Sony's Real Test Will Be After The PlayStation 4 Launch

| About: Sony Corporation (SNE)

In case if you believe the media hoopla, then Sony (NYSE:SNE) is going to be unveiling the next PlayStation titled PS4 in just a couple of weeks. The company has offered a latest teaser trailer of sorts on the PlayStation Blog, and it suggests that the next PlayStation will be introduced on February 20. That's just a few weeks away, so the PlayStation 4 could be nearer than some believe. I mentioned the impending PS4 launch in my last article, and how the recent news from China regarding lifting of console ban would be a good catalyst for PS4 after the launch.

The invitation post on the PlayStation Blog is short on specifics, but the title does invite us to "See the Future." Just like all good teasers, Sony doesn't give away much either. All we can spot are the classic PlayStation symbols and the February 20, 2013 date at the end. Obviously, we can't be sure of Sony's motives, but it definitely appears that the company is gearing up to announce its next gaming console.

This launch will be taking place at 6PM EST on the February 20, and if Sony intends to use it to uncover the PlayStation 4, it'll probably be getting a jump start on Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT). The Xbox maker has been just as secretive with regards to its future next console, but the latest gossips suggest Microsoft will reveal the next Xbox at the Expo in June, meaning that Sony could have a few months on Microsoft if it decides to go all-in on February 20.

The story of a brand new console is beneficial for Sony, but when the party will be over and the launch has been made, Sony will encounter the real trial of making the next PlayStation successful in the new generation. It'll have to start from the scratch, as other rivals in the console space are releasing new machines as well, so the platform competition will begin all over again. Sony did a lot of great new things with the PS3, nevertheless, in order to make the PS4 a striking success, it'll have to ramp it up in a few fields.

Most notably, Sony should get even more serious about getting exclusive content for the PS4. During the entire period since its launch in March 2007, Sony has provided some exceptional exclusives to PS3 players. Microsoft likewise had some rich quality exclusives for the Xbox 360 throughout most of the console's lifetime, but nowadays, it would appear that the company prefers limited time exclusive downloadable content or DLC deals. Though beneficial, timed-exclusive DLC is an inadequate alternative for exclusive full games.

Therefore, Sony should ensure that it incorporates PS4 with a strong exclusive games collection. It needs to go out shopping, find best titles, and then scoop them up to make those games exclusive to PS4. If it can deliver many exclusive game titles, that will drive consumers to the console, particularly when it's still in the early days following the launch. For instance, a lot of people purchased a PS3 so they could enjoy the US release of Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch. It's hard for game enthusiasts to resist the tempting appeal of a really awesome looking game. Games such as this that avid players can't find any place else, will always draw more consumers than useless technical specs.

Sony also must realize when a franchise should be discontinued. God of War: Ascension appeared like a God of War title no one wanted to play, while many of Ratchet and Clank games released in this generation were far low in quality from the Ratchet and Clank games of the PS2 era. Rather than spending cash into franchises that could use a rest, Sony could take that money and deploy it in exclusive titles from promising third-parties, or it could even take a chance and self-produce some new franchises of its own. The enticement to keep profiting from a franchise with a dedicated fanbase is obviously great, but by releasing title after title, you end up alienating players who have fond reminiscences with the series. Regrettably, many of those won't be coming back when it has finally worked out how to bring something fresh and exciting to the franchise.

Sony should also check out the Japanese games more regularly for the next generation. Currently, there is a lot of curiosity about Japanese games: Persona, Xenoblade, The Last Story, Pandora's Tower and obviously Ni No Kuni, every one of them have been sprouting up throughout the U.S. This also gives Sony an edge over Microsoft, as Japanese programmers aren't creating too many titles for the Xbox 360. Till Microsoft understands how to successfully undertake the Japanese market, Sony will be left with a deluge of unique and exciting Japanese titles for its own console.

Sony should also focus on Indies in the next generation. PSN is already an excellent destination to locate Indie games, nonetheless, they tend to be pretty much on par with the choices at Xbox Live. It needs to improve that with the PS4. Sony must work on capturing a bigger share of Indie games. It needs to create PSN a destination, where it can attempt new and different things. Sony is already performing much better than Microsoft in the online market area, but I'd like to see it take even more risks with PSN down the road.

More than anything else, Sony should admit when things are not working in its favor. When you introduce a device like Move or PS Vita and it doesn't do well, the proper plan of action is not to pretend everything is okay. Move is no doubt a cool peripheral, and when compared with other motion control peripherals, I think it has the Nintendo's Wii remote and Xbox's Kinect beat. Nevertheless, that doesn't make much a difference when there aren't any games for it. The same holds true for the PS Vita. It's an outstanding portable device, yet, it's not doing well, as no one's purchasing it and no one's making games for it.

Consequently, Sony needs to get more innovative and shake things up a bit. If things go down, staying the course doesn't help. If something isn't working with the PS4, Sony can't just completely abandon that issue and hope it gets better on the promise of cool things to come. I'm not totally sure how you fix the down sides of the Vita, but I'm sure that Sony's present strategy for coping with these issues isn't working. It shouldn't let that happen with the much awaited PS4. To put it succinctly:

Sony's Real Test Will Begin After The Launch Of PS4.

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.