Sony needs to watch the PS5 narrative take shape

The PS5 is a huge success, limited only by Sony’s ability to crank out more in a turbulent manufacturing economy. It’s again leading the sales race against Xbox for the second generation in a row, and by at least somewhat similar margins, according to estimates.

And yet, throughout this generation, there seems to be a narrative that continually takes shape regarding the PS5 and Sony’s attempt to squeeze consumers for extra cash. The word “foodie” has been around a lot since the system launched, for different reasons, and we have another one this week.

It is, of course, somewhat redundant to call a megacorporation “greedy” when its goal is to generate revenue. In practice, Sony is probably no more or less greedy than hundreds of other companies trying to squeeze as much profit from their customers as possible. And yet, once you’re branded with something in the video game space, it tends to stick. Xbox was hit with the idea that the Xbox One was “underpowered” and it basically lasted the entire generation. The Wii U was a “gadget” and it was the worst generation of hardware in modern Nintendo history.

Now, the “greed” narrative continues to be brought up with Sony, and it feels like it’s sticking, justified or not. But here are the main arguments, some of which even annoy PS fans themselves, making this a debate not exclusively about “console wars”.

  • Sony has just announced that it is raising PS5 prices by around 10% in many regions outside of the US due to inflation and currency complications. Immediately, Nintendo and Xbox, facing the same market conditions, announced that they would not raise the prices of their own hardware.
  • Sony was the main driver in the attempt to get the industry to accept an increase from $60 to $70 as the standard price for most new video games. This includes a huge range of games, from those that might be able to make this case (God of War) to those that can’t (Godfall). More recently, Sony sparked controversy for selling The Last of Us Part I Remake for $70, a remake of a 9-year-old game that’s already been remastered once, and now this new version, for $70. , costs more than the original.
  • Then there are only the nonstop comparisons with Microsoft, which offered all of its games on Xbox Game Pass “free” from launch as part of that service, while Sony said the idea was financially untenable. for them and their large-scale AAA games, which remain sold separately for that new $70 price. And while Sony has started releasing more PC games, unlike Microsoft, they’re trying to sell the same game twice on different platforms, years later, rather than giving gamers a free PC copy at launch. .

There are, of course, counter-arguments to what Sony is doing here, defending its position. Any Microsoft comparisons may have to take into account that Sony, although a large company with a $100 billion market cap, is not Microsoft with its $2 trillion market cap, so ‘they can afford to consume a lot more cost when Sony can’t.

For game pricing, there’s the perennial debate that game prices have been stuck at $60 for ages now, far beyond what inflation (even before this recent period of hyper -inflation) should have already pushed them up, and Sony’s decision makes sense. The counter-counter-argument is that games have many more revenue streams than ever before, from DLC to microtransactions, and the industry is bigger and more profitable than ever.

But the more these issues arise, the more Sony continues to make pricing and policy changes that seem designed to line their pockets and the out-of-pocket expenses of their customers. When your product is in this much in demand, you box do things like raise prices and still achieve all of your goals, but I see growing frustration even among Sony fans that things like this continue to happen, and only exclusively within the PlayStation ecosystem, with Microsoft and Nintendo not taking similar action, either on console or game price. Sony’s goodwill may have a hard ceiling at some point here, and they should keep an eye on that.

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