Sunday, May 9, 2010

How Sony won the last-gen, and how they'll probably win this gen: rebranding

This title has been in the drafts since December 17, so it's not all too familiar with my growing trend of getting partway through a draft, saving it for months on end and casually finishing it.

Ever since Sony announced the PS3 Slim, I had a slight inclination to buy one, purely out of the new design. I grew out of it, and never looked back; I still have my 1st-gen 60GB PS3 that can play my PS2 games (suck it, Sony). Another thing around that time was Sony had changed the way PS3 game's slipcovers look:

As you can see, Sony got rid of the Spider-Man font, and threw everything up top. Hell, they even started to brand which games were PS-only for the first time ever. But, there is a certain...allure to the rebranding here that makes it more appealing. It almost seems, dare I say, less threatening than the original?

My argument is simple: Sony's rebranding strategy - which they've implemented all throughout the PlayStation's life cycle, even the PSP - helps them out tremendously. I can't speak too much on the PSOne, as I never owned one up until coming across the original PS1 (not the smaller, white PSOne). The PS2 got the help of the PS2 Slim. When I say "help," I do not mean the PS2 was struggling against the Xbox and GameCube; it was leading the pack, and shitting on the competition. However, with a console redesign, Sony rebranded the PS2, slapping a picture of the system on the box, and went yellow with packaging. The PS2 Phat came in a very large, very blue box, with only "PS2" on the front. That was it. The Slim came in a much smaller - thanks to reorganizing how they packaged things in there - white box, with a corner yellowed-out to signify the slim nature of the system. Any accessory you came across in a white packaging with the yellow dog-ear fold indicated it was slim-compatible.

I'm not saying the dog-ear fold was the key successor to helping the PS2 get a much larger gap in the competition, but with a system redesign, people line up in hordes. Sony consoles and Nintendo handhelds are crack to the Japanese when they are re-released. How many units did Nintendo sell of the DS lite when it was released? It doesn't matter, because the amount could sink the entire archipelago.

There is the key difference that Sony has, and that is, of course, the Blu-ray capabilities. It's a very cheap, very diverse player in terms of capabilities, and for that, it's one of the best players out there, if not the best. Couple this with the rebranding and the charisma of Kevin Butler, VP of Everything, and Sony has a damned good chance of caching up with Microsoft.

Catching up with Nintendo? We'll see how they're doing in a few years...