PlayStation 4 Ads Focus on Hardcore Gamers While Xbox Stresses the Living Room
Sony premiered its first TV commercial for the heavily-anticipated PlayStation 4 gaming console during the NBA Finals last night, and like all PS4 marketing to date, the creative portrays the PS4 in stark contrast with its most immediate competitor, Microsoft's Xbox One.
The commercial features a greasy-haired, purpled suited man speaking directly to the camera, trying to inspire viewers to achieve video game greatness. Riddled throughout the 90-second tracking shot are Easter eggs about forthcoming PS4 titles -- "Killzone: Mercenary" and "Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag" chief among them -- a nod to PS4's focus on the gamers.
"We give [gamers] what they want. We don't give them everything, because we don't think they want everything," PlayStation CMO Guy Longworth said, in an interview Tuesday.
While Microsoft is touting the Xbox One as a mass-market device essential for any living room, Sony is more narrowly focused on gamers with the PS4. Gamers -- a typically irascible group -- have lovingly embraced the PS4 in response.
The fanboy lovefest for the PS4 began Monday at Sony's press conference at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles, a day prior to the TV premiere of the "Greatness Awaits" commercial. Whether intentional or not, all the PS4 features announced at the press conference undercut whatever level of buzz Microsoft had generated among gamers with its Xbox One unveil. Not only will PS4 ($399) cost $100 less than Xbox One ($499), it will not impose any restrictions on game sharing or require any amount of Internet connectivity like the Xbox One does.
Audience members broke into a So-nee! So-nee! chant. Gawker-owned gaming website Kotaku ran the headline "Sony Just Smacked The Xbox One In The Mouth" the following morning, complete with the iconic photo of Muhammad Ali (then still Cassius Clay) cocking his first over a knocked out Sonny Liston.
"l can safely say that in my career, it was the single most incredible event that I've been to," Mr. Longworth said. "We really showed that we're for gamers. We really demonstrated that PlayStation is the best place to play and that if you're a gamer you should be on the PlayStation 4 platform."
That dedication to gamers has manifested itself in the PS4's "Greatness Awaits" tagline, a call to controllers for gamers who take pride in their gaming accomplishments. "Greatness Awaits" is what won the PlayStation account for creative agency BBH, Mr. Longworth said.
"We are speaking to this feeling you get when you have these deep immersive experiences you really only get on PlayStation," BBH chief creative officer John Patroulis said. "To treat gaming with this kind of reverence validates the experience that gamers all have."
That doesn't mean Sony won't try to make PS4 appealing to non-gamers. More people stream Netflix content to their televisions via PlayStation 3 (PS3) than any other device, and Mr. Longworth expects that to continue with PS4. PS4 will also host Redbox Instant content and exclusive content developed by Sony Pictures, although he declined to provide details.
Sony's "Greatness Awaits" commercial is currently the centerpiece of its marketing strategy, but Sony's "Official PlayStation Use Game Instructional Video" has generated significantly more buzz. The latter has been viewed more than 8.1 million times on YouTube since Monday. "Greatness Awaits" has been viewed more than 460,000 times.
In the instructional video, Sony Computer Entertainment president Shuhei Yoshida hands a PS4 game to VP-publisher and developer relations Adam Boyes, thus demonstrating how easy it is to share PS4 games compared with Xbox One games.
"That was created by the team just to give a point of view on used games from us," Mr. Longworth said. "That was kind of a tactical thing."
Mr. Longworth is adamant about PlayStation telling its own story and not mentioning Xbox in any PS4 marketing. But he doesn't have to name Xbox to get his point across: PS4 is tailored for the gaming community, while Xbox, in contrast, is about everyone else.