Friday, October 18, 2013

Friday Thought: How Sony can sell indies to the great buying public

As most of us already know, gaming has a problem. As another big studio (2K Marin) closes, we'll likely see a couple more small studios emerge from the grim chaos. They join the herd of smaller and indie studios, and those using crowd-funding to develop new games and ideas, perhaps netting the Vita a new game or two.

The trouble is, if you walk into a game store, or a supermarket, mall or whatever, all of that vibrant activity, the imagination, the revolutionary ideas all remain completely invisible. If you look at a shop's Vita rack, you might see eight games and maybe an edge-on row of second-hand titles. That's not going to interest any casual buyer. Even if you look on Amazon (UK at any rate) the Vita apparently has five games coming out for it in the next 90 days... you'd think the format was already dead, there are more Dreamcast games coming out this year!

Sony has a few months until the Vita 2000 and TV hits western shelves (I'm sticking to my two-year anniversary date of 24 February or around then, unless these sudden £139 deals are a fire sale before the new models blow in before Christmas, in which case stick with the Penguins) to figure out a way to enlighten the masses. How would you do that?

Here's my plan... Don't by clever, be Honest! I'd put out TV adverts throwing 50 titles in rapid fire succession at the viewer, I'd say "These awesome games are only available on the PlayStation Network Store. To access PSN you need a Vita/Vita TV, PS3 or PS4... these are available in the shops... buy one now!"

Sure you'd have to put an asterisk up for some non-exclusive games, but who looks at the small print? You could follow that up with tabloid newspaper adverts with a 100 screens across a spread... "100s of games, free or cheap with PlayStation Plus, only online" (more asterisks for subscription costs and so on). Do that long enough and hard enough, and people would get the idea that there's an ecosystem behind what they see on the shelves.

As the indie scene continues to explode, the Vita has a unique opportunity as an easy-to-develop for portable system with proper controls. It is perfect for short-bursts of gaming between home and office, when the big TV is being hogged, first thing in the morning or late at night. Have you seen Sony trying to sell any of that aspect to the real world?

Combine the two ideas and it could just help sell some handhelds. Personally, I've pretty much given up hope for Sony's marketing machine, trying to cling on to some broken demographic research and some clean-living lifestyle aesthetic. Sony will only be doing its job when there's a mainstream advert of someone playing while in the toilet! Any other ideas?

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