Sony has a tried and tested formula with the Sony Playstation, I will show why.
a) Sony has a lot of influence on the overall trends in the mainstream.
They own film studios, music studios, game studios and have a lot of extra money to market them. Sony actually have the power to tune people into certain forms of entertainment, and push the interest for them through marketing. In that sense, they have an edge.
b) Sony has marketing brand and cash power
Sony has always been a relevant brand, even from before the Playstation. Who doesn't remember the walkman, Sony TVs or stereo tape players? The SONY brand has been in the psyche of consumers for a long time, and the company has been able to position themselves in the favors of people for a long time. They also have the cash to push big marketing campaigns like they do during sporting events. This kind of marketing and brand power is what helps them sell games in the area of sports and simulation (like Gran Turismo). Their brand is also not limited to Video Games, and if Sony is in a market, it is because they plan on winning in it. If they are losing money, they get out. This gives them a sense of reliability that a competitor like Nintendo might not enjoy in the home console market. Nintendo has had sure-fire hits with the portables, but not with the home consoles.
c) Sony is strong in 3rd party relations
Sony has developped an ability to work with 3rd parties, often developing very strong bonds of success with their partners. Upon reading the FFVII Polygon article, we got to peek inside how Sony cultivates its relationships with 3rd party partners. In order to build these strong ties, their recipe stands on the following factors: money (lots of money), listening to the needs of 3rd parties (since they are typically the ones driving the console) and making decisions based on that feedback, and their track record. These factors make Sony the go-to provider for a 3rd party video game platform. While Microsoft has its own strength to capture 3rd party partners, such as cross-compatibility with computers and simplification of the development process, Sony has a more complete package to allure 3rd parties.
d) Sony has built a library of exclusive IPs
Over the 4 generations that Sony has been a part of the console race, they have built up a decent port-folio of exclusive Intellectual Properties, further strengthening their games library, and buffing their exclusive games selection, making the Playstation more attractive than their direct competitor MS from a games library perspective.
e) Sony aims for diversity, quality and broadness in games
Sony seeks to work with as many partners as possible to offer the most diverse, the broadest library and the one with the highest overall quality. This is what makes the Playstation a very solid proposition, because its library is known to offer games of high quality for all tastes.
f) Sony sticks to tried formulas
It's no secret that the Playstation is a console that takes ideas that worked and puts them to use. A perfect example is the dual-shock controller, which was the main controller for the playstation for the majority of its lifespan. The controller seldom changed, and stuck to a proven shape and set of buttons. The Playstation included the Move only when it was proven as a sensation on the Wii. Sony will once in a while play with new ways of playing, but never in a way that is central to the console, such as the EyeToy peripheral, or PS VR.
g) Sony is not afraid to copy its competitors
Steve Jobs famously said in 1996: "Picasso had a saying -- 'good artists copy; great artists steal' -- and we have always been shameless about stealing great ideas." From PSBR to Resistance, to Crash Team Racing, to the PS Move, Sony has never been ashamed of copying ideas from its competitors. This keeps them relevant when the competition is gaining an edge in the market, and attenuates the spotlight their competitor is given.
h) Sony is an electronics company first, then a game-maker
For this reason, Sony is able to make the Playstation a full media device since the very first playstation which was able to play back CDs. The PS2 was DVD-playback ready, the PS3 could play blu-ray disks and the PS4 Pro had 4k capabilities. This fits well with the brand image Sony has as a maker of reliable electronics hardware, and gives the Playstation extra selling features.
Having said all that, there is no such thing as a console standard, and such a thing is not desirable for gamers, who need variety and competition so that there can be different machines living in the market at the same time, allowing for more freedom to choose a preference. To push for a console standard is to push for conformity, and that is generally not desirable.
Edit: One more point. The PS3 and PS4 in the list have an issue. Firstly, the PS3 sold 80m, which made it basically tied to the X360 in sales worldwide, while the Wii outsold it. The PS4 number is also an issue because the PS4 is strong everywhere except in Japan, where it is being severly beaten by the Switch. This puts into question the idea of the Playstation being the standard for home consoles since 1994, since the numbers don't show that the PS3 was in 2nd or last place depending on how you look at it, and the PS4 is strong everywhere but not in Japan.
Last edited by padib - on 08 June 2020