The Problems and Potential of Sony

A couple of things I’ve seen recently have me somewhat worried about Sony. I’ve talked here a little about the PlayStation Vita and its problems, but that’s probably a microcosm of the issue with the whole company’s operating style.

If you haven’t read it, the most recent catalyst was an article titled “The Ten Year Decline of Sony” from notenoughshaders.com. It goes into a lot of numbers and charts about Sony’s assets and liabilities and whatnot, but it ends on what’s wrong from a people standpoint, and I think you can see that reflected in things like the Vita.

Basically, Sony still makes really good hardware, but there isn’t enough content on it. I think it’s fairly obvious that’s what the problem with the Vita is. According to the aforementioned article even Sony’ former CEO Howard Stringer agreed. This really struck me though when I discovered how much wasted potential rests within all Sony’s assets.

A little while ago I think Sony released a new eReader. At this point the Sony Reader is probably in the background somewhere behind the Kindle, iBooks, nook, kobo, and whatever else. The first thing I asked upon this was “why the heck isn’t this functionality in the Vita?!” I was even more astonished to discover that Sony has had its own eBook store for some time – that is nowhere to be seen on the Vita – a machine with probably much more public attention.

That deals with the ever-stated problem of Sony’s various divisions not cooperating enough. The notenoghshaders article however goes into Sony’s foundation as an engineer culture – sustaining rivalries and competition between the R&D guys. Stringer apparently butted heads with those engineers on the problem of lack of content for Sony’s hardware.

I think we can all agree that the first two PlayStation consoles were wildly successful because of their games and not their hardware. If Sony tried they could probably build an impressive media network that would enrich each of their products.

It’s not like they’d have to build an Apple-style media consumption network from the ground-up. Sony already possesses the content; they just don’t seem to care about spreading it across their products. Look at how much Microsoft is trying to build Windows 8 into a software platform that distributes software and media across PCs, a tablet, a phone, and a game console. Being able to buy content once for all four devices enriches all four of them.

Ironically I’m not sure if Cross-Buy is really gonna work for the Vita just due to hardware, but there’s so much other content that the thing is missing. In my opinion, the Vita turned sideways is basically a 4” tablet that’s half the price of an iPad. A few apps are already there but they need to pick up the pace. If they did it could become fairly competitive in that space.

At this point I have no idea what they plan to do with the PS4. If Sony wants an advantage they can’t go with their current strategy – relying on exclusive games and stronger hardware. Microsoft is planning to beef up their already superior online infrastructure across a whole family of devices. I think Sony has the ability to match that but I haven’t seen the willingness yet.

BULLETS:

  • The Witcher 2 rap: http://t.co/b3lV2uav
  • From all the praise of Black Mesa I’m hearing, I guess it’s time I actually started playing the original Half-Life. Bought it four years ago for the 10th anniversary Steam sale for 98 cents.
  • Found a nice website where people write stories of what happened to them while playing Day Z: http://t.co/sJ0m5mgL
  • The PC version of Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath finally got updated with all the new assets from the PS3 HD version: http://t.co/szfTB8FY
  • I suspect that Dragon Age III: Inquisition, will be something of a cross-generation title next year. It’s coming out supposedly around the time of the PS4 and next Xbox, and it’s running on a next-gen-ready game engine. That should be good news for the PC version if nothing else.
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One thought on “The Problems and Potential of Sony

  1. Math Loup Gris Chenard says:

    I really really really hope they don’t screw up PS4. I feel like Sony has released the best consoles up to now, disregarding portable gaming. It IS true though that with all the power of the PS3, I always end up using it only for gaming and watching blurays. I wish they fixed their crappy youtube and social apps.

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