Sony's biggest accomplishment of the year, past the fact the PlayStation 4 has all but owned the current generation of consoles sales, is that it was able to so easily dominate the early December news cycle.
The PlayStation Experience was part victory lap, part E3 and part PAX, but now that we're a few days out from the event we can clearly see its real value. This was one of the best pieces of marketing any console manufacturer has put on in the past few years, with enough big news to justify its awkward timing and the fact that so many industry folks and press flew out to Las Vegas to attend.
The fact it was all but bolted onto the first annual Game Awards didn't hurt, giving the press and players something to talk about during the normally slow first week of December.
I'm not interested in repeating any of the news that was shown during the event, although you should definitely catch up if you weren't following along at home. What's so fascinating about this move is how decisively and easily Sony was able to grab the news cycle in the days leading up to the event, certainly across the weekend, and now this week we'll see the longer pieces based on interviews and hands-on access dribble out across the enthusiast press.
People will still be excited about the games they haven't had time to play or money to buy yet, the big rush of October and November will still fuel retail sales going in to the Holidays. What the PlayStation Experience did, and its value in this part of the system's hype-cycle, was to justify everyone's purchase while pushing fence-sittings towards the PlayStation 4.
It's rare for events of this size to take place during December, but the value of that hype when so many consumers are looking at which system to buy for their home during the holidays can't be overstated. If you're wondering which system to pick up, and Sony is dominating the news with big announcements and trailers, the decision may have been made much easier on you.
Sony gave players new reasons to get excited for the platform
Microsoft has begun to play ball this generation after ditching the Kinect and beginning to offer some great values in terms of bundles. The Xbox One is actually less expensive than the PlayStation 4 in some situations, and this puts Sony is the best situation possible. If sales remain strong, why drop the price? If sales need to be goosed, they know where they need to go with pricing to fight back.
By leaning on the brand's past, even releasing a beautiful new edition of the PlayStation 4 that looks like the the original PlayStation, and focusing on what's coming in 2015 on both the PlayStation 4 and Vita, Sony has refreshed enthusiasm for the product and its future without dropping the price directly. Sony gave players new reasons to get excited for the platform during what could be the biggest shopping month of the year for consoles.
Microsoft has been forced to fight back against Sony's strong start this generation, and they've done so well, but Sony's reaction has to be celebrate itself, including both its past and its future, and that's a powerful statement during what is usually a brutal pricing and content war at the end of the year. The PlayStation Experience was a success in every measurable way, but this trick will only work once; next year we can expect everyone to try the same thing.
That's a worry for the future though, as Sony may have already locked up Christmas weeks before the presents are put under the tree. It threw itself a party, and everyone came.