Sony’s current-gen console has been a gargantuan success.
Sony’s PlayStation 4 has been nothing short of outstanding for the company in every way. Whether you’re talking about dependability of the hardware, the quality of the games that have been supported with it, how it has trounced it’s competition, or just overall sales numbers, there’s no question that the PS4 has been a gargantuan success in every way. It’s hard to predict the future of how a console will do, sometimes even well after it’s launch.
Anybody who tells you otherwise is gravely mistaken. What the library will turn out to look like, how the millions of consoles will behave after years of us, and the tricks that competing consoles might have up their sleeves are all major factors that can impact a console’s longevity at any moment. Many consoles started out their respective generations with lots of steam only to lose traction later on due to various combinations of these factors. But as the PS4 enters it’s twilight years, solidifies itself as the second best-selling game console of all time, and begins to move over and make room for the next PlayStation, the story of the PS4 becomes clearer and clearer every day. It has been a gargantuan success. But why?
The direction that PlayStation would take was as much of a question mark as ever at the end of the previous generation. To say the PS3 had struggled to find it’s footing would be a very restrained way to put it, and with the unpopular, draconian policies that Microsoft was planning to implement with their new console, the PlayStation 4 could have easily gone either way. Thankfully, they not only had the foresight to avoid falling into the same pattern they saw Microsoft in, but they distinguished themselves from the competition in the most dramatic way possible by mocking Xbox at the reveal event with a “How to share you PS4 game” video that would live on in infamy and set a tone for the generation that still reverberates today. Sony saw an opening to claim the identity of being for gamers, and they took it. This is not the only reason why the PS4 was successful, but it surely is one of the most spectacular.
It would be many more months before Microsoft would truly begin to repair the damage they did to themselves leading up to the launch of the Xbox One. It would be a long brutal road for them, but eventually, by putting up their own consumer-friendly programs like game pass and a fairly extensive backwards compatibility suite, both of which totally outclass the PS4 in those areas, Xbox has come a long way, but the echos of mandatory kinects, and always online functionality still haunt them to a degree and continue to create a void that PlayStation seems delighted to fill.
Even if it weren’t for that level of ownage in the public eye, the PlayStation 4 would still be a force to be reckoned with on it’s own merits. It’s a great machine. It certainly has it’s drawbacks with a somewhat janky online store and a somewhat more locked-down feel to it’s OS than the PS3 had, but overall it does what it needs to do. It plays games and plays them well. The somewhat odd trapezoidal shape of the PlayStation 4 not only functions as an interesting design aesthetically, but it also serves several functional purposes.
Keeping a more conservative profile for the back of the console by hiding cords, and allowing the front to be more visible while looking down on it in your entertainment center, just to name a few. But beyond that, the design allows for excellent cooling and thats something consoles are going to need more and more as they push more polygons and higher resolutions to our screens. Perhaps the most radical design of all is the controller though. The Dualshock 4 is not only a monumental improvement over the Dualshock 3, but many gamers feel it is the best controller of all time, which is understandable.
It checks nearly every box you would want and for gamers coming off of the Dualshock 3’s light weight, out-dated thumb sticks, and crappy triggers, the Dualshock 4 was like a quantum leap into the future with all of those issues fixed as well as several other features that might not have been utilized to their potential, but still served games well. Sharing game footage and recording predetermined lengths of play into videos that content creators could use later was also a nice touch that didn’t hurt.
But what good is outfoxing your competitors and having a fabulous console if you don’t have compelling software lined up? At the end of the day, the strongest case to make for a PS4 at this point would include mentioning it’s extensive library of excellent triple-A titles like Uncharted 4, God of War 2018, Horizon Zero Dawn, and The Last of Us Part 2, a healthy catalog of third party games that often ran better on Sony’s console than Microsoft’s, as well as a litany of smaller independent games that might be a little bit less predictable in terms of quality, but would often surprise gamers with strokes of ingenuity and gumption. Having all three of these areas covered as nicely as the PlayStation 4 did was perhaps the biggest part of what kept the success going for all these years. It’s easy to think of lots of consoles that weren’t particularly well-designed, marketed, or very good at being pixel pushing powerhouses, yet still went on to certain degrees of success because of their libraries.
But alternatively, there aren’t many cases of any system making any sort of notable impact in the videogame market without a healthy dose of variety and quality in their software libraries. Beyond all else, having a library full of diverse, engaging experiences is the single most important factor to ensure a console’s success. This is something PlayStation has known for a long time, and fortunately for them, did a fantastic job of during the PlayStation 4’s lifespan.
The next generation of consoles is certainly immanent. It won’t be long before the hay days of the PlayStation 4 go from a present era that we currently enjoy to a golden past that we remember fondly. Moving forward, PlayStation will indeed have a new set of circumstances to wrestle with though.
Odds are, Microsoft and Nintendo will both be more formidable challengers going forward, and with that stiffer competition, is the rise of digital sales, the fall of physical stores, and an appetite for new consoles that, while surely exists, might not be quite as intense as it was at the end of the PS3’s ten-year lifespan. The clear edge that PlayStation enjoyed from 2014 to 2019 is sure to get smoothed over at least bit. And with all of those wildcards, it’s tough to predict exactly how the future will go. And as many gaming veterans know, it’s very rare for one platform to hold on to the top spot for very long. But now that the current generation is winding down, it’s more than safe to say that it was a big win for the PlayStation brand and will likely influence the brand’s decisions for many years to come.
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.