Sony’s Move into Social Gaming – What Does it Mean?

Mark Stephens

Sony’s recent announcement that the next generation PS4, to be unveiled later this year, will allow sharing of the game experience on social networks, is another sign that the “social” part of gaming is becoming king.

Until now, the experience of playing social games on Facebook on your PC, or via apps for the iphone, iPad or Android devices, has been considered quite separate from the console experience offered by the likes of Sony and Nintendo.

Is that about to change, with Sony’s long-awaited announcement?


The Share Button

Sony is introducing a ‘Share’ button on its controller that allows you to easily show off your game achievements to all your friends on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.

A partnership with UStream also allows players to stream, record and upload their gaming. It also has the function for other players you connect with to take over and help you out on a part of the game you become stuck on.

There will also be profile pages for users and the ability to follow friends’ games in real time with integrated chat.

Social networks are where people are hanging out these days, so isn’t Sony really just going with the flow, by allowing their users to add their console gaming experience to all the other things they share – videos, photos, articles etc etc?

In any case, a meeting of two worlds seems to be happening.

Console Gamer Meets Social Gamer

Many console gamers have typically seen themselves as a breed apart from the average social gamer. These ‘serious’ gamers, who maybe owned one of the original Playstations or Xboxes, apparently have little in common with a forty-something working mother who is the average social gamer on Facebook.

Perhaps that’s about to change as the two worlds meet. Or will it?

Do console gamers actually play social games on Facebook? When they hit a new high score or achieve something great on their favourite console game, do they long for the world to know? Or do they just want to brag to their deadly rivals and co-gameplayers?

Of course there is already a social element to online multiplayer games on consoles, but is there a dying urge to share the experience beyond the tight game circle that exists with these games?

Sharing it on the social networks is all well and good, but from personal experience, it’s pretty annoying for 95% or more of your ‘friends’ who don’t actually play the same game, and couldn’t care less what your high score is.

At least, that’s what I was thinking…but is it backed up by any stats?

What the Stats Say

67% of people who play social games also play video games, and some of the biggest console games like Fifa 13 and Call of Duty have a very strong following on YouTube and other social media platforms.

Sony is banking on the separation of the social gamer and their standard console gamer not being as clear-cut as many of us thought – and it seems there is actually a lot of crossover.

The interaction element is very important to social gamers, with almost half saying that it is a major attraction of the gaming experience.

The success of the PS4 may hinge on whether the ‘pull’ of the social interaction element is strong enough to convince the 57 million PS3 users to fork out several hundred dollars to upgrade to the new console, mainly for the ability to share their game experiences more widely.