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Four Examples of Sony’s Recent Anti-Consumer Practices

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Sony Anti-Consumer Practices

With success always comes the ebb and flow of hubris. The total domination of the PlayStation 2 led to Sony openly telling their customers to get a second job to be able to afford the absurdly expensive $600 PlayStation 3. Microsoft struck gold with the Xbox 360 which eventually resulted in the infamous “TV TV TV” conference. And as it always does, the success of the PS4 has brought cocky Sony back from the dead and if the Gran Turismo 7 debacle is a sign of things to come, they’re cockier than ever. The days of “this is how you share your games on PS4” are over. Since the reveal of the PlayStation 5 Sony has repeatedly demonstrated a concerning propensity for anti-consumer behavior that includes obfuscating the truth, artificially withholding games from huge portions of their audience, and in some cases outright lying. Here are five times Sony has employed anti-consumer practices already this generation.

Spider-Man Miles Morales
Image: Sony

Spider-Man Miles Morales and Horizon Forbidden West

During the hardware reveal event for the PlayStation 5 on June 11th, 2020, Sony brought the heat with the announcement of follow-ups to two of the PS4’s most popular exclusives. At the event that was entirely focused on the then-upcoming PS5, Sony announced both Spider-Man Miles Morales and Horizon Forbidden West would of course be coming to PS5. And considering the announcements occurred at a PS5 showcase, it wasn’t a huge leap in logic for anyone to reasonably deduce that these two major first-party titles would be PS5 exclusives. The way in which these games were presented felt as though that was meant to be the interpretation by the audience. It wasn’t until after the event that some very thorough fans discovered that Sony had also announced PS4 versions of both Miles Morales and Forbidden West several paragraphs into the Japanese version of the PlayStation blog. The fact that the games had been announced at the PS5 showcase with no mention of the PS4 versions anywhere to be found except buried in the Japanese version of the PlayStation blog is at the very least suspect. 

Final Fantasy 16

Just a few months after the PS5 hardware showcase Sony held another event in September of 2020 to showcase upcoming PS5 software. The showcase opened with a compilation of upcoming games and immediately launched into the Final Fantasy 16 reveal trailer. At the end of the trailer the words “PlayStation Console Exclusive” filled the screen. Obviously with the massive popularity of the Final Fantasy series, getting Final Fantasy 16 as a console exclusive would be huge for Sony, but once again, the truth and what Sony would have their audience believe were two very different things. Square Enix would later correct Sony and confirm that the agreement was in fact for timed exclusivity rather than indefinite exclusivity meaning the game would eventually be able to come to other consoles. While there is undeniably an exclusivity agreement between Sony and Square Enix with respect to Final Fantasy 16, Sony’s inclusion of “PlayStation Console Exclusive” in the reveal trailer is an embellishment of reality at best and an outright lie at worst. 

Gran Turismo 7 on Sony PS5

Gran Turismo 7

Upon its announcement and even for months afterward, Gran Turismo 7 was confirmed by Sony to be exclusive to the PS5, even going so far as to feature a “PlayStation 5 Exclusive” watermark in the corner of a GT7 trailer. But after it became clear that the supply chain issues caused by the combination of the Covid-19 pandemic and the crypto boom would be longer-lasting than originally anticipated, plans for the game changed. In early 2021 Sony announced that Gran Turismo 7 would be coming to PS4 as well as PS5. Of these anti-consumer transgressions, this one is obviously both the most understandable and the most forgivable. Ultimately the way in which Sony’s behavior in this context was anti-consumer was in attempting to artificially limit the audience that this game was available to. The fact that the game could be compressed down to be able to run on the PS4 indicates that it could have been developed for the last generation platform from the start. For Sony to even attempt to do this while Microsoft bends over backward to make modern titles available to as much of their audience as possible (see Microsoft Flight Simulator) is extremely telling of the guiding principles at each company. 

Forspoken

Square Enix’s upcoming action-adventure game Forspoken has been shown at nearly as many PlayStation showcases as the PS5 has. And every single time the game has been shown it has been presented as a top-tier third-party exclusive getting similar treatment as games like Kena Bridge of Spirits and Death Stranding. Sony has clearly put effort into making Forspoken appear this way and to great effect as until the most recent trailer I was under the impression that the game would be a PlayStation exclusive indefinitely. But at the end of Forspoken’s most recent trailer, the fine print at the bottom of the screen read “console exclusivity ends 2 years after release date.” While the Gran Turismo 7 move to PS4 was the most understandable, the Forspoken exclusivity seems to be the most above board. Yes, Sony has never explicitly mentioned that the game would be a timed exclusive but they certainly are under no obligation to do so. And the timed exclusivity informational asterisk has been in every previous trailer I have been able to find. So while the general way Sony has treated Forspoken has been slightly misleading in that they have repeatedly given a major spotlight to a third-party game that isn’t even on an indefinite exclusivity deal, technically they haven’t really done anything wrong here. The way Sony has treated Forspoken is more of an indication of the general approach Sony is employing in this generation.

But how do all these examples of Sony’s actions affect the consumer and why should consumers care? Ultimately, whether any given player has pledged their allegiance to PlayStation or Xbox, the corporations behind those products don’t care about the individuals who play their hardware. What Sony and Microsoft are in the market for is money and the way they generate revenue is by convincing the consumer to spend their hard-earned money on either an Xbox or a PlayStation. The way the consumer is convinced is by Sony and Microsoft competing to provide the best product at the most aggressive price and in doing so, the consumer wins. Competition is a good thing and Sony seems to have been putting more effort into appearing as though they are competitive than they have been into actually being competitive. So by not calling this out, we as consumers, lose. 

Right now the actions Sony has taken to obscure reality in an effort to avoid having to compete are admittedly minor. But what they are is a clear demonstration of a willingness to execute plans that are both dishonest and misleading. And that willingness has only been further cemented by the recent Gran Turismo 7 controversy in which Sony completely reworked the in-game economy to incentivize microtransactions after the game had already been showered in glowing reviews. I am certain that even if this behavior continues it isn’t something that anyone but the people who pay extra close attention to the games industry will even notice, but it frustrates me on behalf of consumers everywhere. And while writing an entire article cataloging Sony’s anti-consumer behavior may seem excessive to some, its that pattern that makes me happy with my decision to change my primary platform of play from PS4 to Xbox with the new generation, a decision that was born of an evaluation process I go through with every new batch of consoles. 

News writer and Xbox reviewer. Patrick lives in Minneapolis Minnesota with his wife and their dog Ghost. Patrick studied economics at the University of Northern Colorado and is particularly interested in the market dynamics of the video game industry. When he's not working Patrick can be found walking Ghost through downtown MPLS, binging The West Wing on repeat, or playing hockey. You see everything Patrick does right here on GoombaStomp.com.

7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. Jay

    March 23, 2022 at 5:41 pm

    The pse was the cheapest full featured bluray at the time. This is bad journalism from the start.

    • C

      March 24, 2022 at 8:08 pm

      If you bought a ps3 for it’s Blu-ray player you are a total sucker.

    • David

      April 8, 2022 at 4:07 pm

      Nothing about the PS3 is cheap lol

  2. Eat

    March 24, 2022 at 7:48 pm

    How is continuing to support their last gen console anti-consumer? Do ps4 buyers/owners no longer count as consumers? Is this ps5-owning elitist nonsense?

    • David

      April 8, 2022 at 4:04 pm

      Sony was trashing Xbox for supporting the last generation. Sony was applauded for making “next-gen” games only to do a switch a roo and make them cross gen. Also, how sony made their upgrade paths for recent games is so convuluted, you need a guide to make sure you don’t buy the game twice.

  3. ADRIAN

    April 8, 2022 at 3:17 am

    Microsoft literally puts A vague “console launch exclusive” TEXT on half of the things they reveal from third parties.They did not say that stalker 2 is actually a 3 month timed exclusive.

    • David

      April 8, 2022 at 4:06 pm

      Yes, but the exclusivity is usually not very long. FF7 remake is still not on Xbox. Probably because Sony is throwing money at them. Exclusives are one thing, but how Sony manages timed exclusives in ridiculous.

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