Sony Celebrates its Two-Year Anniversary for Online Gaming
News so extensive, we had to post it in black/white (no, not really)
by | August 27, 2004
Sony Computer Entertainment America Inc. introduced PlayStation(R)2 online console gaming to the masses, pioneering the new frontier of the interactive gaming experience. Forging this new growth area within the industry and setting an example to follow, the company is now poised to bring even more consumers online through compelling first and third party content this holiday season.
With the largest and most loyal installed base at more than 27 million, or one out of every four U.S. households, Sony Computer Entertainment America is best positioned to bring online console gaming to the mass market, and envisions the online arena as one that should be open to and enjoyed by all. PlayStation 2 is the only online offering on the market that offers both analog and broadband connectivity -- a strategy that continues to pay off with more than 38 percent of consumers still playing via their dial-up connection. With a registered online user base in North America of more than 1.4 million, consumers have cast their vote for PlayStation 2 online, and continue to thirst for this new compelling experience that takes gaming to a whole new level. Just two years after its launch, the company has built the largest online console gaming community, and continues to add 1,400 new registered users each day, and up to 50,000 each month, equivalent to a sell-out crowd at a Major League Baseball game.
Consumers Crave Online Console Gaming Experience
Growing demand for the online console gaming experience has created a whole new audience. Who are these gamers? More than 90 percent are male, ages 18-34, with peak registrations and online gameplay taking place between 5:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m., key TV prime-time viewing hours and an interesting trend to watch heading into the new fall TV viewing season. According to an IDC/GameSpy Study, 53 percent of PlayStation 2 online gamers said online capabilities were a very important factor in their decision to purchase games (Q403 Gamer Survey: Online Console Gaming, IDC #30881, March 2004). According to a Ziff-Davis media survey of U.S. videogamers, when asked how they play games online, 9 percent of respondents stated that they play via PlayStation 2 versus 6 percent for Xbox, and that number doubles for hard-core gamers at 18 percent. Gamers logon to PlayStation 2 online to experience a new level of competition and camaraderie.
Compelling Online Content is Key to Driving Consumer Adoption
Sony Computer Entertainment America has proven over the past 10 years that compelling content drives the market. The company has seamlessly carried this philosophy into online console gaming as demonstrated by introducing platform-defining franchises, and bringing online capabilities to more than 60 percent of first party titles launching in 2004. The company's SOCOM franchise has become the most popular online title for PlayStation 2, and is logging more player hours daily than ALL Xbox titles worldwide. Even nine months after launch, SOCOM II: U.S. Navy SEALs is still seeing more than 30,000 simultaneous users per day, far and away more than any other console title -- evidence that online capabilities extends the life of a game.
"Two years ago, we paved the way by taking creative risks for the industry to follow," said Andrew House, executive vice president, Sony Computer Entertainment America. "Going into year three, we will continue to innovate through our online content offerings, and will embark on a series of initiatives that include enhanced community building and moving toward the monetization of the online initiative."
Another key factor to the success of PlayStation 2 online is the broad third party publisher support. At the time of launch, a selection of Electronic Arts' EA SPORTS franchises were exclusively available online for PlayStation 2, giving consumers the opportunity to play these popular sports franchises online in the comfort of their living rooms. Today, the EA library for PlayStation 2 online includes not only top sports franchises, but other genres including action adventure, racing, and more. This holiday, EA will launch a fresh new batch of online titles for PlayStation 2 including: Need for Speed(TM) Underground 2, NASCAR: Chase For the Cup 2005, Tiger Woods PGA TOUR(TM) 2005, NCAA March Madness(TM) 2005, NBA Live 2005 and Lord of the Rings(TM): The Third Age(TM).
"As long time partners of Sony Computer Entertainment America, it was natural for us to work exclusively with them during the launch timeframe for PlayStation 2 online. To date, we have launched more online-enabled titles for PlayStation 2 than on any other console," said Chip Lange, Vice President EA Nation for Electronic Arts. "We believe that the investment we are making in online will pay off as we head into the future, and we've already seen the benefits; online elements extend the value-proposition of a game for consumers, as well as the life of the game itself."
The Madden NFL Football franchise from Electronic Arts has driven mass-market consumers to PlayStation 2 online. Madden NFL 2004 sold more than 3 million units on PlayStation 2 alone, more than any other console, and has inspired the largest third party online community. With the recent launch of Madden NFL 2005, which sold 1.3 million copies in its first week of release, EA expects to see even more consumers logging-on to experience real-time football gameplay than ever before.
Holiday 2004 Brings Fresh Wave of PlayStation 2 Online Options
Holiday is traditionally a key selling season in the videogame industry, and 2004 boasts a large line-up of blockbuster hits. With an already diverse line-up of online enabled titles spanning top genres, including action, sports, racing and role-playing games, consumers will be faced with an even broader array of compelling online titles to choose from, with more than 120 online-enabled titles available by year-end.
In November, Sony Computer Entertainment America will deliver online gameplay for the first time in an action platform game with Ratchet & Clank(R): Up Your Arsenal, the highly anticipated third installment of the Ratchet & Clank franchise. This holiday season also marks the debut of Gran Turismo(TM) 4, the fourth installment of the worldwide blockbuster-selling Gran Turismo series, for the first time featuring an online mode, sure to bring the most authentic driving simulation experience to a whole new level. Additional first party online offerings this holiday season include Killzone(TM) and Hot Shots Golf(R) FORE! With this fresh new line-up of online-enabled software titles, Sony Computer Entertainment America anticipates a surge in online activity over the holidays.
The Future's so Bright...
Analysts anticipate the online console game market to continue to expand. DFC Intelligence forecasts online console game revenue to reach $2.9 billion worldwide by 2009 (The Online Game Market 2004), and JupiterResearch believes that connected console revenues will outpace PC revenue by nearly $100 million in that same year (March 2004 "US Video Games Forecast 2004).
"More than ever, gamers prefer the thrill of networking player to player competition over player versus console," said Richard Doherty, Envisioneering. "Online capability is no longer a feature, it is the future of gaming. "
In the coming year, Sony Computer Entertainment America plans to make a series of announcements regarding new content extensions, the evolving business model of online console gaming, and how online gaming as the new frontier fits into the long-term strategy for the PlayStation platforms.
Source: PRN Newswire