Sony, Microsoft, and the Living Room

E3

Paul Miller for The Verge:

The battle for the living room in 2006 was fought over Blu-ray and HD-DVD, and Sony won. Then there were streaming services, and Sony won that too. The PS3 is now the world’s defacto Blu-ray player, the number one Netflix device, it has NFL games (if you can afford them), a mature video service, and supports your 3D TV. But after decades of ruling the living room, Sony seems to be having trouble seeing what the next step is.

John’s line was that we live “80% of our lives outside the home,” as an excuse for Sony pinning its hopes to the Vita, the PlayStation Mobile platform, and Xperia phones. But most of us have already figured out how to keep ourselves entertained outside the home — here’s a hint: it doesn’t involve Sony products — and now we’re ready to bring those experiences back to the living room. 2012’s definition of home entertainment is “integration,” not exclusivity.

Despite being utterly bereft of Internet access, Paul’s article provides remarkably cutting insight into the ongoing conflict for living room dominance. Highlighting E3’s increasing tendency to pander toward the media market, Paul embosses the disparate methodologies of the gaming giants, ultimately showing Microsoft to have adopted the best strategy.

Having watched each of the three keynotes, I enjoyed Sony’s — particularly Jack Tretton’s easy going demeanor — but I found the vast majority of the presentation to move far too slowly. Lacking any truly revolutionary announcements for the product line, Mr. Tretton’s speech stood in stark contrast to the multi-faceted, high-profile, media-centric Microsoft keynote from earlier in the day.

As I’ve written many times in the past, Microsoft is doing a great many things very well, and I’m certainly excited to watch its progress in the coming months. With far-reaching rebranding, Windows 8, Smart Glass, a renewed push for Windows Phone, and all manner of further surprises, I tend to think that 2012 is shaping up to be an endlessly exciting year for the Redmond-based company.

Perhaps that’s somewhat against the grain, but I’m an enormous proponent of healthy competition. In this instance, for the first time in decades, it’s Microsoft that’s offering the most compelling, innovative movements outside of Apple.

WSJ: Sony Rejected Download-Only Next-Generation Console

PSX

Ian Sherr and Daisuke Wakabayashi:

Sony Corp. considered but ultimately rejected a download-only scheme for its next videogame console, people familiar with the matter said, opting to include optical disk drives rather than break with a decades-old model in the industry.

[…] Sony is targeting a 2013 release for the successor of its PlayStation 3 console, people familiar with the matter said.

As much as I’d love for the future wave of consoles to be online-only, such a decision would utterly undercut the presence of any forthcoming PlayStation in enormous marketplaces across the world.

Although many urban centers are gaining increasingly fast connections, such locales are far outnumbered by debilitatingly slow connection counterparts. Given Sony’s already established relationship with Blu-Ray for game distribution, developers would likely come up against a regression in terms of compression and breadth of content.

Thus, for the immediate future — particularly if the console is slated for a 2013 release — Sony’s decision is framed well within the bounds of reason. On the other hand, as is evidenced by the current crop of home consoles, such devices are designed to remain present on the market for years longer than their predecessors. Accordingly, for the sake of future-proofing the console, I’d suggest that Sony should not entirely abandon such an online-centric plan, nor cut it out of their forthcoming console. Rather, optical discs should be kept as a means for sustaining the relevance of such a console in non-broadband equipped locations, and an Internet-centric model should be used for the optional transportation of games and media.

Sony need not build toward an all-Internet solution, but should certainly not abandon such a strategy altogether. The key to the video gaming market will lie somewhere in the middleground — preying upon the tenets of ubiquitous access, media versatility, and robust capabilities for entertainment consumption in both the digital and physical realms.