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Forums - Sony Discussion - Has Sony made PlayStation "too Western"?

For the most part, PlayStation as a brand for the PS1 and PS2, was distinctly Japanese with many of its well known titles being third party games from Japanese developers, and a fair share of first party games were also Japanese such as the Ape Escape series and Team Ico games. This echoed the Japanese origins of the company behind it, Sony Computer Entertainment, Inc., which was headquartered within Sony's main Tokyo offices at the time. But starting with the PlayStation 3, things were changing. Microsoft helped revolutionize the market with its focus on Online services and Western AAA titles in the Xbox 360. With the PlayStation 3 struggling, Sony needed to combat it by moving PlayStation towards a more western focused direction. It started with SCE placing more focus on its western studios like Naughty Dog and Santa Monica. Then by bringing in Mark Cerny to architect what would be known as the PlayStation 4, and by making a bunch of deals with western third parties for exclusive content in multi-platform titles. This all culminated into Sony's decision to merge Sony Computer Entertainment and Sony Network Entertainment, into Sony Interactive Entertainment, and relocate the whole division to San Mateo, California, under the oversight of Sony Corporation of America.

The only thing that PlayStation has Japan related now, is the fact that they have a studio in Tokyo. I get Sony's need to make PlayStation more a more western-oriented brand in order to keep up with Microsoft, and in a lot of ways, that's a good thing. But do you think that Sony may have went too far in that direction? And if so, should Sony move SIE back to its original home in Tokyo?

Last edited by TheMisterManGuy - on 05 July 2019

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PlayStation has become more European over the years. Not a bad thing but they have clearly traveled far from there roots.

I feel you're overthinking this. I simply saw that the western market changed while Japan and Japanese focused games stayed much the same.

Around the 6th gen it seems that FPS games, western RPGs and other types of 3rd person action games really started to dominate the market. Many of the Japanese studios just weren't connecting with the changing market.

I'd say MS still had the impression Japanese centric games were very important when they bought exclusives from Japanese studios while funding projects like Lost Odyssey and Blue Dragon. After a few years though they gave up on the push for Japan and their specific style of games.

On PS3, PSP and Vita there was a big push of Japanese games from Sony. The market was fickle though, not many of those games did particularly well. What did thrive was Sony's western games. Sony might be a Japanese company but they weren't great at appealing to Japanese gamers with 1st party games per se.

Hence, Sony is simply focusing on the bigger market and more importantly the market that actually bought their games in droves. It wasn't really a response to MS in my opinion, they just leaned into their strength.

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I don't understand why it is Sony's fault that Japanese 3rd party devs haven't kept up with the industry outside specific IPs which sell decently.
Certainly the Team Ico citation feels bizarre given they in fact backed The Last Guardian even thru development hell which wasn't Sony's fault.
I think people just having hard time squaring present reality with historically built up expectations of Japanese gaming industry which was
really one specific historical moment when medium sized companies churned out relatively low budget games which suited hardware at time.
Since then they have had difficulty expanding scope, or conversely engaging lower end of things which Western indy devs adeptly do as well.
(ironically, engaging genres many associate with heyday of Japanese gaming, yet Japanese gaming corps are too stifled to give fresh take on)
And the exceptional successes really demonstrate broader point, as they tend to build around narrow mechanic or thematic IP like fetish.
I mean, there is market for that, but when that defines Japanese gaming then of course they have painted themselves into very limiting corner. The difference is when it was first being made that was just fun, state of the art gaming, not "ok we must narrow our expectations because Japan", I mean even more damning is they also mostly missed out on mobile gaming which is actually fully in line with limited scope/budget they prefer. But this is extension of bigger issue for Japanese, with similar dynamic re: broader technology and business expectations developed from 80's.

Last edited by mutantsushi - on 05 July 2019

Not really, EU and NA are the biggest markets so it makes sense to focus on them. Also Japan favours handheld systems, so that's another reason to focus more on western markets. The 3DS outsold the PS1 and PS2 in Japan.

Here's the percentage of sales that came from Japan for recent consoles:

PS3 - 11.9%
Wii - 12.5%
PS2 - 14.7%
Gamecube - 18.6%
DS - 21.3%
PSP - 24.7%
3DS - 32.9%
Vita - 36.7%

Last edited by Barkley - on 05 July 2019

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Seems like a logical marketing decision to move to the West. In Japan, they had strong competition from Nintendo, and the market over there can't really grow much anymore. In the West, especially in Europe, they had a lot of growth potential.

It's not like Sony had a real choice. They can't compete with Nintendo without a tremendous advantage in third party support, so they are forced to focus on the regions where they have a chance. Ceding Japan to Nintendo is financially more reasonable than engaging in an uphill battle they can't win. Microsoft realized the same thing after the first half of the Xbox 360's lifecycle.

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Japan gave up on traditional consoles, the West loves them. Sony are a business and will go where they will make tons of money.

Sony is actually quoted for saying they are catering to the european market.
It was in reguards to game developement.
Basically they survaded + looked at statsitics of what people here enjoyed, and try to deliver that.

People here on vgz call europe = sonyland, but how did it get that way? Sony actively worked for it.
Is Sony now more focused on europe/western market, than ever? probably.
Is it a bad thing? I dont think so, as long as we still get get some wacky fun japanese styled games too, theres no harm.

I'd love to see Sony try to do a jrpg thats AAA on the level of Final Fantasy though.
Maybe Sony should do a few jrpgs.

RolStoppable said:
It's not like Sony had a real choice. They can't compete with Nintendo without a tremendous advantage in third party support, so they are forced to focus on the regions where they have a chance. Ceding Japan to Nintendo is financially more reasonable than engaging in an uphill battle they can't win. Microsoft realized the same thing after the first half of the Xbox 360's lifecycle.

Plus I think US is actually more biased towards buying Xbox's, than Europe is towards buying Playstation.

This gen, if Xbox had done a fantastic job, but Sony had flopped all over (with games, and hardware, and policies) the way xbox did this gen, things would be dire for Playstation 4, even in europe.

Thus I dont think its wrong that Sony tries to focus their strengths to the region where they do best.
Its like their protecting their base, so that it stays healthy in future.