A Date With Sony
Perhaps you’ve seen Sony’s latest advertisement. No, not the one where Kevin Butler lights his new slogan ablaze with a signature no-look flaming crossbow shot. I’m talking about the one that, as rumor will no doubt have it, could be a Playstation Vita teaser trailer.
To the untrained eye, all it really says is that Sony spent some greenbacks to let us know that October 5th, 2011 is important. But as comment threads on Youtube quickly revealed, the commercial, while mysterious, is not as ambiguous as it first appears. I make ads a living and I can tell you that this one kicks a fair amount of serious arse.
Maybe you saw what I saw, or maybe more – and that’s just it. What you see in this piece of marketing depends on how much you know about Sony and their software lineup. Surely you noticed that the main characters are of Resistance fame. No? What about the ever-so-subtle nod to our favorite psychopathic, rocket-launching ice cream truck driver? Did you spot the reference to Little Big Planet on your first watch through? I didn’t. And don’t even get me started on the Kratos cameo—I nearly crapped my pants.
Now, my credibility could take a hit on October 5th for saying so, but this ad’s narrow appeal toward hardcore gamers, particularly Sony fans, leads me to believe it’s not promoting Playstation Vita, or even a related announcement. If this commercial were the first to even tease a new flagship product, it would have a much broader allure. In other words, Sony’s die-hard fans – the ones who will appreciate this type of advertising – don’t need to be convinced to buy a Vita. They’re already sold. In an attempt to make boatloads of cash and also to squash Nintendo, Vita’s eventual marketing blitz is going to pitch a device that is very mainstream and accessible. The current commercial in question is neither. All it’s really got going for it is cool-factor as well as fan boys and girls salivating as if they just got infected with the T-virus.
Whatever Sony is announcing on October 5th, it seems likely to be immediately geared toward loyal PS3 owners. If I had to guess, I’d say it’s a new online gaming service that Sony hopes to pit against Xbox Live. This would seem logical for Sony, if only a bit too late, since Microsoft has long owned the online console gaming category. Other than the fact that it’s about damned time, two pieces of evidence cause me to lean in the direction of some sort of online gaming announcement. One is that the Playstation Network logo is featured on the end title screen. The second comes from Kevin Butler himself. In his latest opus, he referenced a little something called an “access-online-gaming-for-free centrifuge.” Yeah, I think that could classify as dropping a hint.
Of course, it could be something else entirely. I’ll be the first to admit that the announcement of a new online gaming network still wouldn’t explain the appearance of, say, Kratos. I’ve definitely been wrong before, like that time I decided it’d be a good idea to grow a rat tail. Either way, Sony’s got a good number of console gamers, particularly their own fans, by the cajones, which is not a bad thing. It means people are interested. I know I’ll be waiting patiently (or feverishly) for 10-05-2011. If Sony delivers the goods, we’ll stay friends. If they disappoint, we’ll all be gasping at how they actually led us to believe something meaningful was on the way. And that, for better or worse, was the point of the commercial in the first place.