A Potentially Perfect Partnership

11/5/2012 1:24:11 AM

Anyone who avidly follows gaming news has probably been witnessing the slow, yet unexpected collapse of Sony's video game entertainment sector over the past few years. This has come as a surprise to most, considering that the consumer tech company dominated the gaming market years ago with its ever popular Playstation and Playstation 2 consoles. The recent generation of consoles has Sony struggling, not only in their transition to the Playstation 3 but in all facets of video games. But why has the company fallen so far from grace, and what can they do to climb back up to the top spot?

Description: Could a Partnership Solve Everyone’s Problems?

Could a Partnership Solve Everyone’s Problems?

Sony's Gaming Downfall

To be honest, it wasn't just one key battle that caused the company to lose so much ground in the interactive entertainment department, but rather a slew of poor decisions that has ultimately led to their intense profit loss. The first and possibly the most damaging slip up happened during the release of the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360. When Microsoft walked into the next generation with their upgraded Xbox system, the world was surprised by the intense overhaul that the console had received for the new age, with its powerful hardware and incredibly user-friendly dashboard. This prompted Sony to re-evaluate what they were bringing to the table. Developers at the company were unsatisfied with the marginal lead that their hardware would have over the competition and as a result they scrapped their initial release. This pushed back Sony's release approximately one year, allowing Microsoft's Xbox 360 to be on the market for quite some time before it had any real competitors.

The problem wasn't just the fact that Sony took longer to release its console. The extra labor hours, on top of all the hardware overkill that was invested into the system caused a pricing nightmare that began to plague the company and in turn, the market.

A solid 600.00 USD price point was required for Sony to make any profit off its device, and although many dedicated fans were willing to shell out almost double the Xbox 360's cost for Sony's creation, it really turned off a lot of consumers. It's one thing to pay a little more for a worthwhile product, but 300.00 USD extra is enough to make gamers question the value of such a device. Sure, the Playstation 3 was far superior to the Xbox 360, but its internal hardware was leaps and bounds past what normal game developers were creating.

This lapse in release also caused quite a big headache for some of Playstation's dedicated developers. Square Enix, Rockstar, Konami, and Capcom all grew tired of waiting to release their titles to a system that was seemingly in limbo. That meant hit titles like Final Fantasy, Grand Theft Auto, Silent Hill, and Devil May Cry, were no longer exclusive to Playstation and developers began taking their business to Sony's biggest rival, Microsoft. That may not seem like a big deal to most, but a lot speculate that the reason that gamers were so divided between systems was due to exclusive releases. Without their plethora of dedicated developers, Sony lost their mass appeal as the gaming system with most triple A titles.

Recently, the company made another monumental mistake with the release of their PS Vita hand-held system. Analysts suggest that Sony was looking to recover some of the losses they suffered during this generation of video games by competing in a market that is usually dominated by Nintendo. However, developers couldn't foresee that the hand-held market would almost slide into obscurity, and that their shiny new PS Vita would lose millions of dollars.

Because of all this, Sony has been struggling to make it in a field that they once easily dominated. Worse yet, Microsoft seems to be constantly gaining ground and coming out with innovative features like the Kinect and the new Smart Glass application. If Sony has any hopes of crawling out of this hole they're in, they may want to consider seeking out help from a powerful entity in consumer electronics. Someone who has dealt with Microsoft before and understands what it takes to create "the next big thing."

Would Apple Be Interested?

Apple definitely has the manpower and funding to make a potential partnership with Sony into a huge profit gain, but would either company be willing to come together? From Sony's standpoint, a partnership with Apple makes a ton of sense. Sony and Apple are already actively working together to create camera parts for Apple's new iPhone 5, so they already have a working relationship. Not to mention that Sony could use all of the "tips and tricks" that Apple currently has to offer against Microsoft's ever expanding mobile and console combination. With the new Smart Glass app working hand in hand with all of Microsoft's tablets and mobile devices, Sony is going to be hard pressed to match them when it comes to pure innovation in the next generation. Because of this, it might really benefit Sony to team up with a powerful force that is already well established in the mobile computing and cellular phone marketplaces.

Description: Sony and Apple are already actively working together to topple what Microsoft has established in the past few years?

Sony and Apple are already actively working together to topple what Microsoft has established in the past few years?

Unfortunately though for Sony, I'm not sure that Apple would welcome them with open arms. Apple CEO Tim Cook has already expressed to the public that he has "no intentions of entering the traditional console gaming market." But could a potential team up with a ''gaming giant" be enough to persuade Apple to wade into the next console wars? Perhaps, and the fact that it's Sony might even appeal to them more. There have already been speculations that Nintendo would benefit from a partnership with Apple, and while Sony and Nintendo are always finding the best way to create innovative tools and electronics, I still feel that Sony brings a lot more to the table and has a lot more to potentially offer Apple.

But even if Apple decided to jump into an agreement with Sony, what exactly could both companies hope to create in order to topple what Microsoft has established in the past few years?

Could Sony And Apple End Microsoft's Dominance?

I don't see any reason that Sony and Apple couldn't rise up to put a significant dent in Microsoft's current run, and to be honest both companies have a lot to bring to the table. Apple has been steadily gaining ground in the world of touch devices, including tablet PCs, mobile phones, and other consumer peripherals. In fact, they even have some experience when it comes to the world of gaming, considering there are so many iOS games and titles currently available on the Apple App Store. The tech company has also created the Apple TV Box, which supports the ever nifty Air Play function. This allows you to play games from your iPad, right on your television screen, and more and more developers are integrating this feature into their products.

Description: Could Sony And Apple End Microsoft's Dominance?

Could Sony And Apple End Microsoft's Dominance?

If you pair Apples innovations with the leaps that Sony has made in the gaming industry, the result is a very lucrative environment that would breed innovation and a next generation mindset. Imagine if Apple banded together with these gaming gurus to create a real competitor to Microsoft's new Smart Glass application, or if they collaborated to create an at-home console that worked seamlessly with all of Apple's iOS devices. This would allow users to control certain aspects of their games, movies, and television shows via their tablet, or mobile phone. Or even go as far as creating a system that not only plays console games, but also allows for Air Play capabilities, creating a tool that lets you enjoy all of your favorite video game and iOS titles in one centralized area.

It's not just good for you the consumer either, it's probably the best thing that could happen to Microsoft, in a very twisted sort of way.

Competition Breeds Innovation

I've said it before, and I'll say it again, competition is perhaps the best thing that could happen in the world of ever evolving consumer technology. Whenever two companies are struggling for dominance, we as consumers benefit. Prices are slashed, products are better, and new, innovative technologies come out faster. Take for example the ever raging battle between Microsoft and Apple. We've seen many different upgrades to each company's OS platforms, as well as a variety of unique and user-friendly tablet and smartphone devices, all of which were bred from a need to '"dominate" the consumer electronics sector.

This used to be the case within gaming too, where companies battled for supremacy, landing as many exclusive contracts as possible with developers. But no longer are fights raging, or companies struggling to create the "next best thing." Ever since Nintendo and Sony started to lose mass amounts of profit,

Microsoft has been steadily climbing the ladder of success, making it that much easier for them to rule over everyone else when it comes to console gaming.

This has created an unwanted sense of comfort for Microsoft and it threatens to stall out the video game market. If Microsoft is uncontested in the next generation, they will have the freedom to do whatever they wish with the interactive entertainment sector. They will have the ability to slack off when it comes to creating quality consoles and products, and they could begin to charge whatever prices they wish for gaming products. True gamers will pay these prices, regardless, to enjoy their favorite titles. For that reason, we need Sony to climb back and to bring the fight once more. The bigger the competition between the three major players (Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo) the better it is for the gaming community and for consumer electronics in general.

Description: Competition Breeds Innovation?

Competition Breeds Innovation?

This is just one more reason that it might really benefit Apple and Sony to band together, in order to create some tension for Microsoft, who is seemingly sitting in a very relaxed position atop the totem pole right now. Unfortunately, it seems highly unlikely to me that Apple would actually be willing to throw their hat into the gaming race, but I have hopes that an agreement with Sony would give them the necessary mindset and tools to really shake things up. I'm actually quite hopeful that this is more than just "dust in the wind" and I would love to see something solidify when it comes to a partnership. Here's hoping that some of the department heads are reading this, and that they realize that combining forces might be the best thing that could happen for all of us.

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