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The game industry needs Sony to Outsell Microsoft for sake of customer and developer freedom


It's a very good thing that the Playstation 4 is outselling the Xbox One for many reasons. However, there are two main reasons the industry needs Sony to win (especially in North America). Gaming as a whole will be better for all of us if this happens.
In order to truly explain the prior statement, we have to go back to the point and time where Sony (nor Microsoft) had any home system presence at all. I'm talking about the NES/Sega Master System and SNES/Genesis eras of gaming. Back in those days, Nintendo's NES was the popular sytem and had literally all the third party support. That was paritially because Sega at the time was a company extremely adverse to working with others. But the problem that came from this was now any developers that wanted to make games had only Nintendo to work with. Nintendo knew this and too full advantage of it.



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The gamers of today probably wouldn't know about this next part, but the older gamers sure as hell remember the Nintendo "Seal of quality". It was that little gold emblem on the corner of every NES game. It served 2 purposes. The first was marketing, showing customers that they were getting a quality game according to Nintendo's "standards". The second purpose was to hold developers to certain guidelines that they had to follow or not get their game released. That was a huge problem for developers. And because of this strong arm tactic by Nintendo, there were many ideas that never saw the light of day. And it was all because Nintendo said "it's not up to our standard". Nintendo did this because they had control of the marketshare as well as knew Sega was unwilling to work with third parties.


In the SNES and Genesis era, the "Seal of Quality" still flourished. It was still used as marketing. And it was still used as a way to put developers in a stranglehold. However, by this time, Sega had slowly begun to relax their once blind-to-everyone-but-ourselves stance and work with some third parties, even creating their own quality seal. But unfortunately, it was too late to have much of an effect on where third party support would go. Even though people wanted to work with Sega, Nintendo held the marketshare. So because of that, if you wanted to make a profit, it was still either follow Nintendo's Seal of Quality guideline or you don't get published on their system.


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The industry finally had a chance to break free of Nintendo's Seal of Quality with the coming of the CD era of home systems ( the PS1 and Sega Saturn specifically). When the Playstation released, they gave developers freedom to do what they wanted. There were no mandates that game makers were held to to be published on their system. That combined with the abilites of the CD dwarfing the cartridge gave Sony huge marketshare in the industry and even greater success. And as a result, this is where Nintendo lost an enormous chunk of third party support. There were some bad games that came as a result. But there were even more great games a gems to come from this newfound freedom. And Sony's Playstation success was so great that eventually Nintendo had to stop the "Seal of Quality" program. And to even add to the developer freedom, Sony created the Net Yaroze, a system where any would-be developer could create a game and experiment with. In short, because of Sony, for the first time in the industry, developers were free to do what they wanted.


This freedom lasted through to the next generation as well, that being the PS2/ Xbox/ Gamecube era. And during that era as well, possibly because of Sony's marketshare stronghold against the competition, developers still had the same freedoms they enjoyed from the generation prior.




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However, with the PS3/ 360/ Wii era, something started to change. In the beginning, it looked like developers would have the freedoms they were accustomed to. But that was not to be. The Xbox 360 was the first out. And as a result, they immediately grabbed marketshare because they were totally unchallenged for a year (a year and a half in Europe). When the PS3 and Wii came out a year later, the PS3 had numerous challenges. First off, the price of the PS3 was as much as $250 more than the 360 in many places. And second, the marketshare disadvantage Sony had with them coming a year to year and a half later. These two factors gave the Playstation 3 a slow start. And that slow start help Microsoft's marketshare grow. It grew so much that Microsoft saw this as an opporitunity to take control of the industry. Originally, the Xbox 360 was free to play online for the first year and a half of it's existence. But due to their growing marketshare dominance at the time, they took intiative to make their system closed, make people pay to play online, and start developer mandates. So just like Nintendo did in the 80's because they had a market advantage, Microsoft decided to make developers bend to their will. They did this by making rules such as making developers give them games with the same parity as the competition or better. And also having their versions of games come out first with little to no mention of the competiting versions. And that was aside from all Microsofts fees for patching and the like. And because Sony didn't have marketshare with the PS3 in America specifically, developers were almost forced to play ball.


The Playstation 3 did eventually manage to outsell the 360 on a global scale. But it took almost 7 years to do it. The damage had already been done. And the biggest factor to this that Microsoft dominated the biggest market for gaming, the United States.


But there is a silver lining to all this. Back when the Playstation 4 and Xbox One were announced, both companies made their directions in gaming clear. While Sony, did take some things from Microsoft, such as paying to play online, that's all paying for online is regulated to. F2P games still don't need Sony's pay service. Nor do any of your Apps. So they're still trying to give the customers some sense of freedom. Microsoft on the other hand have clearly shown they want the customers and developers to have as little freedom as possible while they get maximum profit from it. So for all you out there that called anyone that spoke out about Microsoft's doings Sony fanboys, you really should be thanking them. Because had it not been for them, you'd have even less freedom over what you purchase than you do right now.


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Right now, the Playstation 4 isn't even available in as many places as the Xbox One. But due to superior hardware at a less expensive price, the Playstation 4 is outselling the Xbox One. Advantages such as time on the market and price that Microsoft once enjoyed are nullified. And that's a good thing for the industry. It's a good thing because the more Sony Outsells Microsoft, the less Microsoft has a chance to try to strong arm the industry as they tried in the past. Right now, even though Microsoft feels the pressure and dropped some if their restrictive policies, they still have some such as the case with ID@Xbox. Where developers are still mandated to give Microsoft games first or at the same time, regardless of their own freedoms or plans. And developers are already making the case how they don't like such clauses. If Sony outsells them enough (or even at the rate they're doing), you'll see those restrictive policies vanish because they'd be forced to.


Sony freed the industry from Nintendo's restrictions in the PS1 era. Now if the customers are to have some control over what they buy and developers freedom over their own creations, Sony will need to dominate once again in this new generation. The good news is with the Playstation 4 selling at a blistering rate, that might just happen. In the end, just look at history. In eras when Sony dominated, you never seen/heard about developers being mandated or customers losing control of their purchased products.


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