Sony is in a position of utter domination in the market currently, but things weren’t quite so pretty for it last generation. While Sony ended up recovering very well, that recovery came because of the “Icarus Moment”, so to speak, that came with the initial failure of the PS3, and the humbling experience that that created for Sony as a company.
This isn’t just my take either. No less than Sony Worldwide Studios boss Shawn Layden admitted as much in his opening keynote at DICE 2019 earlier today. Speaking about Sony’s moment of reckoning with the PS3, Layden said (via IGN) that that failure nonetheless sculpted Sony into the company that it is today.
“PlayStation 2 was an industry triumph, it remains one of the best-selling consoles of all time,” Layden said. “But coming off the heels of that, was PlayStation 3: a stark moment of hubris in the nearly 25 years of PlayStation history. As we sometimes call it, PS3 was our Icarus Moment.”
“For our business, the fall was sharp,” he continued. “We hadn’t listened to our customers. We created a devilish development environment. We reacted too slowly and our network was underdeveloped. And worst of all, if you remember, was the price point.
“While the PlayStation 3 and our fight to say relevant has been well-covered, what wasn’t as well-covered was the call we made at that time to transform our company into what we are today. We doubled our efforts to develop incredible games and strengthened our partnerships for the next generation.
“We listened to developers and gamers. We listened to [Mark Cerny, PS4’s lead architect]. We created PS4, a console for developers as much as it was for fans. We focused on the quality of our games, on making titles that would stand the test of time, the way that the best pieces of art often do.”
It’s incredible to see Sony responding well to the criticism and market failure at the time. I can just hope that the PS4’s success doesn’t go to their heads the same way the PS2’s did. They’re doing well, but their openly misrepresenting their enabling of cross-play for games is, for example, one instance of them showing worrying tendencies again.