Sony's Master PlayStation 4 Marketing Plan Revealed, Somewhat

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Steve Anderson
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Sony's Master PlayStation 4 Marketing Plan Revealed, Somewhat

With the Sony special event now a memory, we're left to pick up the pieces and ask, just what's left? But now we've got some official, on the record word from Sony itself to explain just what the plan is for the next generation, and a way to figure out if Sony can take back the gaming market, or if this is truly Sony's last stand.

Sony Computer Entertainment America president Jack Tretton took to CNBC to talk turkey about its upcoming hardware, and in the process, gave us a look at the marketing plans to make Sony the powerhouse it once was in the PS2 days. Tretton made one key point in its marketing plans: there are more gamers now than there ever were before, and that means a bigger market, and more opportunity to do the job up right.

Tretton's remarks might have seemed like optimism writ large, but Tretton didn't forget a healthy dollop of personal accountability in there. Tretton pointed out that all those gamers would want the new triple-A titles, and said gamers would be able to justify their new purchase of a PlayStation 4 on the strength of those oh-so-cravable titles, as long as they "see the value there", leaving Tretton clearly behind the eight ball to avoid the fate of the Wii U.

Now, some here are left a bit confused. After all, 2012 was a terrible year for games, with the retail sales market down fully 24 percent in just the United States. Indeed, that's so, but consider the market; the current crop of hardware is pushing a decade old. Individual titles are still selling briskly, but development of same has pulled back.

Yes, the Wii U's third month sales are charitably described as a "screaming pile of disaster", with results worse than anything since the Xbox 360 first emerged. But consider the problems Nintendo's having getting the games in play.

And yes, the portable gaming market has seen better days, its territory clearly encroached upon by smartphones and tablets and the casual gaming experience that can be had in minutes or hours as needed.

But here's the thing: virtually all of the troubles, except those of portable gaming, have other potential explanations besides the idea that somehow "Angry Birds" is ganking play time from "Skyrim". Sony isn't out of line to suggest that, if they can put out some top-notch experiences--the next "Skyrim", the next "Fallout", the next "Call of Duty Black Ops II"--they can take back playtime from "Words With Friends". This is not out of line. They're two wholly different experiences, and there's room for both in the pond. Yes, I'm not taking "Dead Island: Riptide" to the laundromat while I hose down the week's clothes, but I'm not camping out all weekend with a case of Pepsi and the nearest pizza place on speed dial so I can play "Temple Run" all weekend. These are different experiences. They are appropriate in different circumstances.

There's room for both here. While Sony has admittedly seen better days, and this may well be Sony's last chance to stay in the console fray, it's got more than enough room here to take it with big name games and big name draws to get the players interested. But by like token, it's going to have to have some big-name blockbusters in play, and it's going to have to have them not only ready for launch day, but also ready to follow up. Nintendo's recent struggles have shown that conclusively: big games at launch aren't enough. Big games throughout, that's enough. If Sony can get the games, and get them on the right schedule, then they've got just the momentum it will need to truly keep their place in the roster.

I look forward to seeing what it's got.

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