The PS5 has been out for several months and, while it’s shaping up to be potentially Sony’s greatest console yet, it’s not been the smoothest of console launches.
From stock shortages to poor communication, let’s look at six lessons Sony can learn from the launch of the PS5.
1. Don’t Release Your Console During a Pandemic
The PS5 has definitely seen some benefit from the pandemic, namely in the extreme demand that otherwise might not be as insatiable if people weren’t sitting at home, bored. But, the PS5 is now the fastest-selling console in US history, and that’s something Sony can be proud of.
That being said, this is also a case of numbers not exactly translating to success—at least, not for gamers.
Many of us still haven’t got our hands on Sony’s console although it’s flying off shelves, and that’s because of a wide range of factors, all made worse by the pandemic. It has exacerbated stock shortages, console scalpers, and extreme demand, leaving many gamers either ripped-off, scammed, or simply unable to purchase a PS5.
This must’ve been a calculated decision by Sony: whether it should release the PS5 during the pandemic. And while it’s certainly paid off in sales figures, it might not have been the most gamer-friendly move.
2. Console Scalpers and Scammers Are Everywhere
Most of us probably knew about scalpers—people that buy limited-stock products purely to sell them for profit—but it’s likely we didn’t realize just how malicious and exploitative the whole practice was until the scalpers soaked up what little PS5 stock was being released.
The same goes for console scammers, going one step below scalpers by ripping off gamers with no console in return, leaving everyone but themselves empty-handed.
Sony has kept disappointingly quiet regarding PS5 scalpers and scammers; we can only hope that it’s working on at least one method that deters console scalpers from preying on frustrated gamers.
3. Make Sure That Your Starting Library Is Outstanding
The PS5 is an outstanding console. However, its launch library could’ve been—and still could be—better.
Though the PS5 started with some great cross-gen and cross-platform games, the only notable true PS5-exclusives that made up its launch were… Astro’s Playroom and the Demon’s Souls remake.
Whilst both are brilliant games, they don’t make the PS5 a must-buy console. Sure, the PS5 is backward compatible with 99% of PS4 games and can add improvements to select PS4 games, but those don’t count as brand-new PS5 experiences.
Likewise, with Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales—yes, it looks and runs better on the PS5, but it’s also available on the PS4 and the experience isn’t unplayable on Sony’s last-gen console.
Though we should expect more PS5-exclusive games, like Returnal that arrived earlier this year, to keep coming, the PS5 didn’t launch with a selection of games that scream “you must buy a PS5!”.
4. Are Small PS5 Stock Drops Really the Answer?
With the limited stocks of PS5s, they’ve been dropping sporadically and in very small quantities, meaning that whatever stock Sony releases is snapped up instantly, and mostly by scalpers.
While Sony can’t do much against the stock shortage besides make as many consoles as it can, surely there could be a better way of releasing PS5 stock than drip-feeding it to your customers in a way that means most people will not get one?
Would it be better to just stop selling the PS5 for a few months, building up numbers whilst working with retailers to secure anti-scalping practices, then release them with ample numbers and ethical practices in place?
We don’t know, but given the lack of communication from Sony on this, it doesn’t either.
5. Work With Rather Than Against Smaller Companies for Unique Designs
When Sony revealed the PS5, its design divided gamers. Alternate faceplate colors certainly would’ve helped make Sony’s current-gen console more palatable to more of the gaming community.
So with Sony’s official PS5 comprising one color, smaller companies worked on alternate PS5 faceplates.
This could’ve been a significant moment for Sony, which often talks a lot about supporting smaller businesses: here it could support smaller businesses and give them its blessing (maybe partnering up with one or two) whilst also satisfying more of its fan base.
So what did Sony do? Well, with one PS5 faceplate maker, Sony allegedly threatened legal action and forced the PS5 faceplate maker to cancel orders.
While we can understand why Sony did this, you can’t help but think that there was an option that was kinder, supportive, and less… corporate.
So did that stop third parties from making their own legally allowed faceplates and designs? No. But, without the infrastructure, backing, and support from an enormous company like Sony, disasters were almost sure to happen, such as with SUP3R5 canceling all PS2-themed PS5 orders.
6. Communicate With Your Fan Base Regarding the PS5
Though Sony’s business is its own, and it has more facts, figures, and experience than the public, it would certainly help us understand Sony’s actions if it communicated clearer.
As mentioned, with the stock issues and PS5 scalpers, Sony’s mentioned the former slightly—with mixed messages—the latter, barely, keeping its fan base guessing when the PS5 will become a readily available console.
Sure, platitudes and corporate speak aren’t great, but Sony could avoid that: it’s supported gamers before, such as with the Play At Home initiative. It would meet open and honest communication with mostly good faith and understanding.
You launched a console in a pandemic, Sony. We understand if you’re struggling to produce enough PS5s or combat scalpers, but acknowledging these issues and giving guidance on the inconsistent, low stock drops, PS5 anti-scalping measures, and any other FAQs would really help.
The PS5 Is Worth Waiting For
There’s been good and bad with the launch of the PS5, the good being the PS5, the bad being the launch.
Sony’s PS5 reveal and its PS5-exclusive games really show off what a powerful, intuitive, and improved console it is. It’s a shame that what hinders the PS5’s status are external reasons. No console is worth paying above RRP for, losing your sleep over, or sacrificing your physical and mental health just to own.
Hopefully, Sony can learn from the PS5’s launch and, sooner rather than later, you’ll have your hands on arguably the best console Sony’s produced yet.
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