The Past, Present And Future Of PlayStation In Australia

The Past, Present And Future Of PlayStation In Australia

The PlayStation 4’s global turnaround in terms of sales, branding and strategy has been dramatic. The PlayStation 3 was the console that “only did everything”. The PlayStation 4 is “for the players”. What was behind this change? And how has it affected the bottom line for Sony in Australia? We spoke to Michael Ephraim, Managing Director for Sony Computer Entertainment Australia about the past, present and future of PlayStation.

“I was surprised in a way,” says Ephraim, discussing the PlayStation’s successful global launch, “but the PlayStation brand has been a strong one for a very long time.

“Globally it’s shattered our forecasts for the fiscal year, the PlayStation 4 has sold 7 million instead of the 5 million we expected.”

It’s a far cry from the launch of the PlayStation 3 — a console that struggled to gain traction in its early years, and only gained significant ground over its competitors towards the end of its lifespan. You’d never call the PlayStation 3 a failure in any sense, but it was hardly a match for the completely dominant PlayStation 1 and PlayStation 2. It wouldn’t be unfair to say that, last time, the Xbox 360 was marketed (and seen) as more of a core gamer’s console. The PlayStation 3’s story was a different one: it was a box that did “everything”. Fast forward to 2014 and the Xbox is the ‘Xbox One’, marketed as the only device we need to navigate the brave new multimedia world. The PlayStation 4 is ‘for the gamers’. Both machines are markedly similar in a lot of ways, but the messaging — until recently — has been different.

According to Ephraim, it’s the result of a dramatically altered commercial landscape.

“When the PlayStation 3 came out we were probably the most sophisticated and diversified box out there,” he says. “We could do everything and there was nothing like it. We had to talk about that.

“But now multi-purpose boxes are a plenty — the PlayStation 4 still delivers great non-game content like catch up TV, video, music — but our core essence is gaming and we went back to that core. We still have all the other content, but the environment has changed the competition has changed. Games now differentiate the PlayStation over any other multimedia entertainment box.”

And that focus, believe Ephraim, has allowed Sony to garner subtle competitive advantages in terms of exclusive content. He is currently speaking from a Destiny Beta launch event, a Beta which lasts longer on the PlayStation 4. A Beta for a video game that has timed exclusive content on PlayStation.

“I’m sure they appreciate that we’re focused on the gaming side.

“But I think install base helps a lot,” he laughs. “If you have a bigger market share that helps!

“PlayStation has always had good relationships with third parties. PlayStation 1 we had exclusives with third parties — Tomb Raider was exclusive. Everything was exclusive. As the market diversified that changed, but we’ve had great relationships for years. They know us and they know we can deliver.”

The PlayStation has exceeded internal expectations, claims Ephraim, and as a result expectations going forward have shifted. He won’t give a number, but says that the way things are going, the PlayStation 4 will continue to sell above and beyond what was previously estimated.

“It’s a moving market and forecasting is a difficult thing, but up to this year we’re ahead of our forecasts. That’s something we assess every month, But at the rate we’re selling now we think we’ll definitely meet our future targets and there’s a good possibility we’ll exceed them.”


    • Xbox one has realized this too and are making a lot of 180’s back to it being more like the 360…..which is could IMO.

      p.s. loving the new achievement snap feature, why couldn’t they just got it right in the first place?

    • At this stage yes, if the xbone can make the huge turn around like the PS3 did is still to be seen. The difference is that the PS3 wasn’t lacking in power it was just so difficult, hence why it had early performance issues, hampering sales. The xbone isn’t as difficult to create for it just seems to be generally slightly behind. At best I would say that it will be a parity situation

  • So no news on when and how stuff like gaikai will work in Australia with our inherently poor internet? Just news that they’re doing better than expected and they’re still doing stuff for the gamers and the posibility of more (timed) exclusives in the future?

    • You have to understand that they won’t announce something until they’re ready to. Have to pick your battles, have to pick your questions. But definitely understand your sentiment.

      • Is it frustrating to ask about Australia-specific information and only getting global numbers and plans in response?
        There’s a disappointing lack of mention about what is actually going on in this market.

    • Definitely getting a vibe he wasn’t authorized to lay down any truth bombs. Everything was very polite, very amiable. Laid off the, “THIS IS AN OPPORTUNITY FOR A SALES PITCH, GO!” attitude I was expecting, but didn’t get much meatier than just a generally agreeable and modest acknowledgement of some notable success, and spreading the credit around very broadly.

      Very polite. Very agreeable.

    • Rumor (other news articles) say aus gakai will drop july 2015 because of servers and such to be organised.

      If sony wants it to be cost effective then they will run it from singapore.

      But im hoping for something local to aus.

      The 500kbyte/per secdownload demand is pushing it for australia though.. :/

  • speaking of which. Got an email that said “choose how to play” for Destiny. Even through Australia had a “launch party” hosted by Sony i’m only given the choice of “the americas” or “europe” so i’m honestly just siting on it, wondering if another option is yet to appear :S should i just choose americas? ughh

    • As far as releases/pricing goes, we’re ‘Europe’ apparently. Nothing to stop you from setting yourself as US, but apparently once your PSN account is set to a region, that’s where you live. So if you sign up to US Destiny with an EU(Australian) PSN account, you might need to create a new US PSN account and sign into it separately.

      Kinda waiting from some of the more avid PS4 TAYbies here to try out the combos and see what’s what.

      • yeah wow :S even more reluctant. Don’t have a neogaf account personally, don’t know who to ask at this stage :S

        • Pop into TAY (Talk Amongst Yourselves) and ask about, someone might be able to give you some examples on how to best wrangle the logistics. I think there’s quite a few keen to get started on the beta today.

          Edit: I don’t think there will be an ‘Australia’ option for anything PSN-related for the foreseeable future, so I’m pretty sure you shouldn’t be waiting up for it. As far as server-selection goes for ensuring reasonable latency, I’ve no idea about the difference between EU/US and if you are automatically assigned to ASEAN servers based on IP-detection, but pretty sure some of the guys playing in the Alpha might know.

  • PlayStation 1 we had exclusives with third parties — Tomb Raider was exclusive.

    Maybe my memory is getting dodgy now I’m getting a bit older, but I seem to recall Tomb Raider getting released on Sega Saturn as well as PS1?

    • Your memory is fine, IIRC it was actually initially developed on Saturn and PS1 development only really started when the writing was on the wall that the Saturn was a commercial failure.

  • Tomb Raider was on PSX, Saturn and PC.
    The PC version also got re-released as Tomb Raider Gold and had two more levels with Lara going to Atlantis to destroy a hatchery of Atlantens and to Egypt to collect a gpld cat idol or some shit from the tomb there.
    Exclusive my arse.

  • Now if only they would put the same stuff on our store that they put on the US one. Too much of this regional stuff-up going on. It’s plainly obvious that they don’t care about the Australian market.

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