A new revolution has begun. What started as a gimmick has now become the most anticipated accessory/peripheral in years. Of course, I’m talking about the re-birth of Virtual Reality. And Sony has placed themselves right in the middle of this revolution with their new and upcoming peripheral – PlayStation VR. The accessory looks promising and exciting to say the least. Immersing yourself in a virtual environment and discovering new worlds while not having to physically be there all sounds extremely addicting and exciting. PlayStation VR could be great but it faces a huge problem. Actually it faces a couple problems (price point included). But the main problem it faces is quite simple – marketing. When it comes down to it with PlayStation VR – Greatness Awaits or Failure is Inevitable? Plain and simple.
Through the years, Sony has had mixed success when it comes with their marketing campaigns on consoles and accessories. When successful, the company tends to hit it out of the park. Think about how successful the marketing campaign was for the PlayStation 4 when it was released in November 2013. So much positive energy was thrown into the marketing from Sony with commercials being nostalgic to the “Greatness Awaits” and “This is For The Players” marketing tag lines. They’re simple but hit home on what the PlayStation 4 is all about – games for gamers and how great they can be and will be.
Now re-wind to the release of the PlayStation 3. The marketing for the console was mixed. From the tagline stating “It Only Does Everything” (it did not support cross game chat) to the commercials with the Rubik’s Cube and the weird baby to the successful and hilarious Kevin Butler ads lead to a very confusing marketing strategy and it reflected as such when the PlayStation 3 console was released back in November 2006.
When the PSOne was first released its strategy was fantastic. The tagline, “U R Not E” could be taken as literally as well as figuratively. Not many taglines have that stature of meaning behind them. And it needed to be. As a company new to the industry at that time, they needed something to stand out. And the tagline along with their in your face and exciting commercials which were perfect for the 90’s were exactly what the public wanted to see.
And then of course there’s the marketing that has been down right ignored by the company to a certain extent. The marketing strategy of their handhelds specifically the PlayStation Vita and the PlayStation Portable (PSP) has been downright horrible. Starting off strong and on the right foot, commercials and appropriate ads were pretty prominent on television and gaming magazines. However, months following the release, any advertising on first party titles leading to opportunities to further promote the handheld console went by the waste side and eventually disappeared. For the die hard’s this was especially frustrating as both hand held systems are formidable yet not enough may have been known about them to the public due to the lack of marketing campaigns with the games released on the systems, to the actual systems themselves. It’s frustrating to see and puzzling as to why it happened not once, but twice.
Even accessories have been ignored. The PlayStation Move is an accessory that even some mainstream gamers haven’t even heard of. It’s a peripheral that was briefly used during the middle of the PlayStation 3’s life cycle when Nintendo had the world hypnotized by their motion tracking Wii console. It’s almost like PlayStation saw an opportunity to play along and wanted a piece of the pie as well. It hasn’t worked out at all and the PlayStation Move has been a failure for the most part with barely any kind of marketing strategy attached to the peripheral. But maybe they had better ideas at the time of release as it is being used with Sony’s upcoming peripheral which now brings us full circle – PlayStation VR.
Since the PlayStation VR utilizes the PlayStation Move, I will give that peripheral a pass for the moment since the utility may see it’s maximum potential with VR. However the problem with marketing PlayStation VR is the fact that you if you haven’t tried it, you aren’t going to know how good or bad it really is. You can say that argument stands with all video game consoles as well but chances are, you’ve played a video game console before if you are reading this article, and upon trying a new system you already have an idea what it’s all about, what games will be exclusive for it, etc. With the PlayStation VR, it’s not about the games, it’s about the experience. VR is a kind of experience that is very hard to describe and it cannot be determined if you like it or not by talking and describing it. Since the branding and peripheral is so new to the industry, it’s something that has to be tried out to fully understand if you are going to enjoy it or not. Which means, gamers will have to take a chance on if they want to try it out or not. And a large part of that determination may depend on Sony’s marketing campaign for the peripheral itself.
The PlayStation VR has the potential to be game changing. If it’s as great as a lot of people say it is, then Sony needs to find a way to market their product and avoid the failures of the PSP and PlayStation Vita’s marketing strategy. If they can overcome that and market it how the PlayStation 4’s strategy was done, they will be successful. It will be interesting to see what strategy they will come up with but the world will be watching closely and the success may very well depend on how it’s marketed to the public upon eventual release. Stay tuned. For more on PlayStation VR, stay tuned to Mammoth Gamers and be sure to follow us on Twitter @Mammoth_Gamers.