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Forums - Sony Discussion - Who is Sony's main threat/competitor today?


Who is Sony's main threat/competitor today?

Microsoft 17 19.10%
Nintendo 30 33.71%
A new Player (Google, Nvi... 6 6.74%
Sony 36 40.45%

In 1994, with the looming release of the Sony Playstation and the SNES approaching the peak of its success with the launch of games like FFVI, Donkey Kong Country, the continued success of big games like Super Mario Kart, Super Mario All-Stars, Street Fighter II: World Warrior, The Legend of Zelda: A link to the Past, Megaman X and then the upcoming release of Donkey Kong Country 2, Yoshi's Island and Chrono Trigger, as well as big portable games like Link's awakening, Super Mario Land 3, Dr Mario, Super Mario Land 2, Tetris, and of course the upcoming Pokemon games, it was no doubt that Sony's main competitor for market share was either Sega or Nintendo, but most would agree that Nintendo was the winner of the Genesis/SNES era from a market share perspective and from a 3rd party partnership perspective, despite bitter feelings harboured towards Nintendo by many 3rd parties.


Capitalizing on the frustration of certain 3rd parties, and pushing the more "adult" (teen) market that Sega was targeting, Sony was able to gain huge territory in the console market, bringing to its side companies which were near 2nd party status with Nintendo, such as esp. Squaresoft (which did not release any games on a Sega system as of 1987), and to a lesser extent Capcom and Konami, and many others. In that generation, Nintendo was able to hold its ground in the US and Canada with the N64, and across the world with the Gameboy, but everywhere else in the world (also thanks to pirating and more European type games like car and sports sims) most reoriented their home console needs towards the Playstation, with Sega struggling with high prices and low dev support due to a difficult to develop for Saturn.

Only one gen later, with the Xbox coming, Nintendo tried one last push in competition with Sony in the more teen-driven arcade market and with Microsoft entering the race, it was quick that Nintendo decided to turn to other sources of market share and exit the head-to-head race with Sony in a market Nintendo was losing strength in. As of the middle of the gamecube gen, Nintendo was no longer seen as the main competitor in the home console space, with Microsoft going head-to-head with Sony, especially in the PS360 era when Microsoft wanted equal 3rd-party support for almost all non 1st & 2nd-party games. Sega had run the course with the Dreamcast, launching a number of great fighting and RPG games, but was not able to gain enough market share against the tough competition.

As Sony fought to keep its hold on the home console space during the time of the PS3, they decided to cease diluting their efforts between the home and portable consoles and dedicate all their efforts to the PS3, which happened shortly after the launch of the Vita. In the process, Sony eventually stopped their handheld line and in essence lost their market share in the portable console race to Nintendo, which had managed to maintain its dominance due to its sales powerhouses such as Pokemon and other 1st party games like New Super Mario Bros, and by securing certain crucial 3rd party games such as Monster Hunter and Dragon Quest which are big in Japan.


With the release of the PS4, Sony reestablished its dominance on the home console space regaining the ground it had lost to Microsoft during the time of the X360. With Microsoft now becoming more cross-platform, and its games being available elsewhere than on the Xbox, and with a limited amount of 1st party content, and now with the ensured success of the Nintendo Switch especially in Japan, the question becomes: who is Sony's main competition today? Most would argue that Microsoft is Sony's direct competition due to competing with similar content and hardware. Others would say that, in the history of things, it seems like Nintendo has been hiding behind that facade and slowly retaking ground in the portable console space and now in the home console space, esp. in Japan. While during the Wii era Nintendo was competing primarily on another plane and targeting a non-gamer audience, with the Switch Nintendo is gaining popularity with gamers. Perhaps Sony's main competition will be a new player such as Google with the new Titanium. Perhaps Sony's main threat is themselves, in how they manage their own console launches, libraries, console versions, streaming services, online platforms and OS, or their relationships with 3rd parties.

One thing is clear:

  • Sony won the first war on the home console front against Nintendo and Sega.
  • Sony lost on the portable front to Nintendo.
  • Sony lost ground on the home console front to Microsoft and won it back, but could lose it again depending on how they and MS handle things.
  • Sony's efforts are currently entirely focused on the home console space, but are also experimenting with games as a service (streaming) with Playstation Now.
  • Sony has not thrown themselves on new technologies and often prefer to follow proven trails (e.g. the Playstation Move was a late answer to the Wii, disks are still the primary means of distribution, streaming services are not fully deployed as the single source of delivery)
  • There seem to be relatively new players ready to join the battle (Google, Nvidia, Valve, EA, Apple).

I wrote this piece after reading this rumor thread on a new Google console. I hope you found it interesting, and the poll is there for you to share what you're leaning towards.

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PC and/or a new player is their biggest threat. But they are not as big of threats as many people make them out to be. PC might bring Sony down to 85 million lifetime sales of a PS5 or PS6, but that's about it. Sure, there will be a slow trickle of kids growing up that make the PC their main platform, but the PC is slowly getting worse as time goes on. There are more and more storefronts these days. Windows 11 will likely be $10 to $20 a month to rent, with no way of outright buying a permanent license. As the west continues to decline western consumers will have less buying power than ever, (especially in the USA) making a costly PC a luxury that many can't afford. As India and China rise to the rank of 1st world countries, they will have consumers who will want to play AAA games, and the cheapest entry to that is a console.

Many people think that iPhones and streaming will do the same thing to consoles as they did to portables. But this idea has several flaws. First off the 3DS had a poor launch lineup, and was ridiculously overpriced at $250 for a tiny OG model. If NIntendo had just launched the 3DS with a 2DS XL model for $180 then the 3DS would have reached 90 million lifetime sales easily. The Vita was just a terrible handheld, with almost no exclusives, no backwards compatibility, and proprietary memory. It was Sony's Wii U, and sold poorly more due to being bad, than to having lost to iPhones/Tablets. The original DS was the PS2 of handhelds, and nobody should have expected 150 million lifetime sales to continue forever. Had Sony fully supported the Vita, and had Nintendo launched with a 2DS Xl, then the handheld market would be doing fine to this day.

But anyway, my point is that iPhones/Tablets are not as big a threat to consoles as people think, because they didn't exactly cause the downfall of the portable market. At least not by themselves.

The infrastructure for Streaming just isn't there, and probably won't get there for another decade.

IMO PC/iPhones/Streaming will not really threaten Sony. They will just take the marketshare that was previously held by the XB1. Gaming as a whole has grown since the start of this generation. Xbox sales have been nearly cut in half this gen. But you see Sony selling only 20-30% more PS4s than they did PS3s. So where did the rest of that growth go? Where did most of those Xbox consumers go? Well, they went to PC, and smart devices.

Edit: Consoles have grown more YoY than PC/Smartphones. 

Last edited by Cerebralbore101 - on 10 March 2019

Microsoft because of PC and Xbox.

Don't see Nintendo as competition because they seem to have a different target group.

Nvidia as a technological competitor since their they're trying to move more gaming enthusiasts into their ecosystem
Steam steals their marketshares as 3rd party software distribution platform.
Nintendo as an indirect competitor since, while it's true a Switch and a PS4 can coexist in the same living room, the more time and money a customer spends on different platform the less time and money is spent on yours.
Microsoft can become a big threat if they really manage to really pull off their "netflix" game streaming service.

I mean, in terms of hardware it has to be Nintendo as of now. Nintendo has a home console hybrid competing for living room space same as Sony and Microsoft. So to say "oh no, I put them in a different pool" is quite blind. The age group that buys the Switch the most is comparable to the age group that purchases the PS4. Sony and Nintendo's and even Microsoft's goal is to appeal to all ages so they all have the same target demographic. There was a study that came out that I can't remember at this time that gave percentages of those who own a PS4 and Switch in the US. There's obviously overlap so they do compete for our dollar.

In terms of parity, no question it's Xbox and PC. And by that I mean, around the same target specs, and the most prevalent question: PS or Xbox. But even as Sony has pointed out on a competitive level, they can't ignore the Switch and Nintendo, while they and now Nintendo are smoking the Xbox One. Overall, I say Nintendo, especially now since Sony is losing their grasp on Japan (Yes, I know PS4 is going to outsell PS3 in Japan and displays console growth) but they're no Nintendo over there whilst Xbox is non existent there.

The future is changing quickly so who knows, maybe Google might be Sony's #1 software and hardware competitor...the industry is about to change and quite soon.

Last edited by Ljink96 - on 10 March 2019

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It's gonna be Apple..

Sony is the only one able to screw Sony.

Only Sony can threaten Sony. Nintendo hasn't been competing directly with Sony anymore, with the Wii, Wii U, and now Switch all being unconventional consoles offering fundamentally different experiences that what is offered by PlayStation (and Xbox). The only reason the 360 did as well as it did was because of Sony's blunders with the PS3, "Five Hundred Ninety Nine U.S. Dollars!" being the biggest contributor. Assuming Sony doesn't screw anything up, there's no way Xbox can touch PlayStation globally, though the two can be competitive in the U.S.


In accordance to the VGC forum rules, §8.5, I hereby exercise my right to demand to be left alone regarding the subject of the effects of the pandemic on video game sales (i.e., "COVID bump").

Microsoft: some might scratch their head at this since X1's sales pale in comparison to PS4's but they're not just XBox but PC as well.

Very enjoyable post. One thing I'd like to mention is that Sony did enter one very experimental area with VR which I'm very proud of them about.

As far as direct competition, to me it's plainly microsoft. As a budget gamer, If I go on to eBay to buy a console, to play xyz multiplat: I can get a PS4 Slim with it's exclusives and massive support, or I can buy a sexy white Xbox One S at half the price. Obviously it's discounted because it isn't selling well. And I say sexy because I like my consoles looking like a storm trooper. But nothing else on the market competes with PS4 on the mass scale. Only PC has the multiplatform games.. but it's going to cost way more than a $150 used system.

Other companies like to fake to news and investors about plans to enter the console wars, they generally to get off the ground. Only microsoft has been able to actually enter and that's because they're microsoft. Plus, MS can get up the next round and go again. People like to say that it's impossible for them to hit a home run but that's totally not true. It can happen. Not saying it's going to, but it can.