What They Do Right: Sony

I’ve got some gripes with every company in the game industry. Of course, I am probably more vocal about what I don’t like than what I do like most of the time, but that isn’t to say that I don’t love each and every company in the industry for many different reasons. So what I’m doing is starting a new series called “What They Do Right”, and every so often, I’m going to profile a different company and really let you know what I think they’re really awesome at doing. And I’d like to begin with a company that probably doesn’t get as much love as it deserves from us: Sony.

Now, Sony is obviously one of the big three in the gaming industry, but they put to use their knowledge of tons of other industries – computing, cameras, television, etc. – to make some really smart moves in the industry. And that’s my first point:

1) Sony puts everything they’ve got into their devices. No, literally.

So it’s no secret that the PlayStation 3 has a ton of technology in it. The cell processor, Blu Ray, massive hard drives, rumble AND Sixaxis control in their controller, not to mention their Move controllers, Playstation Eye, and the memory card slots that came on the original PS3s. Well, let’s look at their latest tech. Holy crap is there a lot of stuff in the PS Vita. This thing is quite literally the device I would dream up if I could choose any specs and put them into a portable gaming device. So here goes:

  • FIVE-inch screen – also, OLED – also, touchscreen (that’s three points in one right there)
  • Dual analog sticks
  • Quad-core CPU & Quad-core graphics processor
  • Bluetooth, WiFi-n, and 3G (the latter being optional)
  • 512MB RAM (the same as in the XBOX 360; double the PS3’s memory!)
  • Rear-touch pad
  • Dual cameras: front and back

With a spec list like that, it’s really easy to think that the PS Vita would be easily $500 plus. However, they’ve got the price set at $249/$299, which puts it right inline with the 3DS launch price, but this thing has far more features for the buck, and it is more than worth the extra spend. The battery life is on par with the 3DS as well, and with this many features, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Vita as a developer’s dream since virtually any type of game could be made for it. Good job, Sony – this one is looking great.

2) Licenses, licenses, licenses.

Not get completely caught up in the specs, the launch titles for the Vita are absolutely phenomenal: Uncharted, Wipeout, and ModNation Racers: Road Trip are all on that list. Launch titles usually tend to be pretty lame, if you ask me, but this is an unusually incredible list and should certainly help Sony grab its foothold with the PS Vita.

Sure, you could say that Microsoft has its Halos and Nintendo its Marios and Zeldas. But Sony’s got a massive stable of incredibly hardcore games that could effectively make the jump to a hardware platform like the Vita. I’m just not sure Nintendo can make a hardcore title from their current crop of characters and stories. And of course, that’s just their portable story. In the next few months, we’ve got games like Twisted Metal and Starhawk coming to the PS3 – both of which are highly-anticipated not to mention that they would also make fantastic portable games.

And, maybe if I pray enough, The Last Guardian will make an appearance.

3) Network issues.

So you might think this is a bad thing, right? Well, it wasn’t Sony’s fault that the PSN got hacked last year. But the way they handled it is still being talked about in business schools because it is the way that things are supposed to be done. They acknowledged and apologized about the delay at their 2011 E3 press conference, and never talked about it again. People know what happened, they realize that Sony did everything they could to fix it, and we’ve forgotten about it. That’s some powerful management running the company. And it’s clearly working, because Kazuo Hirai, the President of Sony’s consumer devices division has been appointed to be President and CEO of Sony Corporation as a whole.

4) Awesome integration.

Sony’s got a great advantage in that they’ve been in the hardware design space for so long that they can, every once in a while, merge a couple of their industries to not only create a great product, but to drive adoption of new technologies. That’s exactly what they’ve done with the PlayStation 3D Display. They haven’t just branded a display with PlayStation and thrown it at the market, they’ve made it affordable, bundled it with a game, and added in some new technology called SimulView that lets two players use the whole screen in the middle of split-screen gameplay. Stuff like this is what drives adoption of 3D technology and gaming, just like the PlayStation 3 was likely the cause of Blu Ray’s success and dominance over the long-gone HD-DVD now.

There’s also great bonuses like PlayStation Plus which is actually a more than worthwhile service to join considering all the freebies and discounts you get on DLC and even full games. And speaking of integration, the fact that I can play the same game on my PS Vita as on my PS3 and compete inter-console like that is pretty slick. Sony has this integration thing down, and they’re clearly just getting started with all that you can do with it.

So that’s what Sony does really well. I’ve got my gripes with them also, but all in all, they’re one of the big three for a reason, and there is no ignoring them in the marketplace. If Microsoft is poised to announce their next Xbox at E3, you better believe Sony is listening, but that doesn’t mean they’ll be forced into releasing their next console early. They’re a huge player, and they’re here to stay.