Sony relies on social to spur PS4 sales

Sony is relying on mobile and social features of its newly-launched Playstation 4 (PS4) to steal a march on its gaming rivals as competition with Microsoft and Nintendo heats up in 2013.

PS4 logo

The Japanese behemoth unveiled the flagship device yesterday (Februaru 20) at a press event in New York unveiling a host of new social and personalisation features.

Social integration lies at the core of Sony’s PS4 proposition with users able to connect their profile to their social networks so they can share content with contacts. For instance, the PS4’s menu screen recommends content to users based on what their friends are accessing and their previous purchase history.

The PS4’s interactive Ustream feature also lets users broadcast their gameplay to friends who can offer help or commentary on the action in real time.

Jack Tretton, Sony Computer Entertainment, CEO, America, says: “Our next generation console will change the way you interact with friends while you play.

“PlayStation 4 lets you instantly share images and videos of your favourite gameplay moments on Facebook with a single press on the Dualshock 4 controller’s ‘share’ button.”

The PS4’s new compression and decompression technology also lets users upload and download media more efficiently as social becomes one of the core elements of gaming according to Mark Cerny, PlayStation 4’s lead architect.

“Our goal is to make sharing a video as popular in the PlayStation 4 generation as the sharing of screenshots is today”, he adds.

Also unveiled at the event was Sony’s new PlayStation App which effectively lets users turn their smartphones into a second screen.

For example, a user playing a console game on their TV can use the Playstation app to view a map or see how a friend is tackling the part of the same game on their smartphone.

Much of the launch presentation focused on the PS4’s technical features (see video below) and Sony offered little details on content partnership opportunities or its plans to market the device.

However the launch, its first launch since 2006, does come as competition in the console sector heats up with Microsoft expected to unveil the next generation Xbox device at the E3 gaming conference in June and sales of Nintendo’s Wii on the wane.

DuBose Cole, a strategist at Mindshare UK, says: “For a serious gaming audience, the PS4 looks built to deliver, but it creates the question of whether Sony will be able to generate an appeal outside of this segment, especially in a gaming landscape that is increasingly diversifying in what it means to game. 

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