Should Sony Have Focused More On PS3 Sequels Than Originals?


Posted June 26, 2009 - By Stephen Johnson

Sony PlayStation 3

Like most of you who post on our website, video game industry analyst Matt Matthews has some opinions on what Sony did wrong with the PlayStation 3. But unlike most of the people who post on our website, Matthews has actual numbers and, charts and graphs to back up his assertions.

Leaving aside the hardware aspects of the console, Matthews took a close examination of the sales figures for PlayStation 3 exclusive software.  Matthews feels that Sony might have sold more games if it had focused more on sequels and less on developing original property.

For example, Sony partner Insomniac created launch title Resistance: Fall of Man as opposed to releasing another Ratchet and Clank game, and Evolution Studios made Motorstorm instead of another World Rally Championship game.

 As Matthews puts it:

The pattern is clear: instead of relying on established properties these key Sony partners were granted the opportunity to create completely new, top-tier franchises for the PlayStation 3. These were games the competition could never have, ones exclusively owned by Sony.

It seems obvious that Sony intended these new games to be system-sellers for the PlayStation 3, but, judging from their numbers, it didn't really happen. If you compare the sales numbers of original PS3 games with the sales of sequels like Grand Theft Auto IV, and Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, you'll find that, yes, those sequels sold much better than original games.

In the short term, it's true, sequels will generally sell better than original games -- people like to know what they're getting into with a video game so they stick to familiar names. But as a long-term strategy, I think Sony has (finally) gotten it together.

Sure, new properties are risky, but so are franchises. The problem with putting all your resources into sequels is that, eventually, the franchises will run out of steam. The faster you make new versions of old games, the faster they start to seem like just that: Old games with new boxes. When a franchise is wrung dry by a game company, people will stop buying it, and then you've turned a once valuable intellectual property into something worthless, and have not developed anything new to take its place. You need to put resources into original games, even when they don't work out (Lair), because eventually, you're going to find something that does (inFamous.)

Also, a preponderance of sequels for the PlayStation 3 wouldn't really fit the marketing of the machine as the newest, most shiny, powerful system. If the PS3 had launched with a new Ratchet and Clank instead of Resistance, and a full slate of other familiar games, it wouldn't have seem very exciting to the core audience Sony was trying to reach with the system. 

It seems to me that the slate of PS3 games available now, in the middle of the console cycle, is a nice mix of original titles (Uncharted, LittleBigPlanet, InFamous, etc) and sequels (Madden, GTA, Metal Gear).

What do you think about the PlayStation 3's mix of originals vs. sequels?


Should Sony Have Focused More On PS3 Sequels Than Originals?


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