The Genius of Sony’s Game Marketing

Over the past 4 years, the words “Sony needs to advertise better” have been shouted on podcasts, by industry “analysts,” and of course by the throngs of gamers who think they pinpointed Sony’s problem.

While everyone is entitled to their own opinion, only several privileged people get to work behind the curtains for the prestigious electronics maker. And while everyone thinks they know what Sony should do, there’s only a handful of people who could and do lose their jobs based on their decisions and actions.

So what makes thousands of gamers more qualified to discern what Sony’s marketing push for the PlayStation 3 brand and all of its exclusive games is?

Nothing…in fact, people in general should think more before speaking. It’s easy to point and claim you know what to do when there is no pressure, but the real crux of the argument is that while you are sitting on your soapbox buying games, Sony is raking in the cash because the business model for the Playstation 3 brand is just now starting to pan out.

Word of mouth is one of the most convincing and powerful forms of advertising. The best part…it’s free. It is also one of the most subtle ways to address the general public because it can not be controlled, directed, or manipulated by one specific entity or person. It varies depending on consumer experience, brand awareness, product quality, and many other factors that are derived from a company’s track record and general public appeal.

It is surprising then, that so many gamers and analysts would speak before thinking clearly. Every time you speak or write the words “Sony” or “Playstation 3” you’re doing them a favor, so why should they spend buckets of money buying exclusives, making huge marketing campaigns, or throwing lavish parties when they already have your attention?

Sony’s products speak volumes and in the case of the Playstation 3, that is 50 GBs….and some times more. Blu Ray has become the dominant format in this market. The Playstation 3’s price and free online are drawing many people fed up with online fees. The sheer amount of quality exclusives the Playstation 3 has is unrivaled despite the amounts of money spent on exclusivity by competition.

Sony’s formula is quite simple. Tactical spending + brand awareness + word of mouth = success. Just look at the buzz that both Killzone 2 and now Heavy Rain have generated with a mere beta, a demo, or viral marketing which probably costs maybe a few thousands to run. The name “Sony” is synonymous with quality and that is one of the reason that viral marketing and word of mouth have worked so well.

Every podcast, every gaming site, people on Facebook, Twitter, Google Buzz, and other social sites are all lauding Heavy Rain for its fresh approach and rich story buttressed by the enigmatic cast of characters. For those that own a PS3, it comes as no shock and for the many others that know of Sony’s excellent gaming history, it generates excitement and nostalgia. While these feelings don’t necessarily transfer into immediate sales, it does induce consumer faith. Eventually when consumers are faced with the decision of buying a console, they will have not only the opinions of their peers to consider, but now they have their own feelings and general knowledge of Sony’s products as incentive to buy the PS3. Ask your friends why they are buying a system? An exclusive game? Free online? Blu Ray? Maybe they saw it on a commercial but chances are they heard it via some type of social media.

All those people saying “Sony needs to market better” are playing their part in Sony’s master plan–they just do not realize it yet. But with the console gap shrinking, one has to wonder who has spent their money more wisely? Some say “money talks.” The truth is people talk and that seems to be what Sony is banking on.

  • Good article, L1T1GAT0R.

    The last line makes tons of sense as well. By someone saying on a Podcast “Sony needs to market better” they are saying that the system and/or the games ROCK, and that people need to know about it through better commercials and advertisements.

    Nobody says that a shitty product needs to be advertised better, but when it’s something that you think everyone needs to experience, you will be upset that it isn’t getting the recognition it deserves. Just like an awesome indie movie or record!

    Good shit, bro.

  • Good article Lit, although I will say that Simon you are wrong………I don’t why, you just are. But anyways, my beliefs are, that–when Sony released the PS3, they probably figured, “hey its us boys, we are Sony, we are PlayStation–we will sell just like our PS2 did. ” Little did they know that the game had changed since the PS2 prime era. So now, Sony was like “whoa, WTF did we just &%$$** do?” Ok plan B, lets start following what is working right now, or at the moment IE “360”. Ok so let’s do it better than they are. And till today they are staying on top of the game, but now taking it a different direction, which is working.

  • bigmangriff

    This atricle is fantasic. I really don’t think truer words have been spoken. Viral Marketting and Word Of Mouth work wonders.

  • orbilator

    Desz, I think your wrong. Sony never expected to have monstrous sales with ps3 from the outset. I think if you look at the growth curve of ps2 and ps3 there aint to much difference.
    Sony has always said they have a long term plan, and now its starting to pan out. Sony has always taken a leap in technology with there consoles, and even though some say blu-ray was stupid, most developers are now just starting to see how limited dvd is for high def gaming.
    Sony’s marketing has always been clever, for example some of there adds have been abysmal, but just remember you were all saying wasn’t that new playstation add rubbish! And as this article has said you only complain the add was rubbish never the playstatio.

    • Jeff Rubenstein is that you??

  • I think Sony should market this way….

    Lol j/k. Pretty Sexy tho

  • ProjectVRD

    Sorry Desz but I think you are quite a bit off mate.

    If you compare the sales of PS2 and PS3, first 3 years of each ofcourse, there is almost no difference at all.

    Playstation 3 has always outsold is main rival since it’s launch, and this is despite the minimal advertising vs. their rivals non-stop advertising, despite the high price tag vs. their main rivals lower price tage and despite the initial awful media reception vs. their rival non-stop media praise.

    It appears that when it comes to hardcore console gaming the hardcore console world still looks to one brand and one brand alone and that is Playstation. The 360 appears to have saturated it’s own market now, I read a report that stated if estimated figures of RROD is true then the true number of fully operating Xbox 360’s is around 20M comapred to PS3’s 29M.

    This ofcourse was back when PS3 hadn’t sold 30M yet. I was one of those who said they should be advertising more, but I now think they have done it right since learning that month on month since launch the PS3 has outsold the 360.

    Well done Sony, although let’s be honest, even if they are doing it the right way… one measly little PS3 only advert will not hurt will it? I mean, an advert that quickly advertises all the features?! If the casual’s heard about the “3D Facebook” the rest of us know as Playstation Home then ****ing hell!!!!!!! Imagine the interest that would be stoked!!

    • good points Project. I still think, they adapted as time progressed. But you are right, it does very well seem as if it was all plotted. And either way, I love the PS3, and it’s funny you bring up the red ring situation, because that is what made me and possible many change exclusively to PS3.