With Sony struggling along in third place behind Nintendo and Microsoft in the current generation of console wars, drastic action was needed. While Sony has certainly delivered in that respect today by announcing a new smaller, cheaper Playstation 3 as well as an on-device movie store for Europe (bringing it into line with America) it’s missed a major trick by ignoring the power of social media.
Back in June, Microsoft announced that their Xbox 360 would soon be integrated with Facebook, Twitter and Last.fm. The upgrade, expected soon, will see Xbox-ers able to tweet, interact with Facebook and listen to Last.fm streaming radio direct from dedicated apps on the console. Throw in the wide range of apps that have been built using the Xbox Live API and you’ve got a formidable social eco-system built around Microsoft’s console.
The Playstation 3 offers nothing of the sort. The only social element to PS3 gaming is via the Playstation Network but that data can’t be exported or used in third party apps. Why can’t I send messages to my Facebook wall when I get a new trophy on Facebook? Why can’t I have a gadget on my iGoogle page that shows when my friends are using their PS3s so I can challenge them to Ryu versus Ken grudgematches in Street Fighter IV?
In April, Sony Computer Entertainment America’s Randy Nelson hinted that social media integration may be coming to the Playstation 3 “Quicker than some may think”. Sony quickly issued a denial that any such plans were immediately in the works.
For Sony to miss out on a widely social dimension to Playstation 3 gaming would be a great shame. The marketing benefit of having gamers interacting with their online social networks from their consoles is significant too. Microsoft’s willingness to innovate, embracing social media and Netflix movie streaming, is one of the reasons that they are ahead of Sony in the console wars.
Games will always be the most important aspect of a console, but it’s the extras that create an ‘experience’ around console ownership. In that respect, Sony has a lot of catching up to do.