When the PlayStation 4 gives way to its successor console later this year, it’s going to end a generation of gaming on the highest note possible. Between games such as Resogun, InFAMOUS: Second Son and Knack, through to recent tour de force experiences such as The Last of Us Part 2, God of War and Ghost of Tsushima, its been a hell of a run for Sony’s black box of wonder.
The funny thing is, I’ve got close to zero adoration for the console that came before it, the PlayStation 3. Aside from its third-party offerings, I can barely remember the games that Sony positioned as system-sellers back when the Xbox 360 was handing the company a proper beating in the sales charts every week.
To their credit, Sony knew exactly what they had to do to claw back their way back into the spotlight, as the PS4 was an enduring and powerful 180 spin that left the competition in the dust. For a while, it was almost the final console that Sony would produce. In a new documentary called The PlayStation Revolution, Sony Interactive Entertainment’s former director for strategic content, Shahid Ahmad, detailed how Sony’s PlayStation division transformed from a “hubristic” organisation into the “humble, passionate and excited” company that launched the PS4 console.
“PS3 was many things to many different people,” Ahmad said in the film via VGC.
It was definitely a difficult period, because a lot of work had to be done to turn around the technical deficit and the monetary deficit created by the launch of this extraordinary piece of hardware. Because it was an extraordinary piece of hardware, but it was also extraordinarily difficult to get the best out of. And people did, and it did eventually turn into a success. but my god was that a war of attrition.
The PlayStation that emerged at the end of PS3 was a much more gritty, determined, focused entity – and I’m not saying this from a personal perspective, but from a corporate perspective – than the much more hubristic organisation at the beginning of the PS3 era. I think even we were surprised by just how rapturous the reception was for PS4, because it was a kind of redemption as well. We’d been through the fire with PS3 and now everything was on the line.
We had to get this right and if we didn’t, it could’ve been the end.
According to Ahmad, the PlayStation 4’s recipe for success wasn’t just the stellar hardware under the hood, but an attitude shift that saw the brand become more humble and even more focused on positioning itself as a product that put gamers first. “What we didn’t expect was that it would be such an incredible success, beyond our wildest dreams,” Ahmad explained.
But it was the tone with which we communicated the whole thing: ‘this is 4 the players’. The entire focus of launch was around players. You remember the hubris from the PS3 years? Contrast that with the honesty and self-deprecation of the PS4 launch period, and you can see that the organisation had become transformed to people who were now humble, passionate and excited about this new thing. Battle-worn, but ready to serve again.
That attitude and spirit all began with the first PlayStation.
He’s not wrong! The PlayStation 4 has consistently delivered on its message of being a fun hub for new gaming experiences. It’s likely a message that’ll continue well into the 2020s, as the brand doubles down on the strength of its first-party exclusives that so far includes a new Spider-Man game, a second Horizon chapter and much more.
Last Updated: August 3, 2020