Hearsay and Conjecture: Evaluating Hype for PS4 Preorders
by Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)
Considering that Sony hasn’t even revealed what the PS4 will look like, early stories such as this one from NowGamer indicate that retail preorders are seeing “unprecedented demand.” That’s quite an early feather in the cap of Sony, being able to brag about people clamoring for their newest console after a brief reveal of the controller and some games. The bigger question is whether or not there’s some validity to the hype or if it’s just PR spin.
Here are the facts. The console is slated to hit stores sometime in the holiday season of 2013; presumably late October/early November since Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag hits October 29 and is advertised for the PS4. It will likely debut close to the time when the yet-to-be-announced-but-
The first is what it looks like. Sony didn’t show anything at their press conference that resembled the console. Sure, they showed a controller and–judging by its design–you can infer that the console will likely resemble it somewhat. There was no mention of dimensions though. Fans are flocking to order a console they’ve yet to even see, which is quite interesting.
The second bit of information is price. The retailer referenced in the above article has the price listed around $597 USD, putting it on pace to launch at a price point similar to that of the PS3. That’s a rather hefty price tag for a console that you’d be hard-pressed to argue gamers really “need.” Both the PS3 and XBox 360 are still churning out quality titles at a fairly reliable clip and the fact that this console generation is reaching into its eighth year is a sight to behold. Still though, there seems to be a number of people interested in the PS4, even at the speculatively high price tag.
Probably the biggest reason people are excited is because Sony actually laid out a very intriguing strategy at their show. The thought of always on is interesting and varies quite differently when it comes to consoles. It hasn’t been implied that the console “has” to be connected in order to play anything and if that does come out to be the case it could be damaging to the console’s prospects. In the case of PS4, being always on means you’ll always have access to your games (presumably through your Vita), friends will be able to jump in and help and watch and everything will be streamed.
Sony could also be ushering in a new age where more games are delivered via download as opposed to physical media. Both iOS and Android have proven that people are willing to pay for apps on their phones/tablets that are confined strictly to that device. That is, you can’t buy Angry Birds and trade it in down the road once you’re done; you’re stuck with it, for better or for worst. Maybe there’s some appeal in that for gamers as well, knowing that they can easily download the latest game if they want to and not have to deal with preorders, shipping or camping for a midnight launch.
It’s also possible that some of the preorders could be speculators. Let’s face it–one of the seedier aspects of console launches of the last generation was the eBay market that rapidly formed around it. Gamers took advantage of an extremely high demand and low supply, paying $600 for a PS3 at launch and then selling it for upwards of $2,000. If you’re a gamer and are willing to miss out on the early adopter hype, then that’s definitely your prerogative. There’s probably a small number of the PS4 preorders who are hoping to cash in, which depends entirely on how much people want the PS4 and how many are available at launch.
The fact that there is healthy demand for PS4 preorders is good news for Sony and could be good news for gamers as well. Sony is counting on the network effect of as many people as possible owning a PS4, as the more people that do the stronger their online presence is. It’s too early to tell if preorders this early will translate into success for Sony, as once price has been announced things could change dramatically. Still though, there seems to be enough people out there interested in another Killzone to merit preordering the PS4.