Can Sony capture Nintendo's lost casual market?

  • Posted February 5th, 2014 at 17:41 EDT by Anthony Chambers

In a recent interview with Trusted Reviews, Sony U.K. Managing Director Fergal Gara stated that Sony “...need to bring maybe more family-friendly, more casual experiences into the market. I think there’s a big market segment there that we should take the challenge to engage and I see lots of potential to do that.”

This quote came on the heels of Nintendo reporting a loss of over $15 million in its third quarter financial report. Nintendo’s stock has also tanked, which likely correlates with 9.5 million shares sold by the founding Yamauchi family back to Nintendo.

Gara also told Trusted Reviews that "[The decline of Nintendo] could be detrimental to the market, unless people like us raise our game and help tap into the younger consumer group that they serve rather well.”

The inclusion of Knack as a PS4 launch title supports Gara’s statements regarding family-friendly, casual games. Knack has sold about 500,000 units globally, with PS4 primed to reach 5 million units globally in the near future. Half a million in sales is nothing to sneeze at, but an overview of Sony’s recent family-friendly games clearly illustrates they have room for improvement. Last fall's Puppeteer has sold 160,000 retail copies to date. February 2013's Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time has sold 390,000, with almost 70 percent of its lifetime sales coming from North America. Ratchet and Clank: Into The Nexus has also sold 390,000, as well, but the franchise typically sells poorly in Japan. All these numbers pale in comparison to the 81 million PS3 systems sold worldwide.

Still, at least three games in the top 50 best-selling PS3 games are family-friendly: LittleBigPlanet, LittleBigPlanet 2, and Sports Champions, which was bundled with PlayStation Move. This excludes sports games, with versions of FIFA Soccer being the only sports titles to crack the top 50. It's evident that family-friendly games, first- or third-party, do not sell particularly well on Sony systems.

And yet, the market's there--Sony just needs the right kinds of games to fill it. In order to capitalize on Nintendo’s mishaps and engage with the "big target audience" left in its wake, Sony needs big guns. But what names and franchises qualify? We’ve all heard rumors about Crash Bandicoot, and other old favorites like PaRappa and Jak & Daxter abound, but how many of us would buy them today? Have our interests matured alongside a triple-A industry that, for the most part, doesn't care about the casual, family-friendly experience?

Outings such as LittleBigPlanet Karting and PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale are quality games, but the market Nintendo's leaving behind hasn't yet responded to Sony's sincerest efforts. But with the true demise of Nintendo as a manufacturer rather unlikely, neither Mario nor any other Nintendo mascot will be seen on a rival device (with the potential exception of smartphones and tablets) in the near future. The onus falls on Sony to capture the casual market--but nothing they've tried in recent years has come close.

Readers: Do you think Sony can produce a million-selling, family friendly game? Should they ignore what Fergal Gara calls a "big market segment" and stick with what they've been doing--pleasing enthusiast gamers? We’d love to hear your thoughts, so drop a comment below and join the conversation.

[All sales data via vgchartz.com]

 

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Anthony Chambers is a Staff Writer for PSU. When he's not obsessively reading about video games and playing them, he is producing short films. You can keep up with his random musings on Twitter at @hey_chambers.
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