Sony & Microsoft are about to enter a digital fistfight this November, when the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One consoles go head-to-head at retail. Typically separated by months or even a year, the two platform holders will instead meet to decide the fate of the 8th generation — or at least, its opening skirmish — by launching just one week apart.
In a Public Relations duel dogged by unfortunate incidents, from ill-prepared press gatherings to comedically inept conferences (here’s looking at you Microsoft), Sony’s level-headed consistency has won them plenty of plaudits, but just how does the company plan to match Microsoft’s most recent gamble, a free copy of FIFA 14 with every European pre-order?
Speaking to MCV on Thursday, SCEE President Jim Ryan ruled out any similar moves from Sony, on account of the console’s already staggering success. Having shifted more PS4 pre-orders by September of this year, than the company did actual PlayStation 3s during its opening quarter of sales, Ryan believes no additional incentives are necessary.
“Platform holders and publishers run pre-order campaigns, and if you need to increase momentum then they dial it up a little bit with some promotional stuff, it’s a rational thing to do. But do we need to do that? No.”
Whether or not Ryan’s comments amount to a dig at Microsoft’s strategy, the FIFA deal does appear to have done some good business for the company, with total Xbox One pre-orders now doubling those of its immediate predecessor, the Xbox 360. Asked if the hardware giant’s close partnership with EA proved troubling to Sony, Ryan responded that the publisher’s games remained multi-platform and were often displayed to the public via PS4 hardware.
With 1 million pre-orders already taken, it’s clear the PlayStation 4 requires no extra incentives to sell, though Ryan’s comments do seem to indicate the obligatory and highly marketable appearance of official bundles at a later date, perhaps following a slowdown in sales. While Sony has never been averse to packaging triple-A titles alongside its home consoles or even controllers – the new GTA 5/ PS3 Slim bundle being just the latest example – the Japanese giant lags someway behind Microsoft’s obvious bundle-mania. The Xbox 360 featured well over 15 bundle collections during its heyday, including special packs for:
- Halo 3 (w/ exclusive green & gold finish)
- Resident Evil 5 (w/ red finish)
- COD: Modern Warfare 2 (w/ exclusive matte black & gray finish)
- Halo Reach (w/ exclusive silver Spartan finish)
- Gears of War 3 (w/ exclusive metallic red & black GOW skull finish)
- Kinect Star Wars (w/ exclusive R2D2 console, C3PO pad finish)
- COD: Modern Warfare 3 (w/ exclusive worn steel finish)
- Halo 4 (w/ exclusive silver & cobalt conduit finish)
Ryan goes on to attribute some of the PS4’s pre-release success to a new company-wide culture at Sony. Having previously turned off fans with declarations like Ken Katuragi’s infamous “I will work more hours to buy [a PS3],” the Japanese company is now working to offer more consistency and less bravado.
“we have learnt a lot of lessons from last time around. There were a number of things we did on PS3 that we would not knowingly repeat. We sat and reflected and soul searched a lot. And we decided early on that we wanted to be single-minded in our pursuit of the gamer with PS4. […] From the start, people have had a clear idea of what PS4 stands for and they can either take it or leave it, and it seems like lots of people want to take it. There’s no ambiguity. There’s no confusion. And it has helped us gain momentum ahead of launch.”
The Sony Europe boss also admitted to failings in the online sector, an area in which the Xbox 360’s dominance was rarely, if ever troubled this generation.
“…the quality of online experience is becoming increasingly important. We feel we’ve learned a lot in that area, because we were frankly poor in the beginning. And now we have come a long way in catching up and we are going to make a further step-change come PS4 launch.”
Despite Sony’s reluctance to pair off PlayStations with software at launch, many retailers have taken to creating their own money-spinning bundles. They include:
- Battlefield 4 w/PS+ Membership Pack
- Killzone: Shadow Fall w/PS+ Membership Pack
- Watch Dogs Pack
- Double DualShock 4 Pack
- Knack Pack
- Killzone: Shadow Fall w/PS+ Membership Pack
- 1 Game, 1 Accessory Bundle, including 21 Titles (some of which have not yet received a release date) & either the PlayStation Camera or an additional Dualshock 4 Pad
- Killzone: Shadow Fall Pack
- Drive Club w/ or w/o additional Dualshock 4 Pad
- Madden 25 Pack
- Call of Duty: Ghosts Pack
- Knack Pack w/ or w/o additional Dualshock 4 Pad
- Battlefield 4 Pack
*All Bundles are currently sold-out.
Will you be picking up the PlayStation 4 at launch? What kind of bundles would you like to see Sony offer its customers? Would you rather purchase innovative products from an anti-consumer company, or less-pioneering efforts from a more fan-friendly outlet? Have your say in the comments below.
PlayStation 4 launches on November 15, 2013 in North America & November 29, 2013 across Europe, New Zealand & Australia.
Follow Sam on Twitter @GamingGoo.