PlayStation fans are getting antsy. If you were to drop into any gathering of PlayStation fans online – whether on any number of gaming forums, or comments sections of videos like this one – you would find a lot of general restlessness, arising from a perceived lack of communication from the company. There’s this general expectation that Sony has been withholding information for far too long, and that they are due to have a big show soon – and every single day that passes by without this big show ends up just perpetuating that restlessness and anticipation further.
On one hand, you can empathize with the sentiment to a certain degree. You have a lot of people who have bought some really expensive new machines, and are now waiting for the promised software they bought these games for to materialize, but Sony seems to not want to talk about them. You have at least one major upcoming and anticipated exclusive that was scheduled for this year fairly concretely apparently being delayed into next year, and Sony not officially confirming or denying the rumour. You have an E3 that just came and went without Sony’s involvement.
It sounds pretty bad when you look at it like that, but that’s a wilfully one sided depiction, a picture specifically painted to convey a certain message. Because the truth is, Sony has in fact been communicating just fine. Since November 2020 (as in, the month PS5 launched), they have had two general State of Play shows, as well as ones focusing on specific games for Demon’s Souls, Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart, Horizon: Forbidden West, and, for reasons quite beyond me, Destruction All-Stars. That’s six shows in ten months, not counting their general news updates and communications, including the multiple news drops they have had for the upcoming PlayStation VR, for the formation of partnerships with new studios they are working with, for the acquisition of Housemarque, for updates on their existing properties such as The Last of Us or Ghost of Tsushima, miscellaneous updates such as their partnership with Discord, or new controller colors, updates on the development and release windows for previously announced games such as God of War or Gran Turismo, and of course, none of the many indie game focused PS Blog days they often have. To put it very simply, there has been absolutely no shortage of communication from PlayStation at all. In fact, Sony has done an abundantly great job of making sure people are always kept in the loop and that the brand is maintaining a level of engagement with its fanbase at any given time.
Why are people so antsy then, and moaning about the lack of communication from Sony? Put simply, the issue isn’t that Sony isn’t communicating, the issue is that people don’t think they’re communicating about the right things. Now don’t get me wrong, Sony is absolutely communicating about the right things – talking about upcoming games, doing deep dives on impending releases, focusing on new studio partnerships, those are the things to talk about. But people don’t want the sixth new look at Deathloop, they want to know about the next God of War or Final Fantasy 16, or whatever other big and exciting exclusive Sony can announce that can then be used in list wars by console warriors dwelling online ad infinitum for the next few years while we wait for the game to actually release. The issue is that while Microsoft has announced or shown off loads of such games in the last few months, from Starfield to to STALKER 2, and Nintendo has announced or shown off a dump of upcoming exclusives, first and third party, from Metroid Dread to Splatoon 3 to Shin Megami Tensei V, Sony’s focus over the last few months has been squarely on the games already announced that are nearing release.
This makes total sense, mind you – every single Sony studio has released a game within the last few years, and they probably don’t have anything to show or release right away, and Sony presumably wants to avoid the mistakes of last generation, where they announced games so early that many of them generated outright antipathy when they were shown off at a show again. It’s the smart thing to do to have shorter marketing cycles, and focus squarely on what’s coming up. It’s actually what Nintendo does as well, and the reason the company can announce a glut of exclusives, while only focusing on the immediate short term release window, is because Nintendo is already coming off of a dry year in terms of releases and communications in 2020.
Microsoft, of course, has announced a whole lot of games, very few of which are actually due out this year – or any time soon, honestly. But Microsoft is in a fundamentally different position than Sony or Nintendo. Those two platforms are the market leaders, they’re selling 100 million units on the back of accrued goodwill and momentum that Microsoft simply doesn’t have. Xbox needs to seem exciting to legions of people who may otherwise not be interested in it, and the easiest way to do that is to announce a lot of great games you won’t get anywhere else – even if those games are a while away from release. But because of this strategy, Microsoft obviously generates a lot of noise, engagement, and excitement on an ongoing basis where Sony’s updates are more muted, relatively speaking. Rather than the announcement of Forza Horizon 5, Sony just gave us another look at Deathloop. Rather than having a big Holiday release in Halo Infinite, Sony is looking at potentially having no big release this year – but Sony can afford to take its time on its games to get it right, because the PS5 is selling on sheer brand power and momentum at this point. Microsoft cannot.
The difference between the market positions of Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft can explain why Sony is being so seemingly muted – because they have decided to focus on what’s out soon, and they have decided to not rush things, explicitly because they can afford to do both those things. Nintendo is having a richer news year this year, but Nintendo already had a dry year in terms of releases and news updates last year – so it was high time for them to have a big year again, because something would have gone terribly wrong if they had somehow managed to have a 2020-style year two years in a row. Microsoft is having a richer news year with more lined up releases because its market position necessitates it.
None of this addresses the elephant in the room, which is COVID-19 – things are disrupted badly enough that plans are in flux, and it’s really hard to market something if you don’t even know when it will be complete. Sony could, for example, still show off God of War or Gran Turismo, but you can see why they want to hold back on that until they know the concrete final form and release window for those titles.
Of course, none of this really helps you feel better if you spent $500 on your shiny new PS5 and now find yourself wistfully hoping for something hype to be able to get you excited about the platform again. But in the end, this comes back to what I have said before – if you bought something on the promise of something, and are then disappointed when the promise is not kept, you have yourself to blame more than anyone else. If the PS5, at launch, didn’t have anything, or much, to appeal to you, you had zero reason to spend the money to get it at launch, based on nothing but the hype and promise of a new God of War, Final Fantasy, Gran Turismo, and Horizon this year. You could as well have waited for those games to be out before you committed to the platform. If you have spent the money on buying the PS5, there is still no shortage of amazing things to play on the system. Returnal, Ratchet and Clank, Demon’s Souls, Miles Morales, not counting third party games such as Disco Elysium, Guilty Gear or Final Fantasy 7 Remake Intergade, as well as major Multiplatform games, mean there is zero shortage of things to actually play on your fun new PS5. Yes, God of War might be delayed, and that’s what you were really looking forward to, and even a look at the game might make you feel better – but you signed up for that risk when you bought the PS5 for a game that didn’t even have a title announced, let alone a release date or footage.
Because what it comes down to isn’t a lack of things to play on the PS5 – there’s a lot of great stuff to play on the system already, and there’s at least one major exclusive planned for the remainder of this year in Deathloop. It’s not about Sony not communicating either – as evidenced, they are, they’ve said a lot, and it’s all been about substantive and meaningful stuff you’ll be going hands on with soon. It’s about you not getting the hype you think you were promised. And don’t get me wrong, I love me some hype – but whose fault is it, in the end, that you threw away $500 of your money in the middle of a pandemic, based on nothing but hype?
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.