With the release of PlayStation TV, PlayStation carves out a unique position for themselves in the streaming market. Could this new market distract PlayStation from its focus on gamers?
Recently, at E3, Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. President and Group CEO, Andrew House, stated PlayStation’s vision remains focused on gaming.
“Our vision is grounded in an uncompromising commitment to gamers that insures PlayStation is, above all else, the best place to play,” House said.
The release of PlayStation TV seems to be at the very least expanding that vision if not redirecting it.
The name PlayStation TV itself suggest the device is for streaming TV shows. Sony has thousands of titles available to stream using this system and the advertised price for PlayStation TV is only $99 as opposed to the $400–$500 range for a PlayStation 4. With the price and selection PlayStation TV is sure to have a broad appeal for the streaming ability alone, plus gamers can use it to play old games without compatibility issues.
Although PlayStation TV can be used on its own to stream some PS, PS2, and PS3 games from the PlayStation Now catalogue, or in conjunction with your PlayStation 4 to play games from your main console on a different television, comments from the Editor-in-chief of Joystiq.com, Ludwig Kietzmann, suggest we should look at PS TV as a streaming device you can use to play games instead of a gaming device on which you can stream videos.
“PlayStation TV is an interesting device in the same category as the Apple TV and the Amazon Fire TV, but I wonder if consumers will take advantage of it fully,”Kietzmann told highspeedinternet.com. “For someone who wants a cheap streaming box and wants to dabble in the occasional PS3 game—which they’ll be able to rent and stream through PlayStation Now and play with a decent controller—the PlayStation TV might have an edge over competitors in the same space.”
Looking at PlayStation TV as a streaming device with gaming as a secondary function may give it an advantage over other streaming devices, but seems to contradict PlayStation’s game-focused message. So, why isn’t PlayStation getting the same type of backlash from gamers Xbox got when it tried moving into the multi-platform arena?
Editor-in-chief of kotaku.com, Stephen Totilo, told us it goes back to the marketing message from the PlayStation 4.
“I don’t know of many gamers who dislike when their consoles can play movies or music. I just constantly hear that gaming is the thing they most want their consoles to excel at,” Totilo said. “Sony has shown, from the get-go, that the PS4 will be a gaming-first machine, and that has spared them a lot of backlash. Microsoft designed the Xbox One to do a lot with TV programming—everything from letting a cable box plug into the console to letting you do picture-in-picture displays of your cable feed while playing a game. All that is pretty cool, but Microsoft’s choice to focus on that when they revealed the Xbox One, all the while announcing some gaming policies that seemed to interfere with how gamers wanted to access their next-gen games, was what gave them a lot of aggravation. Microsoft is finally recovering from that, happily. Sony hasn’t had to dig itself out of that kind of hole.”
Kietzmann agrees with Totilo.
“The difference between PlayStation 4 and Xbox One isn’t as tremendous as it seems, but this stems from how the systems were announced. Microsoft positioned their hardware as a home for TV, games and sports right away, making it an inexorable part of that system’s identity. But players thought they were being asked to pay extra for that functionality in a $500 system. Meanwhile, the PlayStation 4 also has music, movies and TV, but with much less emphasis from the executives. There’s less backlash in the case of PlayStation because Sony is always sure to shout GAMING just a bit louder than anything else.”
PlayStation may be shouting “gaming,” but their actions are sending mixed messages. Following in the footsteps of Netflix, PlayStation has already begun production on an original streaming series, Powers, that will be available exclusively on PlayStation Now.
Although more original series may follow, Totilo thinks this is just Sony being Sony.
“Powers is a pretty good comic book series and has a shot at being a pretty good show, so I think that specific project has a good chance at being worth everyone’s time,” Totilo said. “I don’t think this is a big change of pace for a company that in the previous generation also tried to bring some of Sony Entertainment to Sony PlayStation. I just think that what they’re doing now is smarter than, say, using the Spider-Man movie font on the PS3.”
Kietzmann says Powers in particular will work because it could appeal to gamers.
“A serial drama drawing from graphic novels and superheroes does seem like a good fit for what they presume are the interests of the gaming audience, so trotting that out as an exclusive is a good idea—in theory.”
Gamers seem to have no problems with PlayStation expanding its presence in the streaming realm as long as gaming remains the focus. But while PlayStation talks about gaming, it continues to expand its scope. Kietzmann says that’s just good business.
“Sony is sure to leverage the content it has with its TV and movie studios—they’re making those products anyway, so why not use them to leverage the PlayStation brand? Sony as a business has taken several steps over the years to make its fractured departs more coherent, and popular entertainment is a connective tissue between the PlayStation platform, their televisions, phones and creative studios.”
With Sony’s wise decision to emphasize the gaming aspect of the PS4, it seemingly has the freedom to experiment with other platforms without upsetting the gamer community. The association between PlayStation and gaming is so ingrained that Sony is able to pass off a streaming device, PlayStation TV, as a gaming console.
Do you think PlayStation is straying too far from gamers? Let us know in the comments.
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