Despite being one of the best publishers in the industry, and managing to bring out critical hit after critical hit, Sony has failed to produce huge chart-topping games like Gears of War and Halo. Outside of Gran Turismo, Sony’s IPs have yet to hit the big time, partially due to poor marketing – something that Sony’s Worldwide Studios President has taken notice of.
When questioned by GameInformer why Microsoft were able to sell just one game in 2011, Gears of War 3 (although, to be fair, they did have other games), and it still managed to sell more than all of Sony’s products combined, Shuhei Yoshida admitted that their increased lineup stretched marketing funds and focus (emphasis added):
It’s a combination of many things. First, we have to be very honest about our games’ quality as well. We love our games, but we can point out many issues when you look at the titles individually.
Another thing is focus. When you have ten games coming out in a year compared to two or three, how much focus you get from our business and marketing side is very hard. From a portfolio side, we were very excited about the games we had last year, but we probably diluted support for each title.
He was then asked whether Sony could end up producing less games. After talking about Sony’s love for new IPs he closed with an admission that the company should develop fewer games and support them more (emphasis added):
It’s easy to say, “Yeah, let’s make three games a year.” But game development is dynamic. You cannot plan to do that. You already have to have a certain number of games in the pipeline hoping they hit in a certain year. We love working on new IPs. It’s really hard to predict when these games get finished.
It’s a challenge, but I think we could and probably should be focused on a smaller number of titles so each one gets the best support.
With titles like The Last Guardian – which sadly is unlikely to sell well – being stuck in development for years, and games like Resistance 3 failing to pass a million sales, Sony’s plan to release a huge number of quality games doesn’t seem to be working for them. And, when you factor in the fact that Microsoft has managed to top the NPD six months running with the help of a fewer number or far higher marketed products, it’s understandable why the cash-strapped company might want to release fewer games. Unfortunately, while a drop in Sony-produced content might be good for their bank balance, it certainly isn’t good for gamers – titles like Heavy Rain and Flower would never have been funded by a different publisher.
With the PlayStation 4’s release drawing ever closer, it’ll be interesting to see which route Sony decides to adopt – tons of games, little marketing or a few games with tons of marketing. I know which one I’d prefer.