The PS5’s sales lead is not slim (Picture: Sony)
It’s the first week of January and Sony has become the first of the big three to do something in the new year, with a trailer showcasing ‘their’ upcoming games and confirming 2024 release dates for Silent Hill 2 and Metal Gear Solid Delta. I put their in quotes because none of the games are actually made by Sony, except for presumed live service game Concord – which is disappointing but not unexpected.
We’re now getting on for two and a half years since Sony announced a new single-player game, which sounds crazy but is unfortunately true. We only had one major exclusive last year, in Spider-Man 2, and I get the feeling we’ll be lucky to even have that much this year. Especially as, with the PS5 Pro, Sony seem determined to once again release more hardware than software.
All last year, fans like me complained that Sony was being too distant and not giving us anything to look forward to and I’m pretty certain that’s not going to change significantly this year. Maybe they’ll announce something like Ghost Of Tsushima 2, which has already been leaked, but I give a less than 50% chance that they’ll release anything major before next year.
The question of why Sony is being like this has been rattling around for months and there’s no real answer because not only are their actions seemingly illogical, but no one seems to have any useful behind the scenes insight as to what is going on.
For me, I think it’s a combination of internal turmoil over live service games and the simple fact that the console is flying off shelves so why rock the boat? Both of these seem pretty terrible reasons to me, but they also sound like something a complacent corporation would do.
We have no idea whether live service games are still the focus for the next few years or not and I’m dubious that the new boss, to replace Jim Ryan, is suddenly going to come in and admit the last two years have been wasted and they’re changing direction. I wish they would but I’m not holding my breath.
Ironically, I think it’s Microsoft that best understands the problem, which is that basically the PlayStation 5 is now too big to fail.
Ghost Of Tsushima – a sequel is a long time coming (Picture: Sony)
‘We lost the worst generation to lose in the Xbox One generation, where everybody built their digital library of games,’ said Phil Spencer last year. ‘This idea that if we just focused more on great games on our console, that somehow we’re going to win the console race, I think doesn’t really lay into the reality of most people.’
He’s referring to the idea that once you’re in the PlayStation ecosystem (or any other) there’s very little reason to leave if all your digital content is there, and so even if there was a great game on Xbox it’s not enough to want to get another console and leave all your old games behind.
The reverse of that logic though, is that now the PlayStation 5 is well established and a massive hit there’s also no need to rush out more games. Just as a The Last Of Us quality game wouldn’t push the needle on the Xbox it’d only make PlayStation 5 slightly more successful, which is why Sony seems to now be limiting itself to only one or two first party exclusives a year.
If Ghost Of Tsushima 2, for example, costs $200+ million to make and is the difference between selling 25 million and 25.1 million consoles, it’s no wonder Sony no longer sees it as an important priority.
The PlayStation 5 is literally too successful, which is not only making it hard for Microsoft to compete – to the point where they’ve had to rip up the whole industry to even have a chance – but it’s made Sony risk averse and overly cautious.
Ecosystems can die, and games for the current generation will always be much more important than those for the previous ones, so there is a chance for Xbox and others to make a mark, but it’s a much smaller chance than it’s ever been before. That’s not only bad for competition but it’s bad for the market leader too.
By reader Gaston
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