Does Sony Listen To The Gamers?
This isn't a rhetorical question; we're just interested to see what people think. Everyone always complains that big, mega-global corporations never listen to John Q. Taxpayer, but gamers have always been quite vocal in their requests and complaints (thank the Internet for that). The question is, do you believe Sony listens to their targeted audience?
Well, we could look at the evidence. First off, many are demanding a price cut for the PlayStation 3 and Sony has yet to deliver, but in this case, it simply may not be a feasible option. As much as they may want to drop the price of the system, they just went through a major corporate shuffle, they lost $3 billion last year, and they only recently managed to lower the manufacturing cost on the PS3 to about $445/machine. This means they're still losing money on every PS3 sold, but a $45 loss is far more agreeable in this recession than a $145 loss, which would occur if the price of the system fell to $299. We're only theorizing, here, but it seems logical, right? In this case, it may not be a matter of Sony "listening" to the fans, as the entire situation may be dictated by numbers and nothing else.
But outside of that- recent examples have included fan demand for the return of rumble, which Sony responded to with the Dual Shock 3. Then there's the demand for a better Network, and over the past few years, we've seen immense growth and expansion on the PSN (ranging from the Store to online gaming). The latter may have happened, anyway, but it was a common complaint amongst Sony fans, so it may stand to reason that Sony heard the outcry. On the other hand, we sense there is still a large group of gamers that demand backwards compatibility in the PS3 and Sony really isn't interested in entertaining the thought. Or at least, they show no visible interest, and it could be difficult to ascertain the size of the group that values b/c. As for customer service, we can and will say that beyond any shadow of a doubt, our experiences have always been excellent. Microsoft's customer service, on the other hand, is typically a nightmare.
Many will complain that Sony lost a ton of third-party exclusives going into this generation, and that likely remains a valid point. They didn't really listen to the loyalists who stuck by Sony through the PS1 and PS2 years, only to find their favorite franchises had made their way to other platforms. But much like the price drop issue, this may be more of a numbers issue. When the PS3 first launched, the user base was tiny, the system was expensive, developers were confused (as they always are early on with PlayStation hardware), and Microsoft had a ton of cash. It couldn't have been too difficult to purchase timed exclusives when the publishers examined the situation. The only thing is, Sony's policy of never buying exclusives does tend to clash with Microsoft's willing desire to do exactly that. Some Sony fans say they should step up and compete for exclusives. Look at the possibility that Mass Effect 2 won't be on the PS3...
These are just a few thoughts to chew on, but in your experience, would you say that Sony stays in touch with its fans? Or are they more removed than they should be? It's an interesting question, really.
3/17/2009 Ben Dutka