As news regarding Sony’s future plans on how they are planning to use their recently acquired Cloud service Gaikai emerges, the Daily Reaction duo of Dan Oravasaari and Sebastian Moss weigh up the issue. Having spoken about Gaikai before, we discuss just what it means for Sony to open up their IPs across new platforms, and the future of their products as a whole.
Danielle: For Sony to open the doors to their IPs to platforms that are not completely under their umbrella is both a smart, and extremely dangerous move on their part. As Sony will be able to open up their products and franchises to a whole new set of gamers out there who have not been apart of the PlayStation family, yet they also risk reducing the need to actually join the family altogether – why buy the cow, when you can get the milk for free, as they say.
As casual gamers have been seeing a number of their beloved titles (Plants vs. Zombies, Angry Birds) actually come to the major contenders in the videogame market, it could only be a matter of time before they started seeing bigger titles come their way. As franchises like Madden and Civilization have already made the trek over to the mobile space, it was only a matter of time before other developers brought their IPs as well. Using the Gaikai service, Sony is now looking to bring some of their biggest franchises of this generation to not only the mobile space, but to almost any platform that will run their cloud. Allowing gamers who have not normally been able to know who Kratos is, now know how much fun it is being the God of War. Hopefully bringing more momentum to Sony franchises, and increase sales overall.
The problem Sony will face is that they must find a way to whet the taste of average consumers, while leaving them hungry. If consumers already own part of a franchise, and that product is able to give them more than they need, there is no need to purchase a more expensive home console. Yet, if the products do not give a quality experience, those consumers will only move farther away from Sony’s IPs. Pushing them in the wrong direction, and leaving the market open for Sony’s competition to pick up the pieces.
Sebrina: If I’m new to gaming, have a fast internet connection and a Smart TV, there’s a good chance that within the year I’ll be able to play PS3 games without having to buy a PS3. Here’s the thing, selling PS3s isn’t fun for Sony – they cost a lot to make, retailers grab a huge chunk, and Sony makes only a little profit (and will likely make a loss with the PS4’s launch price). So having a virtual PS3 easily accessible makes that problem go away, they don’t have to make you jump through an expensive hoop before they can actually start making money off you with games, movies and the like.
However, it creates another problem, something that ultimately caused the downfall of OnLive. They have to have enough gaming servers out there to satisfy all the players who want to game at any given moment, which means they have to shoulder the cost of that hardware, without being able to charge you the 300 bucks they usually would.
Assuming Sony can overcome this issue, they have a huge opportunity to expand their audience. Because the average gamer (with good internet) can start playing instantly on their TV, on their PC and on their mobile without having to buy any special hardware, the audience willing to play PlayStation will be exponentially larger. Think of how many people are waiting for the PS3 to hit $199, and now imagine if that was $0.
This is a huge chance for Sony to turn its IPs from one-to-two million sellers, to ten million plus blockbusters.
Danielle: Exactly, Sony has a really big opportunity right now, and if they play their cards right they could easily take the next generation. Sadly, as we have seen from Sony countless times, they do not seem to put all their cards on the table when they could take the pot. With the cost of running Gaikai’s servers, and advertising, Sony really will be stretched to their limits once they finally launch their cloud based service. Which means that Sony will not advertise, and they will not supply enough servers, or they will be slow to react to increased demand. Ultimately leading to a mild success, as their audience cannot outgrow their resources, and Sony just does not have enough to give what is really needed to own the future market.
This does not mean that Sony will not eventually be able to grow Gaikai to a service that could rival Netflix, but it’s more that if Sony doesn’t keep pushing themselves, they will be taken by a company that can. As OnLive was saved by Lauder Partners, GameStop’s upcoming service, and the possibility of a cable network presence, there still is a huge question as to what will happen in this upcoming war, and who will actually come out on top of this emerging market. Sony does have an edge with an already established base in the TV market, while not as strong as they used to be, but with the added ability to incorporate a seamless gaming experience without the need for another box, they could force that markets hand in adopting Gaikai’s service.
Sebrina: Another problem they face, even if they get it on every device out there and into a ton of people’s hands, is that they can’t afford to neglect console. At the very least, next gen will be more about console than cloud, beyond that it’s hard to know. But the thing is, Uncharted wouldn’t look that great on an iPhone – the screen is just way too small. A lot would have to be reworked, resized to ensure that the games look nice on every screen size, every platform. While this will be important, Sony has to keep supporting core console users the most. We all want Sony’s IPs and platform on as many devices as possible, but only if it’s not to the detriment of the existing platforms.
Long term, the relevance of consoles will likely decrease as the easy accessibility, always updated, cross-platform cloud takes over. What we could see is the IPs we love being on everything we own.
Interestingly, there might actually be one very good benefit to come out of the amount of cloud gaming companies that are preparing to enter over the next 5 years. Exclusives. Now, some publications have said that this gen exclusives have died, but that’s short-sighted. When the only thing that differentiates the Xbox-cloud, PlayStation-cloud and AT&T-cloud on your phone is an app, this means that the companies have to work on other ways to get you to sign up to their service. With the EAs and Ubisofts out there likely to adopt a ‘be available on everything’ approach, exclusives will be one of the few unique selling points. Knock on chandler wood, that means a bigger investment in strong IPs that make their service the one to own.
Sony may be killing the PlayStation console, but they’re giving life to a new, stronger, beginning.
Would you still pick up a PS4 if you could just play it off of your TV? Do you think Sony bringing their IPs to other devices is a smart move by Sony? Or will this mark the death of the PlayStation as Sony pulls a Sega? Let us know in the comments, Email us at [email protected], or hit on Sebrina and Danielle directly. Also listen to the Bad Gamers podcast to cure all ailments.