Hearsay and Conjecture: Evaluating Hype for PS4 Preorders

ps4hype Separator

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-strongly-rumored  successor the XBox 360. Both consoles will feature very powerful computer  innards and the requisite libraries of games. The PS4 will rely heavily  (almost exclusively) on being online for gaming and the controller will  feature a smallish touch screen. That’s what gamers at this point know.  What they don’t know are two seemingly important bits of information.

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.


    3 Comments

  1. YordanMarch 14th, 2013 at 11:07 am

    I don’t understand why people are so focused on what it looks like. It could look like a giant turd for all I care, it’s the tech inside that counts. Crying that they didn’t SHOW it is stupid.

    Good article, though.

  2. JonathanMarch 14th, 2013 at 12:53 pm

    I think the issue is more that Sony plans to launch a console in roughly seven-eight months and they don’t have anything to show. It inadvertently says that it’s not ready, despite what was shown at the show to suggest otherwise. The tech inside does count, but there are some people who are worried about how it looks aesthetically alongside their other equipment.

  3. JayMarch 14th, 2013 at 3:09 pm

    I kinda agree Yordan its the Tech that matters but i hope its stylish and not a giant turd on my entertainment stand. What i really hope for is its more than just a hightech bluray player.

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