PS4’s Success Proves the Power of Positive Hype

PlayStation 4 is currently king of the hill, but what exactly put it there?

PlayStation 4 is currently king of the hill, but what exactly put it there?

In the previous generation, Xbox 360 dominated the domestic market (with the exception of that meteoric though short-lived rise of the Wii). PlayStation 3 struggled to get started and while it eventually managed to just squeak past the 360 in terms of worldwide sales, it never got the U.S. back after the PS2 owned the planet. Considering this, few predicted that PS4 would so easily outstrip Xbox One in the new generation.

However, it has happened. But how? Why? Sony has even admitted they can’t entirely explain their new system’s fantastic success – selling 25.3 million units in only a year and a half rivals the PS2’s performance – and even analysts seem mystified. Many believed that once Xbox One dropped in price, it would quickly catch up, but that didn’t happen. It didn’t happen when it was announced that the new $350 price tag was permanent. Overall, Xbox One has only managed to hold sway in the U.S. a few months since late 2013 when the two systems launched.

This is a lopsided battle between two very similar opponents.

This is a lopsided battle between two very similar opponents.

Right now, PS4 is ahead by a count of about 25 million to 13 million. The PS4 remains more expensive but perhaps more interesting than that is the relative similarity between the competing consoles. Neither has wowed the gaming world with a lot of must-have exclusives yet, which is even more surprising on Sony’s end because first-party titles are PlayStation’s bread-and-butter. There have been a few decent PS4 exclusives, like Killzone: Shadow FallDriveclubinFamous: Second Son and Bloodborne but none have really had a huge impact on hardware sales. PS4 just keeps trucking along, nice and steady, almost regardless of the games and price.

And that’s what’s so interesting. If you directly compare the two consoles, taking into account the standard consumer interests – price, games, online capabilities, reliability, etc. – neither seems to have a huge edge in any one category. Xbox One has proven to be far more reliable than the disastrous 360 out of the gate, the online capabilities are mostly similar (even though there have been well-documented issues with the PSN), and while PS4 may have a small edge in exclusives, the heavy hitters still aren’t here yet. We still need a new UnchartedGod of War and Gran Turismo to push things forward. Horizon: Zero Dawn looks great, too, and 2016 appears to be shaping up to be the year of the PS4. The only other issue is that PS4 multiplats do perform slightly better, hitting that 1080p/60fps benchmark more often.

The controllers are different but that's one of only a handful of contrasts.

The controllers are different but that’s one of only a handful of contrasts.

But as of right now, there doesn’t appear to be enough evidence to support the huge gap in sales. Therefore, we can come to only one conclusion: The immensely positive hype for PS4 that accumulated in spades before it launched is at least partially responsible. Do you recall when the two systems were announced? It was unanimous; it seemed like everyone loved PS4 while everyone hated Xbox One. It almost didn’t matter if you were an ardent fan of one or the other up until that point. Microsoft shot themselves in the foot and ended up looking like idiots, while Sony looked like gamer-loving saviors. They held a Facebook poll the summer before the two consoles launched and it was so lopsided (PS4 was at something like 97 percent), they had to shut it down early.

If you ask most PS4 owners today, they’ll say they’re not exactly blown away. They’re still waiting, they’ll probably say. They’re happy with the console, no doubt, but most will agree they expected – and still want – more. But they already bought it. And they didn’t buy an Xbox One. And despite a few small missteps, Sony hasn’t done anything to derail PS4’s momentum, so it just keeps riding those positive waves to victory. This really is representative of the power of positive media, especially in the Internet age. There’s no other way to fully explain the sales results thus far, and it’ll be interesting to see what happens down the road.

Bottom line: This is a lopsided battle between two surprisingly similar opponents. What else is there to say?

5 thoughts on “PS4’s Success Proves the Power of Positive Hype”

Hype has nothing to do with it. Microsoft needs to look at the things they have done to find answers to why the PS4 has sold so well and so many Xbox 360 user went with the PS4. Things like the RROD problem and how it was handled and the upcoming Win10 OS. Win10 is great but that “user agreement” is not and I doubt they’ll sell many Xbox Ones outside the USA when they start asking people to sign it and then there’s the issue with being a “trusted partner” with the NSA LoL! That will never help you sell anything. Hype is something that Microsoft uses and they do it with everything. They also pay YouTube gamers and the Gaming Media to “hype” and only say positive things about their system and games and to give negative reviews of Sony’s games and system. Consumers see right through that and Microsoft should know better. Sony hardly promotes their games or their system. Microsoft has only themselves to blame. Ofcourse all of this is my opinion and we all have one.

I mostly agree with that, except the part about consumers “seeing through” Microsoft’s tactics. If that were true, the Xbox 360 wouldn’t have dominated the U.S. last generation.

You’re giving consumers WAY too much credit as far as I’m concerned.

PlayStation 4 is winning because Microsoft are a bunch of tools. I wish it was more complicated or more elegant than that but it isn’t. I do agree that M$ screwed themselves from the start but PS4’s success is more about that than any positive vibes produced by Sony.

Hype is always powerful. In fact, it’s probably more powerful than any ad campaign could possibly be, ESPECIALLY when 99 percent of all the buzz is created online and the Internet thrives on buzz.

I thought more about this and I’m thinking it’s probably true. Hype really has played a big role in the PS4’s success. I say this because I can’t think of anything hugely significant about the PS4 that would result in the lead it has…..besides the hype.

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