When you’re purposefully taking losses, it’s time to step it up

I’m looking at the list of PlayStation 3 and 4 titles. I’m seeing why Shuhei Yoshida came forward with the information that only 3 or 4 titles out of ten make actual profit.

Yoshida is right. The game industry is a hit-driven, but not because its naturally one, but because it was made into this Tripple A driven monstrosity. This mirror the modern Hollywood quite well, as they’ve been revelling in big blockbusters for God knows how long.

However, the more pressing matter is that Yoshida further opens the issue with saying how only one or two games make their money back. This means that only a fraction of titles SONY themselves fund and produced makes any money for them. How the hell is this a good business model?

There is a local store chain called the K-Mart. Yes, just like in one of your Japanese animes. We also M-Mart. Anyway, the K-Mart is taking loss.

The chairman of the company proclaimed in one of the past meetings with various sales people how the K-Mart chain has the ability of taking certain margin of loss. Incidentally, because they’re taking loss, the quality of the products they produce in-house (or in extension of in-house producing) has dropped and the overall customer service has taken a hit for the worse. Prices have gone up too. I can’t support a company that intentionally works on loss. The market doesn’t work like that, and the customer is the one feeling the negative effects first and foremost.

SONY is working in a similar model, it seems. I’m sure they’d love to see more of their games making more money, but for whatever reason they simply don’t. Well, we actually do know. The games they produce is B-Tier games at best, like Invizimals. Who the hell bought that? Who the hell even wanted to get that game? Actually, who the hell even wanted a PSP? And now, who the hell wants a PSVita? Vita seemed to be rather interesting before it was released, but alas it dropped into abyss after nobody kept releasing games for it. Almost all of the valid games for Vita are ports or sequels. Those don’t really attract much attention. Sequels do sell, as people are used to them, but how the hell are you going to attract eg. fighting game fans unto PSVita with Tekken X Street Fighter when they have superior controls on the home console? Never mind the quality of TxSF for a moment. SONY themselves has said that they won’t push big games too much on the system, which is effectively killing it off. I’d rather wait for a port of that Ys game on it rather than paying money for the system, unless I can get a sweet damn deal on it.

I am troubled by SONY’s games because of this. They seem to push far too similar games to Microsoft and try to tap the exact same consumer group for whatever reason. That’s not healthy. Red Ocean market is already abused almost completely dry, and as Nintendo proclaimed with the DS and Wii, the industry can survive only if they keep expanding the customerbase. Well, Nintendo decided to abandon that with the 3DS and the Wii U. Shows me right to actually get excited of companies (or in Nintendo’s case, certain individuals) doing something new and much more competent.

Did you know that SONY owns the license to Q*Bert? Whenever they have funded a new Q*bert game, it has been more or less a travesty. In a way or another SONY’s Q*Berts have been screwed over by awful controls or broken game mechanics. It is like the developers SONY hires for their games don’t realize the core idea of how Q*Bert works. SONY is, or rather was, an entertainment electronics company turned into game company, after all. I’m actually just now getting over the fact that their AV equipment is not the best anymore. I am the last generation that knew how good SONY televisions and music players were. They were the main thing to go for audiovisual equipment. Not anymore, and this is reflected in their game business as well.

I can’t deny that SONY has some diversity in their games. However, their quality is another issue. I asked around how many people in my friend circle had interest in SONY’s titles, and they had some hard time to come up more than one or two. That alone tells a lot. These people, who are deep into the subculture and may even be called on favouring a SONY console, had practically nil interest in their games.

Perhaps it would do some good for SONY to do some extensive, expensive and expansive customer research, the type that will show all the negative points in their games as well as all the good ones and absolutely simply observe the customers and see their needs. When we look at SONY’s library, they don’t have anything on their own that could push their console onwards and move the sales. That should make them worry. Microsoft has Halo and even thou it doesn’t move the Xbox consoles like it used to, it’s still a strong contender. I would rather see Halo games on PC, but PlayStation as a brand doesn’t have anything on its own that would be the shining gem or the sleek black onyx that would catch people’s attention. A shooting game is a shooting game, a platformer is a platformer. The best and most famous ones will always attract more attention than whatever another company has made to compete with. Killzone has been plagued with the Stigma of being a direct contender to Halo, and I can’t help by agree with that. That SONY All-Stars or whatever it was called was nothing but a direct Super Smash Bros. clone. Yes, I know the system was different and it was pretty much a different game, but you never hear people arguing against the DreamMix TV World Fighters, which also included Optimus Prime and Simon Belmont as playable characters.

Now that I think about it, PlayStations have always had the same problem of not really having identity on themselves outside third party games. At one point Solid Snake was thought as the face of PlayStation, at another time Crash Bandicoot took the spot. SONY has cats Kuro and Shiro in Japan, but nobody gives two flying shits about them. Was Sackboy supposed to be the face at some point? If so, that’s another failure. It’s not that SONY has managed to push games on their systems, the problem really is that all these games have been pretty damn… mediocre, or even bad.

It may sound stupid, but whatever SONY is doing with their games needs to stop. Their current model clearly isn’t working.

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