At Sony’s pre-Tokyo Game Show event yesterday, the Japanese behemoth made a number of announcements which outline the strategy for its Playstation brand.
On first glance, the big news items appear to be the PS4’s Japanese launch date of 22 February 2014 and the announcement of the revamped Vita, a lighter, thinner model which comes with one gigabyte of internal memory and an additional hour of battery life. However, it was the unveiling of the PS Vita TV which paints an intriguing picture of the company’s plans.
Enter PS Vita TV
A US$99 (US$150 with a packaged Dualshock 3 controller) device capable of playing Vita games and remote play to the PS4, the Vita TV is the lynchpin of Sony’s grand Playstation strategy. Skeptics scoffing at the idea of purchasing a console to play portable games on a TV are missing the point. The biggest selling point of the Vita TV is its ability to remotely stream games from a PS4 via a shared wi-fi network. With remote play, Vita TV owners will be able to play their PS4 games on any TV in the house, regardless of which room the PS4 is located. Imagine setting up the PS4 in your living room, then moving your gaming session to the comfort of the bedroom without shifting the console. It is the Vita TV’s function as an extender which turns Sony’s vision of an all-in-one entertainment ecosystem into reality. The fact that the low-cost system is capable of running PS One classics and streaming media via Netflix or Hulu is merely icing on the cake.
An Ecosystem for the Future
Between the PS4 and Vita TV, Sony could effectively position itself as an all-in-one home entertainment solution. By bringing all media options under the Playstation brand and providing flexibility in accessing it, Sony has just achieved what Apple and Microsoft have been trying to do for the past couple years. Add to that the power and portability of the Vita hardware, and gamers can bring that Sony ecosystem with them wherever they go.
A Delay with a Plan
Sony has traditionally enjoyed a position of dominance on its home turf of Japan, a position which largely extends to the rest of Asia. Aware of the advantage they possess, Sony opted to delay the launch of the PS4 till more titles tailored for the Japanese and Asian markets are ready to be launched alongside it. Taken on its own, the move could be seen as overly cautious. However, with the launch of the revamped Vita and Vita TV before the end of 2013, it appears that Sony is laying the groundwork for an interconnected Playstation experience.
It’s far too early to tell if Sony’s strategy will eventually pay off, but one thing is for sure: they have a plan.