The Next PlayStation: 5 Lessons I Hope Sony’s Learned

With the next PlayStation reportedly on the way, let's look at some of the things I suspect we'd all agree Sony needs to do better this time around.

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From wishful thinking to shockingly sudden all-but-certainty, Sony‘s next game system may be here at last (I’ll try to avoid calling it things Sony hasn’t, like “PlayStation 4″ or “Orbis”), apparently head-faking Microsoft to debut earlier than expected at what’ll no doubt be a media circus in New York (and online) come Feb. 20.

The event invite cleared my inbox last night accompanied by, well, see for yourself in Sony’s slick dubstep tease above. Sony labeled the event “PlayStation Meeting,” which is sort of like calling E3 “L.A. Occurrence,” but, well, marketing.

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At this point, your guess would have been as good as mine: probably the next PlayThing, because what else is Sony going to hype for three weeks and drag folks to from all corners of the earth? Still, I could have flown around the room on a broomstick: a PlayStation VitaPad, a PlayStation Phone (pPhone!), or heck, even Sony’s answer to Google‘s Project Glass (Sony GlassStation!).

But no, the Wall Street Journal went and spoiled the fun by claiming that, yes indeed, Sony’s going to give us a peek at its next games console and ship the thing later this year, probably around the holidays. I consider that slightly more plausible than hearsay since it’s the Journal, but bear in mind it’s still a claim based on unidentified sources (the Journal pulls the phrase “people familiar with the matter” off the shelf at least four times).

No surprise, the story’s taken off like a guy air-riding a horse, prompting a bunch of people to throw odd notions at the wall based on even sketchier sourcing. Instead of regaling you with tales of mystical multi-core processors pulling contextually meaningless speeds, why don’t we look back at some of the things I suspect we’d all agree Sony needs to do better the next time around.

Don’t launch at $500-$600. I still can’t imagine what Sony was thinking in 2006 (well, beyond “we can barely afford to build this franken-thing!”). Yes, everyone loved the PlayStation 2, and no, not enough to spend that kind of money on the PlayStation 3. No, I don’t know what the company ought to sell a new game console for, but I’ll refer you down the aisle to the Wii U: currently struggling at $300-$350. If Sony launches higher (and doesn’t include something like a free iPad), especially in a weak economy, it may find it’s looking for dance partners all over again.

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The new PlayStation Network (or whatever Sony rebrands it) needs to be seamless. None of this irritating “synchronizing trophies” business, waiting ages for features like background downloads or “cross-voice game chat is really coming!” except it’s really not. Also, while my lizard brain still sort of responds to the nerdy elegance of the PlayStation 3′s XrossMediaBar, after all these years there’s just something warmer and friendlier about Xbox LIVE. I have a roughly equal number of friends in both ecosystems, so it’s not that; I’ve just come to prefer navigating TV environments that feel a little less clinical. (The Journal says Sony’s new system is more social media-driven, so unless Sony’s launching a standalone answer to Facebook, I expect we’ll see the interface sporting newfangled riffs on Twitter/Facebook/Instagram/Google+/etc. integration.)

Resist the urge to go all three-ring-circus on us. Sitting through Sony/Microsoft pressers sometimes feels like watching Tim Meadows and Will Ferrell squeeze bottles of Cookie Dough Sport over their heads. Spare us the strobe lights and sizzle reels and maybe just level with us like we’re adults and not a bunch of Red Bull-amped teenage boys at a Lady Gaga concert.

Don’t make it all about the graphics. I mean sure, we all like pretty games, but 5x, 10x, 100x the PS3′s oomph…it’s now all kind of abstract and pointless given how sophisticated games already look today. I want to know what those extra cycles are going to do for me gameplay-wise, and I don’t mean visually, e.g. better “god-rays” or “subsurface scattering” or a gazillion bendable blades of grass. Can this thing sustain an artificially intelligent being that’d pass a Turing Test? And can you work that into a game that’s actually fun to play?

Don’t be the last kid to the party. Hello, stuff like Grand Theft Auto IV and Skyrim DLC. Microsoft scored coup after coup this round in terms of timed exclusive or outright exclusive content. And yes, I’m sure it cost the company a pretty penny, but gamers are going to go where the games they want to play live. If their sense is that’s not Sony, well, it’s not rocket science. And some of the dropped balls this round were doozies: Skyrim‘s one of the bestselling games of all time and it’s been out since November 2011. Bethesda just announced today that PS3 users can finally get their hands on the downloadable content in a few weeks, whereas Xbox 360 users have had at it for months.

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13 comments
LouiStation
LouiStation

Sounds like Sony would have to retire the PlayStation moniker and go with something more fitting, say perhaps: PlayStream? 

www.playstation5-fr.com

sylent6
sylent6

This sounds more like a rant than a review.  Leak economy my ass, we spent well over $800 on a new smartphone not to mention the plan rates we have verse to spend $500-600 every six years on a system doesn't sound bad to me.  And even "if" (just saying as an example) was over $500, what's wrong saving now before the end of the year release?  

Back in the 90's I had no problem buying a turbo grafix, neo-geo, or a 3d0 at that range.  Technology is cheaper so the consoles will be too but I will say this, if my new system doesn't last over five years then we, the consumers will have a promblem.

official2unofficials
official2unofficials

If PS4 launches at $600 I'll do what I did w/the original PS3 & wait for a $300 refurbished model. At this point I only use it to game & for nothing else really as I have other devices for my media habits. I do agree that their UI needs works as the Play Store deserves a facelift. My refurbished unit has been hanging out since '08 so I'd say I'm having a good run. Unfortunately I'm not an Xbox man outside of the Kinect feature w/the kids...no Netflix w/out a Live subscription is a huge let down for me but the gameplay seems decent, just loyal to Playstation.

Palsy
Palsy

What was that? Sony needs to create better commercials if it wants to survive. The consumer electronics competition is tough because of so many good players. http://x.co/t5kO

bibleverse1
bibleverse1

Price it right.

More exclusive free content.

Heavenly Sword sequel.

Stop updating the software every month. 

AAW412
AAW412

I own an original ps3 (aka expensive one) best thing I ever bought. Especially because it has the bluray and playback in it. I've had it for almost 5 years now and have had no issues. 

jhlammy95
jhlammy95

Woah woah woah woah.... woah. Teenage boys go to Lady Gaga concerts?

Pat_Cusick
Pat_Cusick

Why is $500-600 for a system so crazy?! Look at what the system does as a whole.  It is more than just a video game console, it is an entertainment hub for any home.  People pay 200 each year to upgrade to the NEW iPhones or pay 600 for an iPad just to see it obsolete within 1 year based on the new and improved models that roll out.  If you paid 600 dollars back in 06 and it is still running great just like mine is, then it was totally worth it.  No subscriptions, just a great console that i still enjoy to this day.

Opella
Opella

5 things SONY got right this gen that the competition (Microsoft) didn’t.

1. More exclusive games.

2. Not paying a $$ subscription to simply “play online and access Netflix etc” aka Live.

3. PlayStation Plus – PS+ is unrivalled.

4. Blu-Ray – Only on PlayStation.

5. Hardware – No Xbox RROD scenario.

If SONY correct the issues highlighted in this blog, SONY will have a real winner on their hands. They released a year later this gen and are still going to outsell the competition, if they are competing from day 1 it could be the PS2 era all over again for the PS4?

PS+ info. http://www.destructoid.com/plus-points-sony-s-ps-plus-humiliates-the-game-industry-243470.phtml

GameNtradeWeb
GameNtradeWeb

Greate blog. It will be interesting to see how they move forward.

Majnun
Majnun

... They probably won't have an AI that can pass a Turing test. I wouldn't hold your breath on that one. That seems an unfair standard.