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Sony follows the lonely path

posted on July 1st, 2008 by jay
Now Playing: Rondo of Swords

The new PS3 commercial shows a handful of games set to what sounds like a clip from a Gladiator or Braveheart type movie. A warrior with a middle ages accent (ye olde accent) rallies his comrades before a glorious battle. To Sony this console business is a battle, and a bloody $3 billion one so far.

Only declaring war openly and drawing lines in the sand is not what Sony needs to do now. The call for brotherhood in the commercial clearly creates an us-versus-them image but it is this exclusive mentality (remember, the PS3 is like a fine dining experience) that put Sony in third place this generation. Launching at $600 and offering the bleeding edge of movie playing capabilities did not make the PS3 a very accessible machine and these advertisements only reinforce the idea that if I am not hardcore, if I am not willing to join Sony is a vicious battle against its enemies, then the PS3 is not for me.

Compare this spot to Nintendo’s campaign. They are slightly old now but the ads featuring two unassuming Japanese men driving around and offering the Wii to everyone struck the opposite tone. The Wii is inclusive and everyone, not just hardcore gamers, should play it. The cute tiny white box design and $250 price point enforced this idea, to say nothing of Wii Sports.

Perhaps Sony is being too honest in its commercial; the PS3 is for gamers and tech savvy people, right? Sort of. Sony still makes products like Sing Star and the Eye Toy in an attempt to capture the mass appeal of the PS2. And Little Big Planet is surely aimed at expanding the console’s userbase, which is ironic since it’s featured in this exclusionary spot (maybe I missed a multiplayer angle to the commercial, but if I did then it’s a bad sign for the general population).

My bet is this commercial will be directly at odds with Sony of E3. Today we see an ad declaring that our band of brothers must fight valiantly together against the enemy and in two weeks we will see announcements for the Sonar, Sony’s new motion controller designed to appeal to mom, dad and the dog.

*7/2/08 Update:
I ignorantly missed that the speech comes from Shakespeare’s Henry V. Unfortunately, this only further demonstrates that Sony is content on following the same losing strategy. Arrogance has always been a pillar of their games division and nothing has changed.

To get a better idea of Sony’s hubris, try reciting MLK’s “I have a dream speech” over these images of games. Or simply listen to the words spoken. Will this day be remembered until the end of the world? Seems unlikely.

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22 Comments

  1. Christian said on July 1, 2008:

    Interesting take on the commercial, one that I did not consider.

    Now that you mention it, the war cry is quite silly, as it does not mesh will with all of those games. My original opinion on the ad, as a recent PS3 convert, was that it was conveying a message of “hey, PS3 owners get a lot of shit, but you’ve been loyal and stuck through and now you’ve got some great stuff on the horizon”. That might be part of the intent, but certainly not the main thing on their minds, now that I see it a little differently.

    Depending on what we see at E3, Sony’s biggest goal should be squashing the sense that many gamers have that their two consoles have no good games, which is a garbage statement, especially on the PSP.

  2. Wesley said on July 1, 2008:

    Many have fought valiantly and died in the battlefields of messageboards across the internet to bring you these games today! Enjoy your feast of Gran Turismo and Metal Gear, loyal peasants, for many a Wii60 thread and IGN comments section lies slain on the battlefield so that you may have them.

  3. Sinecure305 said on July 1, 2008:

    I agree with Christian “My original opinion on the ad, as a recent PS3 convert, was that it was conveying a message of “hey, PS3 owners get a lot of shit, but you’ve been loyal and stuck through and now you’ve got some great stuff on the horizon”. M$ had last year Wii needed to shine now & been doing well with the casual market. But what I love so much about the SONY market is that we are loyal,older,have & open mind & we know what we want & SONY tries really hard to give that to us & lost $3.B doing it!!
    We didn’t hate on 360 or wii, we need more games… Is just Sony’s turn know don’t hate!!….LOL

  4. ironic said on July 1, 2008:

    The “clip” you mentioned is the very famous “St. Crispin’s Day” speech from Shakespeare’s Henry V.
    And every game they showed (even Metal Gear 4) has a multiplayer aspect to it.

  5. jay said on July 1, 2008:

    Ironic, I thought that might be the connection but it’s a bit tenuous. Are all those games cooperatively multiplayer? I am not the gold standard or anything but I think if someone running a gaming site doesn’t immediately understand the angle then they seriously need to rethink the way they’re delivering the message.

    Multiplayer or not I think it still delivers a decisive message. Christian, how you interpreted it is still very exclusive. It is “you there, you stuck with us and so here is your reward,” and not “This is great, everyone come and get their prize!”

    And thanks for calling where the speech was modified from, ironic.

  6. BrushedTeeth said on July 1, 2008:

    That was a pretty fun, but obviously fake video.

  7. alexi said on July 1, 2008:

    lol nice one Wesley! that’s gonna be my myspace quote. lmao

  8. Wesley said on July 1, 2008:

    “But what I love so much about the SONY market is that we are loyal,older,have & open mind & we know what we want & SONY tries really hard to give that to us & lost $3.B doing it!!”

    Sony lost $3 billion because they wanted to push a storage medium and placed it in a much higher priority than having a successful GAME console. How many PS3 sales are because it’s the cheapest Bluray player on the market?

    As for giving the fans what they want, I’m pretty sure the things that made the PS1 & PS2 popular were quirky Japanese games, JRPG’s, and Grand Theft Auto. Now that’s all in abundance on 360, and Sony is trying to grab some of the 360’s demographic by pumping boatloads of cash into gritty first person shooters.

    tl;dr version: it’s bizarro world this generation.

  9. bruce said on July 1, 2008:

    I thought the thrust of the ad was exclusive games, as the three I saw (GT5, LittleBigPlanet, and MGS4) are all platform exclusives. In that regard I saw it as kind of pathetic, essentially saying ‘OMG DON’T YOU WANT TO PLAY THESE THREE GAMES!?!?’ and the supposedly inspirational speech was nonsensical in that regard.

    It’s really just more of the typical disjointed advertising I’ve come to expect regarding this platform, but at least they’re FINALLY focusing on actual games as they should have been doing all along instead of a bunch of ‘lifestyle’ bullshit.

  10. Rashad said on July 1, 2008:

    You’re looking way too much into it – I think you just don’t get the Henry V reference.

  11. jay said on July 1, 2008:

    I already admitted I had not realized the reference. But what changes because of where the speech came from? Is it a literary pun I am missing?

    Unless there’s something deeper at work here, the speech was delivered to an army to rile them up before war, whether Shakespeare or Tretton wrote it.

  12. deez said on July 1, 2008:

    Yeah henry the V. Guess the name videoLAMER is correct. Anyone who watched Tombstone would know this immmediately! And anyone who hasn’t watched Tombstone is LAME!!!!

    Doc Holiday Lives!

  13. Wesley said on July 1, 2008:

    lol pwned

  14. Christian said on July 1, 2008:

    That hurts Deez. I’ll do my best to catch up on my westerns.

    Thanks for the comments everyone. They are genuinely appreciated.

  15. DJ said on July 1, 2008:

    This is a tired article. PS3 is cheaper overall than the 360 so at this point buy one if you like the games. Personally my favorite games this generation are on the PS3. Uncharted & Ratchet.

  16. Golden Jew said on July 2, 2008:

    I’m surprised Sony was as ballsy as to put a speech from a great literary work in a mainstream advertisement. Don’t they know kids don’t read anymore? In fact, they play video games instead of reading. But perhaps that disconnect with their audience is why they lost $3B so far this generation… or perhaps they’re just hoping that their target demographic will be wow’d by the visual aspect of the ad.

  17. jay said on July 2, 2008:

    Console warriors would find it tired, DJ.

  18. Stefan said on July 2, 2008:

    I have to say, this is ballsy to an almost extreme degree. To compare the console war to Agincourt and the hundred year’s war? What, is the PS3 the longbow that will fell ten thousand French knights? Will I be able to walk into a bar in my old age and be hailed by name as one who fought the “console war”? Will those of you who don’t have a PS3 all really “hold your manhoods cheap” whenever I speak? Or is it possible that this advertisement is over-reaching by just a tad, and that no matter how awesome little big planet is going to be it simply will not result in a slaughter of tens of thousands of men, start the downfall of an entire caste of society, and capture Paris and with it the crown of France?

    And because as our dear Golden Jew pointed out kids don’t read anymore, the original speech that this references is as follows:

    “This day is called the feast of Crispian:
    He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
    Will stand a tip-toe when the day is named,
    And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
    He that shall live this day, and see old age,
    Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
    And say ‘To-morrow is Saint Crispian:’
    Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars.
    And say ‘These wounds I had on Crispin’s day.’
    Old men forget: yet all shall be forgot,
    But he’ll remember with advantages
    What feats he did that day: then shall our names.
    Familiar in his mouth as household words
    Harry the king, Bedford and Exeter,
    Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester,
    Be in their flowing cups freshly remember’d.
    This story shall the good man teach his son;
    And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
    From this day to the ending of the world,
    But we in it shall be remember’d;
    We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
    For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
    Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
    This day shall gentle his condition:
    And gentlemen in England now a-bed
    Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
    And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
    That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day”

  19. Christian said on July 2, 2008:

    Stefan – yes to all of your questions.

  20. Stefan said on July 2, 2008:

    Splendid, my place in history is assured!

    Watch out, France! Here I come!

  21. Wesley said on July 2, 2008:

    It’s obviously an allegory.

    Crispian = Firmware Update 2.40
    “sheds his blood” = Red-Ringed 360
    Manhoods = Uncharted’s Graphics

    I can’t believe someone who’s shown as much literary knowledge as Stefan wouldn’t pick up on this.

  22. Christian said on July 2, 2008:

    now make something up and call it a thesis.

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