Monday, June 11, 2007

Sony launches blog for Playstation

Big news in the social media space, as Sony has launched a blog for the Playstation. Of course it would be totally unfair to review it now, so the blog may show up on a future entry in the Company Blog Checkup Series in a few months. I did notice that comments are enabled, and they have gotten a LOT of them!

But I do think this is an interesting opportunity for Sony to gain some new fans for their console. If utilized properly, the blog could be a great way to give background information on how video games and consoles are designed and created, even how in-game marketing deals are structured and implemented. Here's how they see the blog heading forward:
At the moment, we’re thinking about sharing all sorts of things here, ranging from product news and title announcements to developer updates and industry opinion posts – all of which will come straight from the people here inside SCEA who are working, thinking and playing with this stuff every day. Look to the categories on the sidebar for some initial thoughts we have on future post themes.

We'll see what happens, based on the above quote from one of the blog's writers, I have a feeling that it will be heavy on self-promotion. Karl what do you think so far?

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gianandrea said...

sony, better be good to bloggers and do not replay what you did with the zapatoni incident. a fair disclosure is the best way to go for.

J.D. said...

It'll be interesting to see how this one pans out. I have to say, it's about time. For a company that has the word "computer" in their corporate title, they're a little late in joining the blogosphere.

I think what Sony desperately needs to stay away from is the "Nintendo Power Syndrome." ("Nintendo Power," of course, being the magazine that Nintendo publishes for gamers.) That magazine has always had little to no credibility with serious gamers, as it has never been seriously critical of any Nintendo game, no matter how bad it sucks. And it's blatantly just a 100 page ad for all things Nintendo. No serious gamer reads it for anything other than the occasional cheat code.

What Sony better realize straight out of the box is that the market that they're approaching is highly tech savvy and shrewd, and if their blog turns out to be little more than product-pimping and self-aggrandizement, they will turn off way more people than they turn on. If, however, they openly address tech issues (such as Playstation's typically shoddy and fragile hardware) and what they plan to do about them, I expect they could do well.

What I'd like to see, as someone who has not yet committed to any of the next gen systems, are posts about tech issues, posts from developers as they are developing a game, posts from beta-testers that are HONEST, posts from gaming geeks not paid by Sony that the company selects to write for them. Game reviews are optional, since that is a dicey territory and since I don't generally trust a company's review of its own product.

Let's just say, for example, that The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess was developed by Sony, rather than Nintendo. That title's release was delayed by two years just so it could launch on the Wii. If that were Sony's project, I would have liked to see posts from the developers, detailing tweaks they were making to the game. I'd like to see screenshots. I'd like to even see clips of video (either of the game or artists working on the game.) I'd like a post saying "gosh, it's been a hard day working on the Z-targeting." You know, stuff like that. If I had had that from Nintendo, I likely wouldn't have cancelled my pre-order and asked for my money back. As it was with Nintendo, there were glimpses here and there, but nary a peep as to what to expect until it became obvious that I was being horn-swoggled and strong-armed into buying a Wii. (Yes, I know a GameCube version was released, but who wants to be the loser to pick that one up?)

I agree, Mack. A well done PS3 blog has a big possibility to create both fans AND evangelists. Let's just hope they don't fall into the traditional corporate traps.

Anonymous said...

When it comes to videogame consoles, you're dealing with an entirely different animal. A blog will not create fans for the Playstation 3, as you mention in your post. The only thing that can do that is the release of quality games, fun games for the console.

But what the blog can do is serve as an information source for interested parties (owners, potential owners, and the videogame press). But it is a tight line to walk because, as you say, they do not need to pimp their own products.

Here's a thought. What if Sony took the same approach as HomeGoods and let some of their evangelists write posts. This could be a good or a very bad idea. Why bad? Because console evangelists tend to be extremely loyal to a fault and often revert to insulting other systems despite their better qualities.

Anonymous said...

Mack: will a blog such as this 'create' fans or grow those existing relationships? I asked this before in a previous post of yours because I'm really grappling with this idea of creating evangelists/fans (I think we can produce initiatives that encourage fans but creating them exists in creating superior products/services/experiences...not communications like blogs). I see this more of a "customer relationship" initiative than an acquisition one (and I may well be wrong). Thoughts?

Mack Collier said...

CK I think the easiest way to 'create' evangelists for many companies, is from their existing customer base. Because often times we evangelize companies/products that we have had a relationship with for a while.

Michael I was thinking more in line of the blog serving as a differentiator for customers that own multiple consoles. Let's say the gamer that owns both the X-Box and PS3, and doesn't feel a real need to evangelize either. But something like a well-run blog for the PS could be the nudge that gamer needs to start to evangelize the PS3 over the X-Box. Maybe the next time they want to buy a game that's on both the X-Box and PS3, they pick the PS3 version, and encourage their friends to do the same.

Bottom line is that a well-run blog can't hurt the PS3's sales.

And G, what a 180 eh? To see Sony go from a fake blog, to a real one in 6 months. Looks like Sony is trying to figure out how to wade the social media waters, as are many other big companies.

Shame they didn't email me first, coulda saved them a ton of cash and brand equity!

Anonymous said...

Thanks Mack. I agree that initiatives, like blogs, arm evangelists with the necessary ammo to spread their passion. My advice to clients would be to follow the core principle of creating superior products/services/experiences and then ensure they have created communications loops and areas for their communities to congregate...or, when they congregate in their own spaces, to reach out and support them however necessary. Makes good marketing sense to me ;-).

J.D. said...


Not to be obtuse, but I think you're a little off-base by saying that a blog won't create fans. Granted, yes, a console has to have the support of really good game titles and stellar hardware, but bottom line is who's going to know unless someone is out there telling you?

As a casual gamer, I have made MANY, if not all, of my purchase decisions within the last five years based solely on what I've read online. Before I lay a finger on a console or even a game itself, I will have read pages upon pages from bloggers, techies, reviewers, industry insiders, etc.

I remember a year or two ago buying the game Black. Did I buy it because I saw a TV commercial? No. I don't believe I ever saw one ad for it. Did I buy it because it was a popular license? No. The reason I bought it was because I read blogs aplenty about it, saw screen shots, and read interviews with the developers where they explained the mechanics of the game, told me how it was to be the last great game on the PS2, and let me know that I could blow up environments as well as enemy soldiers. Basically, I who knew nothing about the game was introduced to it solely through online chatter, obtained a demo, and became a huge fan of the game. And because of my excitement over the game, guess which game my other gamer friends ALL got. That's right.

So why shouldn't Sony stake their place in the conversation?? It's going on, with or without them. And they could create the greatest games in the WORLD, games that would blow your mind, games that would make you wet your pants on sight, and you'd never know a thing about them unless somebody started the conversation. This is how fans and "evangelists" come to pass. And heck, if I'm on the fence between a 360, a PS3, or a Wii, a good company blog just might be the stiff wind that blows me over to Sony's side of the pasture.

C'mon, Mike...gotta open your way of thinkin!



Mack Collier said...

I might have misinterpreted what Michael was saying, but I think his point was that a Sony blog wouldn't make a big difference with gamers. And it might not, but then again, the video game market is so huge, that even if this blog can just nudge the needle in Sony's favor, that's still a lot of extra sales.

Either way, I don't think it will hurt, and you're right JD, we want to buy from people we trust. And we tend to trust our friends and even strangers on the internet, more than companies.

Which goes back to Michael's question about should Sony let some of its evangelists write for the blog? Then we run into the same issues that HomeGoods has, where i would be Sony's responsibility to set the guidelines for content on the site. I think if the evangelists really promote the PSP and PS3, there might be some pushback, especially given the fake blog fiasco that G has already mentioned. Sony still has some trust to gain back from its customers from that.

Anonymous said...


My point is that a blog will not create a fan for a console. But a blog can, as you've shown in your last comment, build buzz, excitement, and intrigue. If done right, that's exactly what Sony can do with it's new blog.

I'm going to stick with my original thought; the only thing that can create fans of a console are it's games (its products). You said it yourself, "I who knew nothing about the game was introduced to it solely through online chatter, obtained a demo, and became a huge fan of the game." You became a fan after you tried the product.

Basically, my stance is the same as CK's. Great products create fans, in this case a blog just provides a way for people to spread the passion.

Anonymous said...

Having worked with video game clients before, one thing I have learned about them is they LOVE to talk to anyone on the "inside"! This blog could be a great way for Sony gamers to feel that they now have access to the game developers, as long as Sony is willing to partner with their customers in that fashion.

Sony should view this opportunity as a way to really have dialogue with their customers, much the way that Southwest has opened up, listened, and responded. If it can get beyond marketing fluff (gamers see through that very quickly!) to a meaningful conversation, Sony could create evangelists with their blog from even "casual" gamers.

Now if Sony can just ensure the rest of their experience (support, gameplay, etc) also rock, they will have something here.

Anonymous said...

I really think it will end up helping that much. There are already so many gaming BLOGs out there. I think the bigger use of this blog may be getting out product information for the next level down blogs were users will more likely go. Cheers.

Anonymous said...

that's exactly what Sony can do with it's new blog.