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HIVE EXCLUSIVE: Sony Marketing to Tout PS One and PlayStation 2

5 Sep, 2001 By: John Gaudiosi

Sony is unleashing a large holiday marketing push this month with diverging campaigns for PS One and PlayStation 2.

PS One has a U.S. installed base of more than 30 million units and PlayStation 2 is expected to reach 5.2 million units sold by Christmas, according to the International Development Group (IDG). After supply shortages with both PS one and PS2 last year, Sony is hoping to capitalize on the abundance of hardware and software for both systems.

The PS One campaign will be the largest since 1998 and will alert the mass market to the $99 price point of the hardware and the availability of hundreds of under-$20 “Greatest Hits” games. Also a focus of the campaign are the new compact size of the system and the LCD screen's portable feature for cars and travel that allows consumers “to take PS One anywhere with you.”

Sony will target every form of mass media with its PS One campaign, including approximately 30 print magazines and a national cinema advertising campaign. The TV advertising campaign will include spots for the hardware, first-party games and co-marketing with third-party publishers, national cinema advertising campaign and marketing in the top 10 markets.

“We're entering uncharted territory with PS One, which just entered the sixth year of its life cycle,” says Andrew House, executive v.p., Sony Computer Entertainment America. “We believe that there's still a large audience out there that hasn't tried gaming before that will find PS One a good introduction. PS One has always been at the forefront of pushing gaming in a more mass market direction.”

Sony will not be reducing the price of the PS One or PS2 this year, although analysts expect price cuts on both systems next year. House expects PS2 sales to continue to drive the next-generation market place. He sees the DVD movie playback remaining an important draw for consumers, who can look at the PS2 as a broader entertainment device than just a game machine.

House expects the DVD functions of the PS2 to become more prominent this fall, as many PS2 games begin to add extra-value features like making-of documentaries and other extras to the discs. He also sees the PS2-specific Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within DVD that Square Pictures is developing for next year as the beginning of a new market for DVD movie studios, should they decide to create movies on proprietary PS2 discs that would only play on PS2. This would open up the possibility of playable PS2 game demos and allow DVD creators to make use of the system's processing power.

“With an installed base of more than 10 million PS2s next year, it starts to become a viable proposition,” House says. “The key is to make it clear to consumers that the movie is formatted for PS2 and would not play in a standard player.”

Sony will focus on software in its PS2 marketing this year. “Sony's PS2 campaign will evolve from last year's hardware promise and brand personality campaign to this year's great games and experiences that deliver on that promise,” House says.

Sony will unleash nine software marketing campaigns between now and the end of the year, two-thirds of which will include TV advertising. A direct-mail campaign will help promote PS2's hottest fall games. In addition to a renewed focus on its best-selling Gran Turismo 3 and Twisted Metal Black games, Sony will have big pushes for NFL GameDay 2002, the futuristic racing game Kinetica, and the latest adventure from the creators of Crash Bandicoot, Jak and Dexter.

Sony will also co-market with third-party publishers exclusive fall 2001 PS2 games like Eidos' Soul Reaver 2, Capcom's Devil May Cry and Konami's Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty.

House says Sony will focus on marketing the PS2's online capabilities to gaming enthusiasts when it launches this winter. He would not confirm an actual launch date or even quarter, answering “winter,” when asked if Sony would have its online games available by this fourth quarter.

“Enthusiast gamers will be the first to experiment and play online games,” House says. “Later on, our alliance with AOL makes a broader audience possible.”

In addition to AOL's instant messaging and chat features, Sony announced partnerships with Real Networks, Macromedia and Cisco Systems at E3, which will give PS2 owners the ability to receive streaming video, audio and animations from the Internet.

At E3, Sony announced that it will begin selling a Network Adaptor in November for $39.99, enabling PS2 owners to play games online. Sony also confirmed that it will sell a 40 gigabyte hard drive, but has yet to give a price. Sources in the gaming industry believe that Sony will package a strong game with each of these peripherals, possibly Twisted Metal Online for the network adaptor and Sierra's Tribes for the hard drive, to entice gamers to buy these add-ons. Online games in development for PS2 include Activision's Tony Hawk Pro Skater 3, Sierra's Tribes and Sony's Frequency and SOCOM: U.S. Navy SEALs.

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