How well equipped is Sony to take on two newly launched consoles this year?
We already covered how the Xbox One might do in the impending, all important Holiday season this year. This year’s Holiday season is interesting because, for the first time in many years, we have three competitive platforms, all of which stand a chance at doing better than the competition, and all three of which will presumably end up doing well for themselves in their own rights regardless.
As a result, trying to analyze which platform might do the best is an interesting exercise this year. Last week, we discussed the Xbox One, which, with the launch of a brand new console in the Xbox One X, has a major launch drawing attention and consumer eyeballs to it. Simultaneously, we have Nintendo with the Switch, their new console that just won’t stop selling, and getting its biggest game yet with Super Mario Odyssey going right into the Holiday shopping season. The hand that these two systems are playing are on the table.
However, what about Sony? Sony doesn’t have new hardware launching this year (the PS4 Pro, PS4 Slim, and PSVR all launched last year). Sony does not have any major exclusives lined up for the remainder of the year- the only thing they have is Gran Turismo Sport, which will undoubtedly be big, but which is also a franchise that sells over a longer window: not the kind of explosive system seller that can help over the Holidays. There are no other major exclusives to pick up the slack either.
With an assessment like that, it would be tempting to call this Holiday the weakest Sony has ever been prepared for the year-end season over the PS4’s life- but it would be disingenuous and dishonest. You see, Sony is better equipped to handle the Holiday season this year than you might think.
"If you’re a customer who wants a new console to play Destiny, Call of Duty, Star Wars, or FIFA– well, you’ll probably be seeing a lot of (cheap) bundles for those games with the PS4 over the Holiday."
Let us first start with the obvious advantages they have going into the Holiday season, which are bound to help them do well- the PS4 is the leading console around the world, and the ‘default’ system for most players this generation. If someone wants to pick up a console to play Call of Duty or FIFA, they are probably going to go with the PS4, simply because of the brand cachet the system has built up (like the Xbox 360 last gen), and because their friends also probably own the PS4 (also like the Xbox 360 last gen). The PS4 Slim is also a very cheap device, often selling at sub-$250 prices, which is likely to endear it to the budget conscious shopper as well. To add to that, while the year end exclusive lineup for the PS4 is weak, it’s had a string of strong, big budget and high regarded exclusives through the year – Nioh, NieR Automata, Horizon: Zero Dawn, Persona 5, Crash Bandicoot N.Sane Trilogy – which should all help add to its momentum cumulatively.
Then there is the most important gambit by Sony for the year- almost every major game releasing this Fall and Winter has branding and marketing deals with Sony (meaning they will be marketed with the PS4 logo to further the association between them and the console in the average consumer’s mind), as well as exclusive bundles too. So if you’re a customer who wants a new console to play Destiny, Call of Duty, Star Wars, or FIFA– well, you’ll probably be seeing a lot of (cheap) bundles for those games with the PS4 over the Holiday. Why wouldn’t you pick one of those up, especially since it’s the easiest way to get a console and the game you want in one go?
All of this adds to Sony’s surprisingly strong position going into this Holiday season–however, it is the weakest they have been relative to the competition all generation. A part of this has to do with the competition simply putting forth a stronger face this year, of course, but there is no denying Sony themselves aren’t as well prepared this year, either. What this means, then, is that it’s far from a given that Sony is going to take the top honors this year. While they’re well prepared enough to not be out of the contention entirely, they are still vulnerable enough that Xbox One, or more likely, the Nintendo Switch, could chip away at their position.
"I think that Sony is going to do well, if only because of residual momentum. They have a cheap, mass market device with a lot of consumer and brand cachet, association with the biggest games of the year, and a strong exclusive lineup gathered over the year."
What’s my final takeaway, then? I think that Sony is going to do well, if only because of residual momentum. They have a cheap, mass market device with a lot of consumer and brand cachet, association with the biggest games of the year, and a strong exclusive lineup gathered over the year. I think they will manage to edge out the Xbox One and Xbox One X- but only just. I don’t think it will be as resounding a victory as it has been the last few years, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Xbox One beat them this year, too.
Do I think they’ll be able to beat the Nintendo Switch? Now that’s the interesting question. Honestly, all other things being equal, I think they are unlikely to do that. The Switch is going to be on fire this Holiday, especially with the added wind in its sails (and sales…) from Super Mario Odyssey. Feasibly, the only way I see Sony beating Nintendo out this year is if the Switch’s supply remains constrained.
Which could happen- but it also means that, for the first time in years, Sony’s showing is no longer going to be entirely in its own hands. What an interesting turn of events.
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.