The next iteration of the PlayStation is set to be revealed very soon, and along with the excitement for Sony’s next console, also comes a wave of expectations. For gamers, there are still many unanswered questions about what the landscape of gaming will be like when the next generation consoles are released. Some of the most interesting topics center around what Sony must do in order to avoid repeating the outcome of the PS3’s release, and the fallout from it. Sony must pay close attention to their past mistakes, and avoid making some known new ones, if they are to succeed over the competition in the next console cycle.
The biggest potential blunder that could work against Sony would be the implementation of their online service with the PlayStation 4. For years many have speculated that Sony would take an example from Microsoft’s Xbox Live business model and have users pay to play games over PlayStation Network. This would be a huge mistake to make in the next cycle. Even though the model Microsoft has established with Xbox Live has proven to be profitable, Sony following suit to this practice would jeopardize the image they have tried to maintain with gamers throughout the PS3’s life-cycle. Charging for online play over PSN would negate the biggest positive difference Sony has from their core competition, and would compromise the faith they have gained from their most loyal customers. Some may argue that this would just be a transition to having everyone on PSN convert over to PlayStation Plus, but the consequences would cause more much harm than good in the long run.
Another issue worthy of attention is the concept of changing Sony’s iconic controller model, the Dual Shock controller. Since the original PlayStation, the Dual Shock has been a signature staple in the game industry from Sony. The layout and ease of use of the Dual Shock is coveted by many gamers as a perfect controller, which has been referenced to and copied many times over. It would be a huge mistake for Sony to change up and abandon the Dual Shock controller layout. While looking to evolve and enhance a gaming experience through new kinds of controls is noble and admirable, the approach given from the Dual Shock has become too ingrained into many gamers, where taking away such a working beloved formula would be detrimental. Sony has tried to do such a thing in the past with the failed Boomerang controller, which was abandoned in favor for the Dual Shock 3.
Even though the PlayStation 4 will be able to stand on its own when released, a looming temptation for Sony would be to overly force various forms of communication and compatibility with the PS Vita. Some have speculated that Vita could possibly be used as an extra “controller” or add-on with PS4, very similar in practice to Nintendo’s Wii U gamepad and console, yet this is both a positive and negative thing. As Sony has demonstrated at the beginning of Vita’s life-cycle, trying to force the use of lackluster secondary gimmicks, such as touchscreen or motion controls, or duel screen compatibility; will make for a very bad setup for Sony. This can easily be compared to PS Move, where games had the functionality just for the sake of having it, rather than intricate and interesting use of the technology. This gave a very bad impression on gamers who did not want to be force-fed something that wasn’t mandatory to enjoying the games they wanted to play. And this can possibly happen with PlayStation 4 and Vita if such a move is made by Sony. Sony needs to have games that give quality experiences that go unparalleled to anything else, not games that try too hard to advertise new forms of gameplay.
While Sony is a conglomerate of a company, it is not impervious to making errors. Sony needs to plan their moves carefully and avoid past blunders if they want to make a huge splash in the next generation. This approach will aid Sony in bringing better experiences for gamers that purchase a PS4. At the end of each console generation, gamers have expectations that need to be satisfied. Hopefully the reveal of the PS4 will bring about more answers and satisfaction to gamers, rather than raise more questions.
Be sure to check out our latest podcast in which we also speak on PS4.