.
"Some of the advantages that you get, of having, a box that is designed to use an online state, so, that, uh, to me is the future-proof choice, and I think people, could’ve arguably gone the other way if we didn’t do it and fortunately we have a product for people who aren’t able to get some form of connectivity, it’s called Xbox 360."
- Don Mattrick, Former President of the Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft.
That one quote right there enabled Sony to win the war. Fans audibly cheering PlayStation in the the following day for opposing the anti-consumer practices put forward by the emerald shaded brand. We fast forward to 2020, the end of this generation with both Jack Tretton and Shuhei Yoshida retiring from their aforementioned roles, Yoshida still part of PlayStation omitting his executive status. While fans praise the appointment of Yoshida’s successor in former Managing Director of Guerrilla Games Hermen Hulst, there was a resounding groan for Andy House’s permanent replacement in now CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment, Jim Ryan. While the smiling businessman may seem like a charming chap, the problem lies within his outlook of the gaming business. Rather than enticing its core consumers, he rather talk about sales and figures.
Yes, it’s business. We know. The crux of the issue, is Sony embellishing with their upgrades of first part titles such as Insomniac’s Spider-Man. The final product of the web-slinging superhero was a technical blunder for the PlayStation 4. Every time the title is bought up, all I hear in my head is “optimised to crap”. Sure, presentation is second to none and its gameplay loop successfully delivers a rare commodity that has proven to be a questionable feat in the past, but to honestly sit there and tell us, PS5 owners should pay an exclusive premium for a title they have previously purchased, potentially at an exorbitant price for exclusive content and DLC, along with the caveat of completing it in its current format. Three words; That Is Ridiculous.
I describe it as a splashback effect, you know… I’m not going to go into the details but it’s disgusting. The support thrown Sony’s way has been tossed back to its devotee’s with a reverberating rejection that echoes XBOX’s 2013 DRM fudge, that placed the company into Damage Control. To throw an “Ultimate Edition” label across an exclusive title with the appendage of pre-existing software enhanced for their upcoming platform is anti-consumer. It does feel like we’re being manipulated into paying for the exact same experience a second time, only with some polish and faster load times. Big Deal. This is not $125AUD worth of content. Aussie Gamers are prepared to pay lofty loads of cold hard cash for new IP’s and a completely new piece of hardware, but a remaster at full price is a rort.
Are gamers well within their right to complain? Sure, maybe? I mean labour work isn’t free if you already own the duct work in the roof of your house. Sure, there’s a small fraction of Insomniac’s team that may have remastered the title for PlayStation 5, and yes they deserve to be paid and sure they would have been compensated nicely. But to attach the title exclusively to the Miles Morales “Ultimate Edition” is questionable. The studio have the ability to distribute the remaster separately for audiences who may want to only purchase the stand alone campaign. Granted that the Miles Morales expansion is being sold separately, can’t see why PlayStation could not possibly plan to detach the two stories and sell them at consumer friendly pricing. To say that I’m at a loss for these practices are an understatement; PlayStation need to flick through the history books and learn from flubs that were made with leadership that leveraged and availed from these terrible business practices.
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