Sony’s 2018 First-Party Titles are Being Hurt by Poor Marketing

Throughout the year, gaming conventions offer a great opportunity for publishers to unveil and highlight their upcoming lineup for the months ahead. While these anticipated events are often few and far between, each one presents a unique opportunity to showcase the titles fan should keep an eye on, and choosing which games to focus on can often be an overwhelming task. Fans’ desires will rarely line up with the actual schedule for a game’s development and ultimate release, leading to lengthy periods of radio silence followed by a disproportionate amount of details to share that can coincide with equally intriguing releases at the same time. This balancing act is a constant struggle to maintain, particularly due to the unpredictable nature of game development, leading to the inevitable outcome that certain press conferences will prove to be less memorable than others due to the availability of news and announcements.

Over the past few years, Sony has been able to maintain a consistent level of expectations for fans to set for themselves, with E3 and PSX being the two standouts to look forward to for the biggest announcements and updates, and smaller news pieces being shuffled in throughout the year. After a couple of noteworthy E3s, Sony’s middling press conference at this year’s event left a lot of fans underwhelmed and anxious for more. In a moment of seeming panic, Sony set forth a chain of events that pushed forward a few of their key PSX announcements, including the reveal of Sucker Punch’s Ghost of Tsushima, up to the Paris Games Week press conference, an event that, in the past, had rarely been used for major reveals such as those. Teased as the “second half of E3”, the Paris Games Week presser, while distinctly more filled with new trailers, also ended up being fairly standard and middling, leaving fans to wonder what Sony had left up their sleeves for PSX.

At last week’s opening presser, despite the low expectations Sony had set for fans, the publisher still managed to fall below them, with only a handful of new demos and teasers to satiate an increasingly ravenous group of players after the past few disappointing months. Even seemingly obvious reveals, such as a God of War or Detroit: Become Human release date, or any footage whatsoever for Spider-Man, Ghost of Tsushima, or The Last of Us: Part II, were inexplicably left out, as fans were forced to sit through over two hours of developer interviews and several trailers that were debuted earlier this year, including the night before at the more hypeworthy Game Awards. While this series of events would be more excusable if Sony’s 2018 lineup was relatively empty, their inability to capitalize on their packed lineup for 2018, one that arguably stands head and shoulders above the other big two in gaming at this point in time, is jaw-dropping, with no release dates for any of their seven big first-party titles slated for next year, despite several supposedly expected to arrive sometime in the next six months.

While these bizarre choices to keep certain games longer in the dark than others could be interpreted as Sony having faith in their first-parties to be big sellers without any additional marketing above and beyond the necessary, it instead tends to come across as ignorance at the clear bounty Sony has at their disposal. Fortunately, Sony’s mistakes during the past year have the luxury of being labeled as an “off-year” and can be completely disregarded as Sony continues to make plans for the next year in marketing. If Sony can reinstate a focus on E3 and PSX being the dates for fans to salivate at, and making sure their first-party titles can present something substantial in-between these six month gaps in at least one of the two events, as Sony has proven they can over the past few years, the publisher can return to being the giant to topple at some of the year’s biggest industry events.