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Sony's Yoshida isn't sure why PS4 is selling so well, what to do about it
Sony's Yoshida isn't sure why PS4 is selling so well, what to do about it
August 19, 2014 | By Christian Nutt

August 19, 2014 | By Christian Nutt
More: Console/PC, Business/Marketing

"But I for one am a bit nervous because we do not completely understand what's happening. You need to understand why your products are selling well so you can plan for the future, right? It defied the conventional thinking."
- Sony Worldwide Studios president Shuhei Yoshida

The PlayStation 4 has sold through 10 million units of hardware to consumers in the nine months since it was first released to the marketplace.

That's actually got Sony a bit spooked, says Worldwide Studios president Shuhei Yoshida: "As soon as we see a great sales number, our instinct tells us we should be concerned about future sales, right? Are we exhausting all the core gamers?"

That comes from a new interview with Eurogamer, Yoshida says the company is coming to terms with who the PS4 audience is -- particularly those purchasers who skipped the PlayStation 3 or the prior generation altogether.

"So we want to understand who are these consumers who we do not necessarily consider core gamers, who are purchasing PS4 and why they are doing it and what they are doing with PS4, so we can create a bit more of a positive future, rather than saying, wow, we have sold to every single core gamer. So that's what we are doing," Yoshida says.

He also noted that Ubisoft's Watch Dogs PlayStation 4 version outsold the PS3 version -- pointing to a predictably healthy uptake of the system with triple-A-loving core gamers. Sony knows that this audience is on board; now, says Yoshida, the trick is meeting the challenge of appealing to other audiences.

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Robert Carter
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At first I was so happy reading this article

"You need to understand why your products are selling well so you can plan for the future, right?"

This shows the opposite of Kings mentality (and many others) who are just happy to have such a success and barrel forward without understanding WHY they were a success. King is now starting to struggle, EA and Ubisoft and Capcom can sell a sequel with 3.5+ million in sales and somehow call it a failure, etc. Sony knows they need to understand what is going well for them to keep going forward.

But then...

"...the trick is meeting the challenge of appealing to other audiences."

You know what the XBone tried to do? Too much. Im not interested in most of its functionality. They should have had a main focus of having a great game console first, other functionality second. You know what the Wii and Wii U tried to do? Too much. The catalog of great games is too few in number and I dont want a gimmicky controller (To be fair: The Wii-U is getting much better and has more of a focus on being a gaming console, and I expect it to do well once games come into it)

PS4 can owe at least a part of its success (imo) to being games centric. Pay for online functionality sure, but well give you free and discounted games for your trouble. Twitch integration is games focused (ps4), controlling your TV channels (xbox) is not.

Sonys resources arent unlimited, if they reach for 'other audiences', less will be put into their core game focus. There is still a lot to do there: Why cant I play Crash Bandicoot (among others) on Vita yet? Are you going to continue to flesh out the PS1/PS2 classic store? This is a MAJOR selling point for me, more than half the reason I bought the vita was for mobile PS1 classics. Im willing to pay Sony, but if you dont provide I still have my PSP homebrew emulators.

Reaching too far for other audiences has crippled other companies Sony. Dont fall into that trap!

Jack Viney
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I feel like the reasoning behind Yoshida's remarks really focuses on the perception that they could exhaust their suppy of hardware customers sooner than they wanted to, and that they need to expand their target markets to ensure continued sales. The multimedia functionality of the PS4 is often said to be rather lacklustre, and that could be turning away potential customers from the console. There is room to improve the PS4 and turn it into more of an all-rounder without losing your core audience.

Lihim Sidhe
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I want to play devil's advocate but I agree with you.

The media server/DLNA features I used on my PS3 were excellent. It turned my PS3 from a console into an entertainment center.

I thought I had more to say. Tired from work.

Michael Thornberg
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And yet, DLNA is the very thing they stripped from PS4. And ironically is the only thing keeping me from getting one :/

Michael Joseph
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I don't think the main problem with the XB1 is that it's trying to do too much. I think it's vision for itself is inconsistent with it's execution. It wants to become a central home computing device, but it wants to operate as a closed appliance type of ecosystem that only pimps it's own services and those of it's partners.

If Microsoft simply adopted a more open vision like Valve has, it could easily dominate the console space.

But there's something broken within Microsoft's corporate bureaucracy that will not allow them to commit to allowing XB1 to become a more open device. I suppose over time as a public corporation grows, it's culture transforms from that of young, visionary, idealistic techies, to the unrewarding, unfullfilling, cynical, MBA, customer bullying, anti-competitive, protectionist sales racket culture that incentivises status quo maintaining, internal politicking, ass covering, review appeasing behavior.

Robert Carter
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Fair points, both of you.

There actually is a lot the Xbox can offer if it wasnt done with a seeming "us against them" mentality by Microsoft. Theyre making steps in the right direction (I love the 'every console is a dev kit' idea) but Microsofts method of running a business was never customer friendly. I still cant get over failures that only failed due to mismanagement like Zune or XNA. Man I miss XNA.

I dont know that its inevitable that companies fall prey to the culture you describe, though. Valve has been quite successful for a while, and could have easily become Origin or even that Ubisoft thing I hate so much and is the sole reason I refuse to buy their games on PC. And my experiences at Disney have actually been better than some of the indie startups Ive worked in (though not without its own problems).

But too many definitely do fall prey to that culture.

Gern Blanston
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I'm honestly not sure why he's so unsure. Sony came out with a very clear message from the very beginning about what direction they were going with the PS4. Creating a game-centric gaming console that was easy to develop for created a ton of enthusiasm and momentum for the Playstation brand. Consumers loved the message, there's really nothing more to it than that.

So don't fix it if it isn't broken and just keep doing what you've been doing.

*shrugs shoulders*

Karl Joyner
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Yea with a price range to 399.99, no drm, game sharing, and all the other features that sony showed during last year E3 that killed mircosoft conference. I don't know why Yoshida weren't so sure that the ps4 was selling that well.

it's funny how you said "just keep doing what you've been doing", Yoshida said the same thing to japanese developers of to do what they they've been doing in the past (90s I mean) and not appease much on the western audience or figure out western developers taste and not fix what was not broken in the first place.

He probably trying to find out what brings gamers buying the ps4 instead the 399, drm and all the stuff they show in e3 13. Idk will see.

Javier Degirolmo
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Sounds like a problem I'd like to have.

Maria Jayne
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I think they gave their customer base exactly what they wanted. A rare thing when you look at how Microsoft tried to sell their new console in 2013.

Turns out when you do that, you sell a lot of product.....

Jay N
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It's good to see they have strong sales, but I agree it's spooky, because the software currently available for the PS4, particularly its exclusives, really shouldn't warrant such a momentum. Which means something else is driving sales.

The Wii, too, had phenomenal launch and early lifetime figures, before it dropped like a stone once the fickle market shifted its focus.

Nintendo wasn't able to figure out what caused the change let's hope Sony is.

John Flush
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Hum, let me see, lots of people were ready for the next generation and your competitor pulled out a dynamite vest a few weeks before E3 last year and practically blew themselves up... Honestly, PS4 is doing well because they didn't screw up completely. Just think if they had games to back it up they would be reliving the PS2 era... instead they meander along waiting for everyone to catch up...

Leon T
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The shift from the Wii happened when Nintendo stopped releasing games that drove those sales. I think Jay N is right that Nintendo couldn't figure that out.

I think it's clear the PS4 is selling so well because its the only console that's not confusing or upsetting. The Wii U confuses people and the Xbox One upset people and both just become uninteresting as a result. The PS4 has no games that are pushing its sales but Sony is drawing gamers from the other user bases.

Sony also gained a lot of trust due to the great late gen support they gave the PS3. That's something both Nintendo and Microsoft failed to do.

It'll be interesting to see how long the great sales keep up as Nintendo and Microsoft get their act together. I think Sony had a weak E3 and their game lineup leaves much to be desired. There are some hyped games ,but so many hyped games end up bad or barely average these days I find it hard to be excited for them.

The best thing going for Sony is that it'll take a lot for Microsoft to gain back trust and third parties will never fully support Nintendo.