PlayStation Universe

PS3 vs. PS4 packaging: How Sony finally created the perfect box

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on 20 August 2013

When it comes to flogging your latest product, video game consoles, like any piece of expensive electronic kit, need some eye-catching packaging to do the talking. You can be the best TV marketing wizard in the world, but at the end of the day, you’re not going to be the one in shops shouting about why that punter in the corner should fork out for a shiny new PlayStation 4 – the packaging art is. Over the years, Sony has been hit-and-miss in this area, and, as multiple hardware iterations have evolved products like the PS3, so has the packaging itself.

With the launch of PS4 imminent, decided to look back at how Sony has sold its previous-generation console based on the box alone, what it means for consumers, and how PS4 is likely to fare.

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Sony’s early attempts at packing PS3 are pretty barebones. Here, the company gives off a clear view of its chunky games console (this is before the Slim design, remember), blows its Blu-ray trumpet with a nice logo and lets you know how much HD space is under the hood. At this point, there’s not even mention of PlayStation Network or any of the other multi-media features available – it’s just PS3, loud and proud. The colour choice is questionable though: black and white is hardly the most vibrant option available, and chances are back in 2006 if you saw this on your local video game store shelf, you’d probably pass it by.


Three years after launching PS3, Sony decided that its beastly black box was a little on the meaty side, so decided to trim some of the fat. The result? The PlayStation 3 Slim, the first of two hardware revisions that the console would undergo in its lifecycle. Kitted out in a sexy silver background wrapped in a red stripe, the PS3 Slim shines on this cover, resulting in a far more aesthetically-pleasing package. In addition, Sony is now showcasing the PSN logo on the box as its flagship online service continues to grow exponentially. The PS3 logo also shares far greater prominence than previous packaging. Later editions would also feature the 3D logo after Sony trumpeted the feature at E3 2010, again further flexing the console’s technical muscle. Overall, a much better effort then, and a clear indication that Sony is aiming to market its machine as more than just a games device.


The third (and to date, final) iteration of PS3 comes boxed in what is unequivocally the most attractive cardboard you’ll ever clap eyes on. Featuring an eyeball-popping Blue background, Sony is really tapping into PS3 as a console of multiple features, with PSN, Blu-ray, 3D and a meaty 500GB storage capacity all prominently displayed. Furthermore, the iconic circle, square, triangle and cross buttons are displayed stylishly around the shot of the super slim PS3, which is another obvious selling point. Bright, bold and streamlined, PS3 Super Slim can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the best of them.


PS4’s launch box firmly adheres to the template set with the PS3 Super Slim. Here, you have the Blue background once again, this time surrounded by those instantly-recognizable button icons. There’s not much in the way of multi-media advertising though, with only the choice of colour and the 500GB sign displayed proudly alongside a towering photo of the PS4 itself. However, most notable is the DualShock 4. With this latest iteration of the popular peripheral boasting all-new functionality (touchpad and Share), it’s wise that Sony has given it some ample space here to flex its muscles. Crucially, the overall design echoes that of the PlayStation Vita’s, which creates an aesthetic cohesion between both formats – a key marketing decision considering the strong relationship between both formats.