Some quick thoughts on PS4 launch day

I was unplugged for much of this week, going on a field trip to Bainbridge Island’s science-study reserve Islandwood with about 150 sixth graders.  While it was a week of disconnecting, I found that sixth graders, like many of us adults, still find time to talk about our connected world even when they’re getting some digital downtime.

And what were they talking about? The PlayStation 4!  That’s right, after the last six or seven years when it seemed like the Xbox 360 really became the console of choice for many kids, it seems like the early excitement – at least for this group of sixth graders-  is high for the PS4.

And so on launch day, here are a couple quick thoughts about this new console generation:

  • Unlike last time around, Sony isn’t the incumbent and isn’t acting like it. That makes a huge difference. They have felt hungry and motivated so far, and it shows. They’ve made a very compelling console.
  • Microsoft, on the other hand, has come off a bit like Sony did last time. That said, I don’t think there are significant structural issues that need to be overcome from a competitive standpoint, mostly just pricing and messaging.
  • Speaking of pricing: The big reason the sixth graders were talking up the PS4 was that it seemed, I sense, a more realistic option for them at $400. First year console sales before a price reduction are largely limited to the hardcore fans and high-discretionary income types, but $500 seems like a lot bigger number than $400. Optics.
  • It’s a bit sad how little a part of the conversation Nintendo is this go-around. The numbers are bad, even after a price cut, and I’m hoping they can gain some momentum this holiday season (though I’m skeptical).

And lastly…

  • Kids nowadays are smart. I mean it. These kids I was around this week were talking about how this will be the last console generation (future analysts!). And what were they pointing to as the future? The Steambox.