Jack Tretton’s wording during the Sony press conference on Monday evening seemed carefully chosen to call out Microsoft. By saying things like “single-player gaming won’t be restricted if you haven’t authenticated in the last 24 hours,” it seemed like Sony was doing all it could to nail Microsoft to the wall. In fact, I’m sure more than a few gamers assumed that Sony chose the policies for the PlayStation 4 – no restrictions on used games and no required internet connection – to directly challenge what Microsoft was doing with the Xbox One.
According to Shuhei Yoshida, President of Sony Worldwide Studios, that wasn’t the case:
“”We didn’t make a policy decision [ for other company's mishaps]– it takes time and effort. We are going to treat disc games like the PS3 because there are a lot of people that like to share their games. We do expect more people will gradually shift to all digital, but it’s not going to happen overnight. There are still parts of the world that do not have robust internet infrastructure.. but it’s important to provide what people need.”
Sony’s decisions, then, seem to be rooted in an understanding of what the consumer wanted. As has been stated many times, it’s a very drastic shift from the Sony of 2005: the one that displayed contemptuous arrogance, and trumpeted the “$599 U.S” line like it was a favour. Their current stance toward the PS4 suggests that they learned from the mistakes they made back then, but one has to wonder if this is a lesson they will remember permanently, or one they will forget once the advantage is squarely in their court again, as it was when the PS2 was the dominating console.
I know people have criticized a lot of the praise Sony have been getting by saying that “they’re just maintaining the status quo,” but when the choice is the status quo, or the change to a much more restrictive system, praise for maintaining it is exactly what a company deserves. Whether or not Sony was intentionally trying to nail Microsoft to the wall is almost irrelevant at this point: they definitely have done. But it’s nice to think that Sony’s policies were chosen because they’re something the company believes in, and not because they knew it was better than what their competitor was doing.