Nikhil Kumar: Sony playing the wrong game with this Playstation 4 'launch'
Sony’s planners did a brilliant job of generating hype: the event was invitation-only
Nikhil Kumar is The Independent's New York correspondent. He was formerly assistant editor on the foreign desk and has also done a variety of jobs on the city desk, where he wrote about markets, commodities and other business and economics topics.
Saturday 23 February 2013
US Outlook What was Sony thinking? The Japanese firm clearly studied Apple's marketing playbook when it put together the New York Playstation event this week. But it's just as clear that it failed to read all the way to the end.
Sony's planners did a brilliant job of generating hype: the event was invitation-only, with no intimation of what was coming, and a teaser website was set up, offering mere hints that the presentation had something to do with the Playstation franchise.
Everyone, however, expected the unveiling of the Playstation 4, much like everyone expected the new iPhone before its super-secret launch. The timing seemed right, more than seven years on since the release of the last version of the console, and the gaming community couldn't wait to get its hands on the new device.
But at least we saw an iPhone at the iPhone launch. At Sony's event, we saw lots of slick videos of what the Playstation 4 can do, of the hi-fi graphics it can generate. But there was no sign of the console. Nor was there a launch date or a price.
This is a risky game. The Playstation franchise is not what it used to be. Sales have declined since the glory days of the Playstation 2. Sony desperately needs to win back the attention of its customers. No doubt some bright spark inside the company's marketing department thought that the way to stem the decline would be to play hard to get.
But modern consumers are fickle. They can pick from among a plethora of gadgets. If you go about it the right way, they will listen to your pitch but only for so long.
Sony will be hoping that all 1,200 people who filed into New York's Hammerstein ballroom for the "launch" this week will return for the launch, whenever it takes place. But even if they do, the hype would have evaporated. Sony had everyone's attention this week, and it squandered it. Let's hope for the company's sake that the Playstation 4 is a good enough device to pull in the customers by itself, without the help of the marketing department.
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