It’s no secret that companies affiliated with video games want to extend the reach of their consoles. It’s not a bad idea either. Be a gamer’s one stop shop for all of their media needs and they’ll never leave their console’s side. They’ll use your handhelds and mobile applications and whatever the hell else you invent to help access their devices as best as it lets them.
Microsoft has been pitching the Xbox One as its “all in one” device pretty much since the reveal of its next-gen gaming machine. Meanwhile Sony has been all too happy to emphasise its dedication to games. But look close enough — and consider the latest reveal of the Vita TV — and you’ll see they have similar intentions. They want you using the PS4. They want your attention just as much as any company trying to sell new hardware should.
Here’s Kotaku reader Raiju’s explanation on how Sony is attempting to woo you into their carefully constructed entertainment world:
Sony’s Attempt to “Win” Your Entertainment World
While Microsoft has publicly been trying to win the living room for years, Sony has started an a far subtler attempt to win almost everything you do with entertainment media. It truly began with PS3/PSP remote play, but this generation they’re bringing out the big guns with PS4/Vita remote play and the recently announced Vita TV.
Why the Vita TV is a great move
Sony’s Attempt to “Win” Your Entertainment World Vita TV is an attempt to get consumers to buy into an entire ecosystem. Once you own one Sony game device, you gain greater benefits from choosing further Sony game devices rather than competing devices. And Vita TV is an extremely attractively priced console. It’s a great entry level console for casual gamers, a perfect replacement or complement for grandma’s Wii, or a gift for children whose parents aren’t quite ready to shell out for $300-500 consoles or a $200 handheld.
Furthermore, the games for the Vita TV are relatively low priced, with older PS1 and PSP titles being as little as $5 and even brand new Vita games still coming in cheaper than new Wii U, PS3, or 360 titles.
Marketed correctly, this is a console that could very well sell like hotcakes all by itself.
But there’s really more to it than that. It’s not only marketed to casuals and those without a console. It’s also there to lure in current Sony customers. Just like a PS4 owner will be tempted to get a Vita for the remote play possibilities, a Vita TV adds value to a PS4 or, to a lesser extent, Vita for a relatively cheap price tag. A person who owns a PS4 is likely to buy a Vita TV instead of an Apple TV or Roku. They get all the benefits of that device, a cheap console, and the ability to play their PS4 games on two different TVs without having to move the PS4 around the home. A Vita owner gains the ability to play co-op or head to head against a player on the Vita TV, the ability to play some of their portable games on the television, and the ability to stream videos (and possibly games) from their Vita to the television.
Sony’s paid online service is another example of how Sony is concentrating on offering products that are useful on their own, but add more value the more Sony products that you own. Playstation Plus gives you plenty of benefits with a single device: “free” games, extra features, online play (as of the PS4 going forward), and early bird access to some betas, DLC, and demos.
Add that to two devices, and you’re getting twice as many “free” games in addition to early access to more content. If they allow a third device with the advent of the Vita TV, you can share the ability to play online multiplayer among all your devices with a single PS+ account. The value of the product goes up while the price remains the same.
How remote play fits in
The more devices Sony includes in this ecosystem, the more attractive it becomes. The Vita TV and PS4 combo is tempting all by itself, but the whole package of Vita, Vita TV, and PS4 is when the advantages they’re trying to sell you really shine through.
Sony is giving you a way to access their games and apps from any TV in your house, without hassle (one hopes). But they’re also letting you take all of that on the road in the form of the Vita. From the handheld, you get even more Vita games and the ability to play your PS4 games away from from the TV so long as you have WiFi access. Whether it’s your bathroom break or lunch break at work, they’re trying to cover all your entertainment needs.
All you have to do is give Sony all your money. And it won’t even seem like much, because each component of the ecosystem is pretty competitively priced by itself. But if you want one of each, you’ll be shelling out $700 before games. Add in PS+, and you’re looking at a yearly fee of $50 (or a little less, if you’re a savvy shopper). And if you have more than two TVs and want additional Vita TVs, or extra Vitas for the kids? Well, let’s just say that a Skylanders addiction is starting to look cheap in comparison.
What it means for the future
If this ploy is successful, expect to see this sort of interconnectivity in other Sony devices. Your Sony laptop might be able to interact with your PS4, Vita, or Vita TV in new and interesting ways. Your Sony smart TV might be able to stream video or even games from your PS4 or Vita. Who knows, we might even see the revival of the Playstation phone, with the ability to play games from your PSN library and interface with your other Sony brand devices. This could grow far beyond just game devices, touching every entertainment device in your home.
While it’s unlikely that any one manufacturer will ever truly “win” your home, this multipronged attack seems like it’s got the potential to come much closer than previous attempts. Gamers and consumers today have multiple televisions. They want to play their games in bed, on the couch, in the bathroom, and on the bus. They are multiple gamers living together in one home, passing the hobby from one generation to the next. A single device under a single TV, no matter how fully featured, is never going to “win” at everything the modern consumer does. But maybe a multitude of interconnected devices could.