A Playstation Ecosystem

"Videogames are bad for you? That's what they said about Rock n Roll" -Shigeru Miyamoto

Current Affairs

Sony is an interesting company to consider with regard to gaming as they've attempted the home console, VR console, and portable console sectors with with great, good, and moderate success respectively. As the Playstation 4 sells exceptionally well there's curiosity behind what Sony's response will be to Microsoft announcing the XBox Scorpio which will more than likely run at or around $500 (considering it's a premium gaming system and all). The expectation is that the PS4 Slim would drop to $249 (with the expectation of the system dropping to $199 during the holiday sales rush), and the PS4 Pro potentially dropping to $349 (with the same expectation of the system dropping to $299 during the holiday sales rush), this could potentially be applied to the PSVR as well dropping to $349 (you see the trend?) obviously as long as margins permit. 

With price drops and a significantly vast gaming library that continues to grow Sony would be in comfortable position to enjoy it's lead in the gaming space from a business point of view. There's also the PS Plus service offering the monthly discounts and free games available that has enjoyed steady growth and reasonable offerings. As with all things there could be some much warranted improvement, an increase and focus on triple A VR content, cleaning up the UX of the Playstation store and PS Plus, reigning in on the mobile apps that have been released as well as cleaning up the UX and UI in those areas, just to name a few.

Competition from Microsoft won't slow down anytime soon, though the current gaming library and addressable offerings from Sony won't slow down either, it's an interesting time for the gaming industry as companies are offering up what they believe is best and reasonable for the consumer. Though curiosities around Sony and gaming in general remain, and that could be due to my extensive use and time with the Nintendo Switch since its release and its placement in my home. I'm not curious so much as Sony replicating the sytem rather I'm curious of whether they'd consider taking nuggets of lessons from Nintendo, Apple, Microsoft, and Amazon and deliver true Playstation ecosystem.

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Playstation 2020

I'm not suggesting that Sony build out a tablet or phone or home connected devices as that would be ridiculous in every way. What I'm theorizing is the capability Sony has at taking a look at their hardware and software and building out from their experience, learning from their mistakes, and giving gamers an experience they've only dreamed of and wished for. There's no doubt the upcoming Playstation 5 or whatever they decide to call the system (which I argue should just be Playstation) will obviously have the bells and whistles of 4K this, teraflops that, and all the other technical jargon regular consumers don't drool over. What I'm leading to is Sony develop a suite of software for developers to make games only having to deliver that one package that can be played on or in VR, the regular home console, and a mobile console that scales down said package. 

Not all devices would need to be purchased together, VR and Mobile (Vita) would be complimentary to an extent as they are now to the PS4. Forecasting the future of technology can be tricky as some methodologies move faster or slower than others. But considering a reduction in cost of GPUs, SSDs, and LED screens over the next two years is a given, there are possibilities that could come to fruition with the above concept. Playing Destiny 3 in VR then transitioning to the TV and when necessary, with the game saved and away from home picking up where the player left off and joining a raid over the handheld device with voice chat and all (Wifi or 5G connection of course). This would require the engineering teams to bring their best to make such an ecosystem work together flawlessly, this is an advanced functioning of Apple's handoff feature between Mac and iOS devices. It's a premise of what it seemed Sony wanted to deliver initially but couldn't live up to the concept, a similar premise of what Nintendo may hope to do with the Switch.

Obviously each device would be priced at a premium, it's conceivable that each device would likely cost $399 a piece, it would also be clear a consumer is not obligated to purchase each to enjoy the gaming experiences rather they can if they so choose. Theorizing futher into a realm of granduar the mobile device coming with a 256GB flash drive and 4-5 hours of battery life isn't too ambitious if you're looking through the lens of 2019 and forward. A wireless VR headset with enhanced tracking and positioning within the headset itself without the requirement of a camera isn't hard to consider either. And the home console packing a +2TB drive understanding the days of bluray have long gone and streaming is the norm would nix the need for a disc drive (if necessary games could be sold on USB-C flash drives ¯\_(ツ)_/¯). Taking a risk in 2020 would be more than a requisite, cleaning up the mobile apps would be vital, and improving the subscription offerings a grave necessity. 

Services

With the hardware taken care of as previously mentioned Sony should develop a strong focus on services, though decent now would still use a lot of work. The current app situation is unnecessarily scattered, a separate chat app and an overall dashboard app doesn't make sense. At their current iterations the Playstation Store, Playstation App for phone and tablet, and Playstation messaging apps are poorly built as if they were an afterthought. With varying services in Playstation Vue, Playstation Now, and Playstation Plus there has to be some thought to combine these services or provide teirs of a monthly or annual fee in some form.

When it comes to the apps Sony has 20 iPhone and iPad apps, five of them that could effectively be combined; the regular playstation app, playstation messages, playstation vue & playstation video (which are effectively redundant), and playstation communities. There's no reason the messages and communities app couldn't simply combined into one similar to the vue and video apps, the same applies to the main app which could host all services Sony offers. What their immediate problem appears to be is a lack of direction within their mobile development unit. Cleaning up their backend and taking a more broad look at the overall UX and UI, are two significant factors in overhauling their mobile approach on phones and tablets. 

Providing a clear understanding and guidance around the services available would be beneficial to both Sony and consumers. The consideration of bundling the services into one app shouldn't be trivial it should be a goal to insure users aren't filling up their devices with apps that barely receive support as the company is focused on fixing others. In terms of the services currently available the discussion around a Netflix style gaming library simply isn't conceivable for people that have untenable internet connections let alone what may happen with the FCC removing protections that net neutrality provided. It's ideal but not something that could happen soon.

In the end, Sony should consider focusing on developing an ecosystem with a strong support system in place for mobile and VR gameplay from triple A to indie developers. Developing such an ecosystem gives Sony a likely increase in consumers and gives gamers options of gameplay and services that fit in something of an all in one package.