Does PlayStation brand lack 'consumer excitement'?

An analyst says Sony must revitalize the PlayStation brand in 2012--something, he says, it has had trouble with over the last few years.

Sony

Sony's PlayStation 3 and the rest of company's gaming division have yet to make consumers recognize their value, DFC Intelligence analyst David Cole says.

Speaking to Industry Gamers in an interview published yesterday, Cole said the PlayStation 3 has proven "incredibly robust" and comes with a "great content library." However, he cautioned that "not all consumers seem to have gotten the word," and Sony is in need of consumer excitement.

"The key challenge in 2012 is to bring back consumer excitement around the Sony and PlayStation brand," Cole said of the consumer electronics giant.

But is Cole's argument fair or accurate? Based on sales figures, it appears quite clear that consumers are excited about the PlayStation brand.

According to Sony's own worldwide PlayStation 3 sales tally, the company sold 3.5 million units during the two quarters the console was available in its 2006 fiscal year. In fiscal year 2007, unit sales were 9.1 million units, followed by 10.1 million in fiscal 2008. In fiscal 2009 and 2010, sales once again rose to 13 million units and 14.3 million units, respectively. Just last month, Sony Computer Entertainment head Andrew House said the company is on target to sell 15 million units by the time its current fiscal year ends in March.

But that's not all. So far, Sony has sold 55.5 million PlayStation 3 units worldwide, as of the end of September, putting it within striking distance of the Xbox 360, which through the same period, sold 57.6 million units worldwide. If Sony does, in fact, sell 15 million PlayStation 3 consoles this year, the company's total tally will hit 65 million. Microsoft, meanwhile, has not provided any indication of how many consoles it could sell in the coming quarters.

So, why does Cole have such a bearish view of Sony's prospects? It could have something to do with the console's past. At launch, the PlayStation 3, which went for as much as $599, was widely viewed as too expensive. Plus, over time, its games library seemed lacking compared to the Xbox 360's. But thanks to numerous recent price cuts that has brought the console back down to an affordable $250 price point, as well as a much deeper game library, players have found much more to like.

Cole's opinion also seems too heavily focused on the U.S. where the PlayStation 3 is still being handily beaten by the Xbox 360. In Japan and several other countries around the world, however, it's quite the opposite, only helping the console gain ground on Microsoft's device.

However, that doesn't mean Sony doesn't have issues. As noted, the company's console is trailing far behind the Xbox 360 in the States, and there is a good chance that will continue into the next generation. Plus, with Nintendo's next console, the Wii U, expected to launch later this year, consumers might dedicate more of their cash to that console than the others .

But before all that happens, at least one analyst thinks Sony should take a look back and be happy with a strong showing in 2011.

"Believe it or not, 2011 was a great year for Sony," EEDAR analyst Jesse Divnich told Industry Gamers.

Sony did not immediately respond to CNET's request for comment on Cole's statements.

 

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