Right now Sony have a target on their back. Any slight lapse in security will continue to be immediately jumped upon, publicised and criticised. Not only this but they are popular and easy to blame when something goes wrong, just as Rockstar recently tried when consoles started melting whilst playing L.A. Noire.
The Xbox fanboys are loving it. Seeing Sony continue to falter adds to the strength of the argument behind Xbox Live over PSN and if ever ammunition was required in a debate, this has to be it. Sony’s name has been absolutely demolished by the hack (plus continued issues) and it is going to be a hard fight to win people back. Sure, the Welcome Back pack is pretty attractive and that may retain customers but in the short term anyone currently deciding on a console is surely going to opt for the 360, I would. Looking long term I’m sure sales will balance out but the killer will be for when the next generation of consoles come along. Unless we’re talking a long, long time then this may still be in people’s minds and could well be a major influence in deciding which console to purchase. If things don’t pick up soon, will there even be another Sony console?
Competition isn’t just healthy but it is essential. The rivalry and need to best their opposition pushes companies such as AMD & Intel, or of course Sony and Microsoft. With Sega long out of the picture, the only other rivals are PC, tablet / mobile and Nintendo. PC will always be there but isn’t a direct rival due to the costs of a gaming PC. The gaming experience is completely different for mobile devices and it unlikely to be a direct competitor, leaving Nintendo. Whilst the Wii and 3DS/DSi does produce enjoyable titles, the general market is significantly different. Unless the Move & Kinect really take off at a massive rate, which I can’t see happening, deciding between a Xbox or a Wii is a bit like deciding whether to have burritos or a salad. Both are very different flavours and you pick according to your taste.
The PSP brand may be the one to suffer the most considering that Android and iOS platforms are developing at a phenomenal rate and it is a safe bet that Nintendo will maintain a strong market share. However somehow the PSP seems to have rather eclipsed people’s attention in discussions over the PSN breach. A portable console might not have the same online demands as a main console so the PSN downtime hasn’t had such an impact. It surely can’t be ignored though.
As such if Sony continue to falter, sales struggle and their reputation is tarnish they may join Sega and hang up their boots. This would be a potential disaster for gamers as there would be no rival to push Microsoft. Whilst Sony have been receiving a LOT of criticism of late, Microsoft are hardly the saints of the digital world and can we really see them pushing boundaries with no one on their tail? Just look at how they dawdled with Windows and let Apple catch up and overtake!
I certainly don’t think that Sony deserve more lives or second chances, but as gamers we want, or need, a rival for Microsoft. Who knows, maybe Sony will come back stronger? They’ll certainly appreciate the need for better security and if they can really hit us with the “wow” factor all may be forgiven. Alternatively Apple might even surprise us with a console with even stricter conformancy rules than ever before. Wouldn’t that be fun?
Note: On a personal note (as there’s likely to be bias in my posting) I have a PS3, PSP and 360 plus a gaming PC. When it came to deciding what to pre-order Duke for (my most anticipated game), the PC got the nod.