Playstation 3 bulks up for marketers

SonyPlaystation2Sony’s Playstation 3 may be forging a new direction for their console—one which could provide a potentially attractive platform for marketers.

The Playstation 3 had a rough start in the ongoing console war with Nintendo Wii and the Xbox 360, which has forced Sony to re-evaluate and modify their strategy for the console. Howard Stringer, Chairman of Sony Corp. announced at the annual shareholder meeting in June that restoring profitability to the television and games divisions is the company’s top priority.

Three recent, bold moves by the company show the Sony Chairman is serious about turning things around for the Playstation 3:

-In-game advertiser IGA Worldwide recently announced a deal with Sony to provide in-game advertising for the Playstation 3, which breaks the exclusive hold Microsoft’s Massive Inc. has had on console-placed dynamic ads.

-Sony is slated to launch their much anticipated virtual world Home in the fall of 2008, which is a customizable social environment similar to Second Life, but with more content control and filtering.

-Sony Computer Entertainment CEO Kaz Hirai has announced there will be a video-download service launching for the Playstation 3, which will directly compete with one of the Xbox360’s most-touted features.

These developments are very promising for ad-placement on the console, but the aggregate hardware sales still lag behind Microsoft’s Xbox360 and Nintendo’s Wii. However, the recent adoption of Blu-Ray as the official HD format may help push hardware sales— Playstation 3 is one of the highest-rated Blu-Ray players on the market. As the number of units increases, the likelihood of third party publishers committing to platform-exclusive titles increases, which in turn will help fuel hardware sales. This is a much-needed development, as the Playstation 3 has only had one critically acclaimed system-exclusive to date (released in June).

One development, which could help the Playstation push units to core gamers, would be to dominate console games based on user-generated content and social experiences. The outfitting of Sony’s PlayStation Experience trucks that will market the system over the summer indicate this is precisely the direction the company is going in. Content sharing games provide more organic ad placement, similar to some of the viral campaigns run on YouTube. Based on the user response to EA’s recent Spore Creature Creator (over a million creatures created in the first week), this genre of gaming stands to be very successful.