PlayStation is currently celebrating its 20th anniversary as a brand. Internationally, it has gotten a ton of attention and is doing extremely well. But how are things going in South Africa? Mighty well, and way better than it did back in the day.
I had a quick interview with Ster-Kinekor Entertainment CEO Mario Dos Santos regarding the anniversary. He explained to me that PlayStation wasn’t always an easy gamble.
When we first launched locally 18 years ago, we brought in 3 000 units. We were actually worried and wondering if we would need to send some back. Those first six months, we wondered if it would work out.
Back then, it was something of an underground culture to own a PlayStation console in South Africa. Only hard core gamers used them. Of course, things changed with the PS2. Dos Santos explains that with the social elements included with the PlayStation 2, it led to huge sales of the console – that there seemed to be one in every home. The PlayStation 2 was far and away the most successful console to date.
Unfortunately for the brand, the PlayStation 3 could not replicate that success. While in the end it did well, it had a rather rough start. Pricing issues surrounding proprietary technology means that it was expensive for the local consumer. But things are turning around with the PlayStation 4.
The PS4 is beyond the 50 000 sell through point. This is line with where the PlayStation 2 was at the same point in the life cycle.
50k units sold through to our market isn’t too shabby, especially with PlayStation only reducing prices recently. I’ll be curious to see how the PlayStation numbers compare with competitors following the holiday season.
I did ask Dos Santos about that glorious 20th anniversary PS4 console. There aren’t any coming locally for retail, but that doesn’t mean that none will be entering the country. 50 units will be making their way to our shores – mostly for charitable and promotional events. I will definitely be keeping an eye out for these to let you know when we might be able to grab one, and for a good cause.
Going forward, PlayStation is looking to expand the brand and do more to interact with the local market. They are planning a variety of local initiatives, primarily with local developers. PlayStation hopes to see more South African indie games appearing on the PS4 and across the PlayStation ecosystem.
Of course, I also asked that burning question we all have – why are digital games so expensive? Why don’t they compare to retail prices and why is the store offering not at the same level as international version? Unfortunately, I didn’t get a helpful answer. According to Ster-Kinekor Entertainment’s CEO, the local distributors have zero control over the Sony online experience. Sony Computer Entertainment sets the prices, and despite having frequent meetings with them to try to adjust according to our local market, it appears that all pricing decisions are made centrally. That doesn’t helps us and feels a bit like passing the buck, but at least we know that PlayStation South Africa aren’t the people to nag about it – we should pester Sony Computer Entertainment Europe directly instead.
Last Updated: December 12, 2014