PlayStation Experience and Substituting Overt Marketing For Actual Excitement
This year’s PSX was a bloated show but is it really just a product of marketing trends?
This year’s PlayStation Experience is in the books and if you haven’t seen the show…well, you can check out our official review here. A succinct summary would be the shortest amount of time it takes to go from “This is kind of nice” to “Ow ow ow, make it stop.”
But I’m not going to bash on PSX 2015, even if I did think Sony threw a whole bunch of announcement in for the sake of such and nothing else. Rather, it was the nature of the announcements which took me off guard and its given rise to a rather odd trend in the past few years.
One can trace this back to when Sony (ironic, we know) announced its PS4 reveal event in 2013. The event itself was actually put together rather well – the box itself and its price wasn’t known, creating intrigue; we got a look at several top-tier titles and what the box was capable of delivering (even if many of those games like Killzone: Shadow Fall and Knack weren’t that great); and above all, even at two hours, Sony managed to stuff in enough significant announcements. Was there bloat? Sure, but what was shown had weight.
"Did The Modern Zombie Taxi Co. really need its own segment? While Eagle Flight and Rez Infinite looked decent, did they really need their own time on stage?"
Cut to the Xbox One reveal event which was a disaster for numerous reasons. When Microsoft wasn’t focusing on triple-A titles, which was most of the time, it went on and on about television, Kinect, sports and the all-in-one entertainment solution the console provided. Then there was the always-on nonsense which we won’t repeat.
You’d think that such awful events couldn’t hurt a console’s prospects but even when Microsoft did a total 180 on many of its policies, the Xbox One struggled against the PS4 in the early going. It’s only when the company focused on games was the ship properly righted. Both E3 2014 and 2015 were chockfull of amazing announcements which not only released soon but were awesome games (except for that little thing called Halo: The Master Chief Collection). Within these events Microsoft fit in a number of important reveals, balancing out future games with near future releases and building upon the Xbox brand in interesting ways.
Whether it was the sheer number of events that would take place in the past two years – Gamescom, Paris Games Week, E3 2015, etc. – or simply a desire to remain in the marketing eye, Sony began to slightly slip. Its E3 presentations were still pretty good – even we’re still sceptical about some of the announcements made this year – but the bloat was becoming more obvious than ever. While Microsoft dropped the idea of TV in 2014, Sony featured an entire segment devoted to the show Powers (where is Powers today? Your guess is as good as ours). While Microsoft featured HoloLens briefly at its E3 2015 press conference, Sony devoted segment after segment to PlayStation VR, regardless of the quality of games shown. Did The Modern Zombie Taxi Co. really need its own segment? While Eagle Flight and Rez Infinite looked decent, did they really need their own time on stage?
In this day and age, it’s becoming less about how much time you take on stage and what you do with that time. The Game Awards is a great example. The awards felt like they meant something, to both the presenters and the winners. There were interesting world premieres but you also had great segments like the tribute to Satoru Iwata. Was Shaquille O’Neal revealing Shaq-Fu: A Legend Reborn all that awesome? Not really, but at least The Game Awards didn’t end abruptly with that, much less devote lots of time to it. Overall, TGA was a long but well balanced show.
"When a company insists fitting every single damn thing, regardless of quality, on stage thus over-saturating your interest (or even showing you something you couldn’t possibly care less about), then it becomes nothing but an embarrassing marketing ploy."
And if you want to talk about short and focused, there’s Nintendo Direct. They rarely surpass an hour and fit in both a number of important announcements and some small little snippets about other games in development. Are they always amazing? Hell no but they’re not as universally reviled either, even at the E3 2015 presentation which featured Metroid Prime Federation Force. When a company insists fitting every single damn thing, regardless of quality, on stage thus over-saturating your interest (or even showing you something you couldn’t possibly care less about), then it becomes nothing but an embarrassing marketing ploy. And if there’s one thing that’s easily identifiable, it’s an obvious attempt to shove something uninteresting or downright awful down a viewer’s throat.
Sony has no need to be worried obviously – it’s sold 30 million PS4 units worldwide. Then again, it’s investing a hefty amount of money into VR and its games. Who’s going to buy PS VR if Sony tries to push it so aggressively on to players, that too with such terrible games? We may be a ways off from dedicated events to game reveals like the next Call of Duty and Assassin’s Creed but shows like PSX don’t help one bit when it comes to emphasizing the importance of announcements.
The future may yet feature more events as more developers and companies try to market their games in the most bombastic way possible. If PlayStation Experience has taught us anything though, it’s that something as spectacular as the first gameplay footage from the Final Fantasy 7 Remake shouldn’t be sharing the same stage as the goddamn Modern Zombie Taxi Co., regardless of how badly you want to push your products.
Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, GamingBolt as an organization.