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PS4 ‘could’ve been the end’ for PlayStation, says former exec

kretos

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A key executive involved with PlayStation 4’s launch has reflected on how a culture change within Sony helped the console become “an incredible success, beyond our wildest dreams.”

Shahid Ahmad spent a decade at Sony Interactive Entertainment, most recently in the role of director for strategic content, where he played a large part in the indie push on PS Vita and PS4, ahead of his departure in 2015.

In a new documentary called The PlayStation Revolution, which is set to release in September, Ahmad reflected on the “difficult period” of PS3 which he said transformed PlayStation from a “hubristic” organisation into the “humble, passionate and excited” company that launched PS4.

Had the organisation not made that cultural change, Ahmad said, it could’ve been “the end” for the platform holder.

“PS3 was many things to many different people,” he said in the film, viewed ahead of release by VGC. “It was definitely a difficult period, because a lot of work had to be done to turn around the technical deficit and the monetary deficit created by the launch of this extraordinary piece of hardware.

“Because it was an extraordinary piece of hardware, but it was also extraordinarily difficult to get the best out of. And people did, and it did eventually turn into a success. but my god was that a war of attrition.”

He added: “The PlayStation that emerged at the end of PS3 was a much more gritty, determined, focused entity – and I’m not saying this from a personal perspective, but from a corporate perspective – than the much more hubristic organisation at the beginning of the PS3 era.”

Ahmad said that because of the missteps of the PS3 era, the stakes were incredibly high for PS4’s launch. Fortunately, he added, the console’s reception topped Sony’s wildest expectations.

“I think even we were surprised by just how rapturous the reception was for PS4, because it was a kind of redemption as well,” he explained. “We’d been through the fire with PS3 and now everything was on the line. We had to get this right and if we didn’t, it could’ve been the end
.

 

Amiga

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Sony did evolve because of the PS3. their 1st party reputation grew out of their determination to fulfill the PS3. that needed collecting and nurturing a lot of talent that could properly utilize the PS3. that experience in managing a diverse and large group of studios served them well on the PS4. even with success this time they didn't slow down and built up their 1st part studios even more. if they keep this up Sony can survive the inevitable end of closed consoles. the new PlayStation Studios branding is a harbinger of this.
 

kretos

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Tag checks out

 

-Arcadia-

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Well, this is sounding like a must-watch. I don't know that I've ever seen anything drill into what it was like behind-the-scenes of PS3, and that has to be a pretty fascinating story to tell.

Any other articles or videos on the subject, btw?
 

DonF

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PlayStation brand is iconic now. When I was young, every videogame was a Nintendo, now its a PlayStation. You don't drop cause of one "failure" which ps3 wasn't.
 

Trimesh

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They did lose billions on the PS3 but I'm glad they pulled things together with the PS4 and the PS5 doesn't seem to be having any big missteps

Although I like the machine, the PS3 was honestly an engineering disaster that ended up being far more expensive and complex than was originally intended. The original design concept was simple and elegant - it was the Cell along with a limited function GPU, but as the development proceeded it became more and more obvious that getting more than a fraction of the theoretical performance out of Cell was extremely hard. On top of this, the PS2 emulation was way behind schedule and the release date was moving closer.

So they ended up getting rid of the original Toshiba GPU and replacing it with the (nVidia) RSX - which was far more expensive. On top of this, since the software PS2 emulator wasn't going to be ready they had to implement a hardware one, which basically consisted of the merged EE+GS chip used in the PSX and some slims along with it's own local RAM. Finally, the expected ramp up of Blu-Ray hadn't occurred and the 405nm laser diodes were still excessively expensive.

All of this ended up resulting in a fantastically expensive machine they had to sell at a loss.
 

-Arcadia-

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The original design concept was simple and elegant - it was the Cell along with a limited function GPU, but as the development proceeded it became more and more obvious that getting more than a fraction of the theoretical performance out of Cell was extremely hard.

I've always heard interesting things about the GPU, from a second Cell Processor for the GPU (?), to this. I'd love to read up on the original plans in more detail if you know anything off-hand.
 

moose fatcat

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No console maker has come in last place in two generations back-to-back and survived, so far. If PS4 had sold more like Xbox One this generation, I'm not sure if that would mean there'd never be a PS5 but it would definitely have changed Sony's approach in some way.

Nintendo is the most manic/depressive lately -- they're either in last place and near death, or they're in first place and invincible. Gamecube, embarrassing purple lunchbox. Wii, reinventing video games on a budget. Wii U, looks like one of the many kiosk rip-offs of the real wii and sold like it. Switch, the most popular once again.

N64 was the only time Nintendo was in second place, ahead of Sega but behind Sony. Once MS entered the chat and it became the three players it is today, Sony & Microsoft are always going head to head, either as first and second, or second and third, but Nintendo doesn't really come between them anymore.

Sony & MS are divorced parents in a custody battle for the player, and Nintendo is like the wacky uncle always up to some invention. Sometimes it's brilliant and sometimes he's just rushing in covered in rat bites with his dick out screaming 'trust me, i'm close!' at your whole family with a gun to his head. 'DONT MAKE ME DO IT!!!!
 

ZywyPL

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It's true. Kids fight their console/sales wars, claiming how Sony "won" the PS360 generation", completely ignoring the fact those ~86MLN PS3 sold brought nothing but over 10BLN$ loss, that's not how winning looks like. And at the end of the PS360 ero, during the transition to 8th generation, Sony has went through some really deep restructuring, closing/selling many of their divisions, and even some 1st party studios, many people were laid off, so I dn't know, maybe I'm dumb but I cannot see the "wining" part in this scenario... It's all just a business, it's all about money, if it doesn't bring it it's not "winning". But they learned their lessons damn well, PS4 was chap as fuck, they made the opposite move of the infamous 599, which was the reason they dominated this gen, they started to charge for online, which by itself brings shit-ton of free cash, and now they are where they are, being able to buy new studios again, invest in 3rd party deals, and so on.
 

DinoD

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At least it wasn't a Pyrrhic victory for Sony. As others pointed out. Sony learned a hard lesson and that helped them out in many ways. Formation of the technical know-how hub that served as a pre-cursor to the creation of WW Studios, is probably the biggest one. Though I'm still baffled as to how MS didn't learn from Sony's PS3. They went almost the same path with XBox1, albeit @ $100 cheaper.
 

DinoD

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I bought the PS3 on the release. After finishing the "Ressistance FOM" I was mostly helping with folding proteins and watching blu-ray movies for almost a year before games started to trickle through. :)
 
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Compsiox

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Microsoft being more expensive at launch was the main factor for Sony's victory just like it was one of the main problems for PS3. Also that Microsoft + Nintendo fucked up their marketing completely helped a lot.
Even casuals were talking about the kinect spying on you and no used games. Word definitely got around about shady shit even if some of it is untrue.
 

turtlepowa

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Even casuals were talking about the kinect spying on you and no used games. Word definitely got around about shady shit even if some of it is untrue.
Maybe, but that's not the biggest deal. Sony could cancel all their 3rd person action adventures tommorrow and say "We hate all gamers, you are stupid". If the Ps5 is 100 bucks cheaper, it still sells like hot cake.
 

ZywyPL

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The PS3 was amazing and inspirational, though.
What a glorious trainwreck of a console.

The PS4 always felt like the boring "play it safe by the numbers"-console compared to the wackiness that was the PS3.

Yeah, the PS3 and its marketing made it feel like it came from the future or was sent on Earth by aliens, what an amazing time for real.
 
Oct 16, 2017
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Maybe, but that's not the biggest deal. Sony could cancel all their 3rd person action adventures tommorrow and say "We hate all gamers, you are stupid". If the Ps5 is 100 bucks cheaper, it still sells like hot cake.
XboxOne is cheaper than PS4 for the majority of its life, at this point.
Being cheaper isn't the point, the point is it being cheap ENOUGH. Just as most people wouldn't buy the cheapest possible car. The people who want PS4 as cheap as possible, are still waiting for Superslim and $199. Everyone who bought a PS4 by now are willing to pay a little more than that.

Also note that having a Superslim at 199 has a price to pay, which would be extremely bad build quality.

I guess my point is that Sony is conditioning their customers for $399 bering the launch price, as that was the case for both PS4 and PS4Pro.
 

turtlepowa

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XboxOne is cheaper than PS4 for the majority of its life, at this point.
Being cheaper isn't the point, the point is it being cheap ENOUGH. Just as most people wouldn't buy the cheapest possible car. The people who want PS4 as cheap as possible, are still waiting for Superslim and $199. Everyone who bought a PS4 by now are willing to pay a little more than that.

Also note that having a Superslim at 199 has a price to pay, which would be extremely bad build quality.

I guess my point is that Sony is conditioning their customers for $399 bering the launch price, as that was the case for both PS4 and PS4Pro.
Being cheaper at LAUNCH is the point, because what do people do that buy their console later? They buy what their friends already have, even if the other console is cheaper by that time. I hope we will get the prices soon, will be interesting to see how much the Lockhart will be and how well it sells. I think if it's 150 bucks cheaper than the PS5 DE it will be a huge success.
 

TheAssist

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Maybe, but that's not the biggest deal. Sony could cancel all their 3rd person action adventures tommorrow and say "We hate all gamers, you are stupid". If the Ps5 is 100 bucks cheaper, it still sells like hot cake.

You're trying to hard to find the most simple solution. Price affects a sub portion of the player base yes. But it does not explain everything. People have laid out some of the reasons why so many people switched from MS to Sony this gen. Its more complicated than just price. If price was the be all end all, apple shouldn't exist. Yet they do pretty good for themselves.
 

turtlepowa

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You're trying to hard to find the most simple solution. Price affects a sub portion of the player base yes. But it does not explain everything. People have laid out some of the reasons why so many people switched from MS to Sony this gen. Its more complicated than just price. If price was the be all end all, apple shouldn't exist. Yet they do pretty good for themselves.
I was always talking about the main reason, not the only reason. Sony lost 80 million customers from PS2 to PS3. Mainly because of the price, that's why the lowered it so fast. But also of course, because they were late. Same this gen, just marketing disaster instead of being late.
 
Oct 16, 2017
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Being cheaper at LAUNCH is the point, because what do people do that buy their console later? They buy what their friends already have, even if the other console is cheaper by that time. I hope we will get the prices soon, will be interesting to see how much the Lockhart will be and how well it sells. I think if it's 150 bucks cheaper than the PS5 DE it will be a huge success.
The odds of Lockhart actually being released is diminishing by the day. If MS hadn't even revealed Lockhart, you are not where near knowing its cost. My advice is be prepared for it going up in a puff of smoke.
 

turtlepowa

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The odds of Lockhart actually being released is diminishing by the day. If MS hadn't even revealed Lockhart, you are not where near knowing its cost. My advice is be prepared for it going up in a puff of smoke.
It's more clever to wait for Sony's prices before announcing it. It's their chance to undercut Sony by a decent amount. But maybe you are right and it doesn't exist after all. I won't buy it anyways, i just think it's interesting for all the casuals without a 4k tv and much money.
 
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vaibhavpisal

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Microsoft being more expensive at launch was the main factor for Sony's victory just like it was one of the main problems for PS3. Also that Microsoft + Nintendo fucked up their marketing completely helped a lot.

Sony always drops big guns at end of console generation. Helps with next gen adaption.

Last time it was Last of us, this time its Last of us 2 and Ghost of Tsushima.
 

Trimesh

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I've always heard interesting things about the GPU, from a second Cell Processor for the GPU (?), to this. I'd love to read up on the original plans in more detail if you know anything off-hand.

It was just from a conversation I had with one of the engineers who was working on it early on - basically, the original architectural idea was that Cell would do pretty much everything and the rest of the supporting hardware would be made as simple as possible. The problem was that it turned out that writing high-performance firmware for Cell was a lot harder than they expected and they got so close to the wire that they just had to start throwing hardware at the problem to get the product out in time. The PS2 emulator did eventually have pretty decent performance, but got to that state far too late for the launch.
 

Kerotan

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It's good that it made them humble and stronger. We've seen with xbox that it's made them humble too but not stronger so it was no mean feat going from your weakest gen to your strongest. Hopefully the ps5 can continue that momentum.
 
S

Steve.1981

Unconfirmed Member
The success of the PS4 is just about the most perfect example of how much it means to keep it simple.

Think about it. What have Sony done with the PS4? They made good, reliable hardware that's easy to operate & made a bunch of great games for it, which look fantastic & are fun to play. It doesn't seem all that complicated, does it?

I've owned a base model & a Pro. Never had any issues with either. I switch on, log in & I'm in my game in a minute or two. It's hassle free. Damn near every game they've released has been, at the very least, worth a play-through.

If Sony keep the same approach for the PS5, they will most likely dominate next gen as well. I'd say at this point in history, PlayStation is now up there alongside Nintendo as a simple guarantee of gaming quality. Hats off to them. They've done very well.
 
Dec 25, 2018
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Basically, Microsoft could have done a Mortal Kombat Fatality but decided to implode with the "Friendship"ality instead, on a sliver of health left.

Then Round 2 happened and Sony got a Perfect AND a Fatality.
 
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Ten_Fold

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I didn’t buy my ps3 till like 08, I had the 360 back in 05, I loved how diverse the lineup was, also the ps3 launch was expensive and didn’t have any games I wanted to play besides Folklore I think. For me it was the games/price. The Series X could be $100 cheaper, but if Sony launches with Spider-Man they are going to dominate again.
 
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Former PlayStation Executive? Suuuure, was he not just "a PR guy"?
"Gimmie 1080p60 or gimmie ....."
... cultural change? What is he talking about.
 

Jigsaah

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*Walks in expecting intelligent discussion*

*gets hit in the face with random pile of feces*

*walks out*
 
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laser_printer

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No console maker has come in last place in two generations back-to-back and survived, so far. If PS4 had sold more like Xbox One this generation, I'm not sure if that would mean there'd never be a PS5 but it would definitely have changed Sony's approach in some way.

Nintendo is the most manic/depressive lately -- they're either in last place and near death, or they're in first place and invincible. Gamecube, embarrassing purple lunchbox. Wii, reinventing video games on a budget. Wii U, looks like one of the many kiosk rip-offs of the real wii and sold like it. Switch, the most popular once again.

N64 was the only time Nintendo was in second place, ahead of Sega but behind Sony. Once MS entered the chat and it became the three players it is today, Sony & Microsoft are always going head to head, either as first and second, or second and third, but Nintendo doesn't really come between them anymore.

Sony & MS are divorced parents in a custody battle for the player, and Nintendo is like the wacky uncle always up to some invention. Sometimes it's brilliant and sometimes he's just rushing in covered in rat bites with his dick out screaming 'trust me, i'm close!' at your whole family with a gun to his head. 'DONT MAKE ME DO IT!!!!

I agree and don't agree.

I think they realized that creating more unique experiences was their way going forward and there was nothing that more advanced hardware would do per-say, to make Breathe of the Wild or Mario Galaxy any better than it could be except for being a higher budget.

And it's worked, they're making money hand over fist and have been for years. Last place or not people still talk about their experiences with the switch/wiiu/wii.
 
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