Why is the PS4 so ahead of its rivals?

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Recently it was announced that the PS4 was the most high-selling console for the month of June. That made it two in a row for Sony’s console, after the Nintendo Switch came out on top for the month of April. Overall, the PS4 series of consoles has been outselling its competitors (Xbox One, Wii U and now the Switch) by almost double, which is quite impressive to say the least! It seems to be the only console out of the current generation capable of entering the top 10 in sales history, if it ever approaches the 65 million units sold of the Nintendo 3DS. And that’s a scenario that doesn’t seem so far fetched if you consider the fact that the PS4 has already sold 59.5 million units and is still going strong. Even the entrance of the Xbox One X doesn’t seem capable of putting a stop to the PS4’s continuous rise in numbers.

But what is it that has made so many gamers choose to put their money towards the PS4, rather than, say, the Xbox One? The technical capabilities of both machines are pretty much the same. If anything, we would say that the Xbox One line of consoles has the edge over the PS4 in this aspect, although by a slim margin. Also, the Xbox One offers backwards compatibility with Xbox 360 titles, and the monthly free games offered through their respective subscription services (Xbox Gold/Playstation Plus) are usually better for the Microsoft users.

So, how come players flock towards Sony’s console like pigeons to bread? A quick bit of analysis points to a few rather obvious reasons.

A strong marketing campaign

Back in the summer of 2013, all players and gaming enthusiasts the world over had their eyes focused on the E3 press conferences. This particular year would be more significant than others, since it would be the year that the eighth and current generation of consoles was to be announced. First to take the stage was Microsoft, who announced their powerful new machine was to be called Xbox One. They showed off the technical capabilities of this machine through some wonderful trailers and also spoke of some of its other features, like its voice functionality and its home and entertainment capabilities.

Then… they went on to shoot themselves in the foot! Saying things like “there will only be one copy of a game per console,” “the console will only operate when online,” or “there will be a 24-hour user authentication through the Kinect.” And their most grievous mistake was not showing enough of what gamers actually wanted: games. To top it all off, they announced that the price of this piece of hardware would be $499 USD.

Sony didn’t have to do much to steal the show. They showed off the PS4 itself, which they had so smartly been cryptic about for the previous months in order to build up the E3 presentation, then revealing a bunch of game trailers and finally saying that the price would be a whole $100 less than the Xbox One ($399 USD). It was no wonder that when launch season came for the two consoles, the Xbox was pretty much outsold two-to-one. This forced the Microsoft executives to rethink their decisions, lowering the price of their console and allowing for game-sharing, but the damage had been done.

The following video shows a Sony executive announcing things that were pretty much a given and being cheered due to Microsoft’s poor showing.

Nothing but games!

This goes back to the previous point, but for quite some time it seemed that Microsoft was appealing to the wrong crowd. They focused on showing off the Xbox One’s technical capabilities (home & media entertainment, voice and cloud functions, etc.), leaving out the most important aspect of what a gaming console is supposed to be about: the games themselves.

Sony took advantage of this weakness at both E3 2013 and 2015, which will be forever remembered by fans for the return of many titles that they never thought would see the light of day.

Strong exclusive titles

When comparing the game library of the PS4 to either of its competitors (Xbox One, Wii U/Switch), it’s obvious that the “alliances” that Sony has made with the developers of some of these titles has truly borne fruit for them. Before the console was even created, it’s been said that Marc Cerny (the man responsible for the PS4) went around asking the devs themselves what they wanted from a machine. He made their lives easier so that they in turn could deliver great content in bigger and better quantities.

The PS4 is the only place where a lot of titles such as Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, Horizon: Zero Dawn, Bloodborne, The Last Guardian, Nioh, and more are available to play. And that list will only continue to grow since there are more titles coming soon, like Days Gone, Detroit: Become Human, Final Fantasy VII Remake, God Of War, Gran Turismo Sport, The Last Of Us Part II, Spider-Man and Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, among others. All these are highly-acclaimed titles, with many fans behind them and each and every one of them is reason enough for anyone to want to purchase a PS4.

Bringing the East to the West

For a long time now there have been many titles and even franchises that never saw the light of day in the western world. Be it that the studios that developed them weren’t popular enough, or that the companies that made the games thought that they wouldn’t sell that well in this part of the world, a lot of great games were kept away from players. Yet, where there’s a will, there’s a way, and people usually found ways of getting their hands on them. Whether through fan translations or through ROMs, people did their best to be able to experience these games.

Sony noticed this, and ever since the launch of the PS4, a lot of titles that were exclusive to Japan or Asia have begun making their way to the rest of the world. This started with Final Fantasy Type-0, a game that many people were asking for for years with their pleas going entirely unanswered. Eventually the title was ported to PS4 with better graphics and was released on March 2014 as Final Fantasy Type-0 HD. Other titles or franchises that will make or have already made the leap to the west are the Monster Hunter series, Dragon Quest series, Danganronpa, Fate, Guilty Gear, Gundam, and others. As in the previous case, the list will only continue to grow.

Listening to what fans wanted

The previous case is one of many in which Sony put the desires of the fans over what they would’ve thought might be profitable. There have been other cases such as this, like when people said they thought the price of the PS4 was too high (so they released the PS4 Slim with a starting price of $299) or that they wanted a higher resolution for their games, which led to the eventual release of the PS4 Pro, which allows for 4K gaming.

Also, even though the PS4 is not backwards compatible, a lot of titles from previous generations of the PlayStation family have been ported or even remastered, as per the request of the fans, such as Crash Bandicoot N.Sane Trilogy, The Last Of Us Remastered, Grand Theft Auto V, Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD, Final Fantasy XII The Zodiac Age, Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection, or even smaller, older titles such as Duck Tales or Full Throttle.

A place where indie developers can flourish

The PS4 may have a lot of strong AAA titles, but in no way does that mean that there’s no place for independent developers to show their stuff as well! A lot of good, solid games created by smaller studios have been ported to the PS4, such as Rime, Journey, Super Meat Boy, Limbo, Bastion, Pyre, Fez, Gone Home and many, many more. If a game is worthwhile it most certainly will get its time in the spotlight with Sony.

Overall, the main reason for the success of the Sony console is the plethora of incredible games that cannot be found anywhere else. However, the company has been diligent with this success and they’re always willing to listen to what the fans want. And that, in the end, is why the PS4 seems to be the outright best place to play in this console generation.

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Alex Anifantis

Gamer from a young age, ever since my older sister introduced me to the worlds of Tetris and Super Mario. Self-proclaimed Final Fantasy fanatic, generally enjoy all JRPGs. The most important quality in a game to me is a good story.

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