In the last five years, the games industry has changed drastically. The way that people access and interact with games has gone from just ‘buying discs and reading print reviews’ to ‘downloading games and watching Let’s Plays and Twitch streams’. With streaming services like PlayStation Now and EA’s rumored upcoming rival, gamers don’t have to outright download or purchase games either. Plus, with the PS4 and the Xbox coming fully equipped with apps for YouTube, Netflix and Hulu etc., along with the platform holder’s own forays into media (such as Sony’s PlayStation Vue) many console owners don’t just use the boxes for gaming either.
But even as Sony and Microsoft adapt and change their business strategies to cater to the ever-moving gaming landscape, the two companies have struggled to compete with smartphone gaming, which has had an unprecedented growth spurt. In Japan, mobile gaming is so popular that some feel that it will cause the death of console gaming and globally, mobile gaming is expected to make more money than console titles this year. Sony PlayStation president Shuhei Yoshida recently revealed that even releasing the PlayStation Vita’s successor would be difficult right now due to how “unhealthy” the gaming landscape is.
So going forward, how do console gaming companies go up against the mobile juggernaut? And how do they continue to compete and make money in a landscape that is moving so quickly? Speaking to Eurogamer at EGX 2015, this is one of the things that Yoshida addressed, telling the publication that:
Like Michael Pachter saying console is dead, or this is the last console generation, I feel we’ve been fighting against obsolescence. Even when PS4 is doing well, you might look at the sales, the fast pace of PS4 sales, we may be just selling to the same people faster, right! That’s a sad view of things, but it could be the case. Every time there’s a new threat, like PC was before, now it’s mobile, look at the Japanese market which has the heaviest impact. When you look at the video game market in Japan, it’s going like crazy because of mobile is huge.
To tackle this, Yoshida says that Sony has to “continue to work hard to really bring back people who used to play console games before PS2 era, or find new people to provide great experiences, that people who never had their own consoles might find useful for their lives”. For example, next year the company will release the PlayStation VR headset (formerly known as Project Morpheus) which will allow people to be more deeply immersed in their games by making them feel as though they are in the game’s world themselves.
Yoshida cited PlayStation VR title The Deep, a game that “has no gameplay at all” but instead lets players feel as though they are in the middle of a shark cage underwater, and it also features sharks rushing right up to the bars, jaws gaping. He also suggested that Sony would market PlayStation VR as a “virtual reality system that makes use of PS4” and that it has “broader applications than the games”. While that’s not necessarily a confirmation that PlayStation VR will work with films and other projects such as storefronts and interactive tours, the technology would certainly make it possible.
As for what else PlayStation will be doing in the future, Sony themselves have given the PS4 a price cut in Japan and although the PS4’s holiday 2015 line-up isn’t looking so hot, 2016 will see the likes of Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End and The Last Guardian released on the console. So although the company has a lot to think about going forward, it seems a bit soon to count the PS4 – or any other games consoles – out just yet.
What do you think Sony should do to compete with mobile gaming? Do you think the mobile gaming bubble will burst, or will it continue to grow? Leave a comment and let us know.