Has Sony Been Intentionally Misleading Consumers and Investors About PlayStation 4's Software Release Schedule?

Source: PlayStation.com

The PlayStation 4's game lineup for the year just took a big hit. The Order: 1866 from developer Ready at Dawn had been positioned as one of the new console's defining 2014 games, but a recent announcement has shifted the title to a 2015 release. While the game's delay is not exactly shocking, the release pushback is the latest in a run that have hit the console. In fact, delays of major PS4 titles have become so common that it's worth wondering whether their respective initial release dates were ever targeted as realistic possibilities. Has Sony (NYSE: SNE  ) been intentionally misleading about the PS4's lineup as a way to build hype and interest in the system?

Sony talked a big game, but has yet to deliver
Sony is showing clear weakness on the first-party development front. What's more, the frequent delays for its console's biggest exclusives give reason to view plans for future releases with a suspect eye. When the company first explained its transition from free to paid online service, representatives were quick to point to the fact that PlayStation Plus subscribers would receive an almost full version of the upcoming racer Driveclub at no additional cost. The game was originally stated to be a launch title for PS4, but was delayed to an early 2014 date.

Prospective consumers were reassured that they would still have access to a downloadable version of the game that had most of the content. However, when Driveclub's new October release date was announced, the story had changed. PlayStation Plus subscribers will now be able to download what essentially amounts to a sizable demo of the game.

Source: PlayStation.com

Hype sells games, consoles, and online services
Sony over-promised with the PlayStation Plus version of Driveclub, relative to what it will eventually deliver, and it's easy to see why. When PlayStation 4 was first unveiled, one of the chief criticisms levied against the new platform was that online play would now require a paid subscription.

Flashback to before the PlayStation 4's explosive sales debut, and Sony had a lot to be uncertain about. Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT  ) Xbox Live had been substantially more successful than the PlayStation Network in the previous generation, and a thriving online service was even more central to winning the current console competition. A "free" game with triple-A production values stood as a great incentive to get early adopters to join Sony's online ecosystem. While the product has yet to arrive, the promise was somewhat effective.

The same delay problem is evident in Japan
The PlayStation 4's Japanese launch suffered from a similar delay problem. When Sony's newest console was first unveiled, by far its most impressive graphical showcase was Capcom's Deep Down. The free-to-play title was originally slated for release this past February, but it no longer has a firm release date. Unfortunately for Sony, the game is one of the few PS4 titles with the chance to spur Japanese interest in the system. The title's lengthy delay has become part of a suspicious trend.

Out of order
The news that The Order: 1866 had slipped to a 2015 release offered little in the way of shock value. The game's first showings prompted speculation that the title was too early in development to make its 2014 holiday release date. Given the degree of access Sony has to its first-party development projects, it's hard to believe that the company thought the title was on track for release this year. The game's absence points to a fairly weak lineup of exclusives for 2014.

The PlayStation 4 will receive the best console version of many of the year's biggest multi-platform releases, but right now, Driveclub looks to stand as the title's only big exclusive for the year. Considering key departures from premier developer Naughty Dog, plus layoffs and project cancellations at Santa Monica Studios, the are real reasons to be worried about Sony's first-party output in this hardware cycle.

Sony coming up short is an opportunity for Microsoft
Sony will probably pad out its PS4 lineup for the rest of the year with indie titles, many of which will be shown at June's E3 gaming expo. That said, Microsoft looks to enjoy a window of opportunity to regain some mind share and favorable consumer sentiment. It's still uncertain whether Xbox One exclusive Quantum Break will release in this calendar year, but Sunset Overdrive from Insomniac Games has the potential to make a splash. A remade version of Halo 2 and a Halo HD collection have been heavily rumored for a 2014 release. If Microsoft's Xbox One is to catch up to the PlayStation 4, this holiday season will be a key proving ground.

Source: Xbox.com

Has Sony been sneaky?
It's difficult to chalk three of PS4's biggest exclusive games being so substantially delayed up to coincidence. Early adopters aren't just shelling out cash for the hardware -- what they are really buying into is access to content and the promise of things to come. Sony's promising and repromising has the appearance of strategy.

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Read/Post Comments (20) | Recommend This Article (8)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On June 01, 2014, at 11:31 AM, JustinX87 wrote:

    How much is Microsoft paying you to write this garbage? Quantum Break was delayed to next year. You can apply everything you wrote about Sony to Microsoft as well. Sony has a better track record with exclusives than MS does, so they'll come.

  • Report this Comment On June 01, 2014, at 11:35 AM, utazdevl wrote:

    You know, typically headlining statements of a company "Intentionally Misleading Consumers" would accompanied by some form of proof that said company had knowledge of one thing, but directly stated something else to its buyers. The closest this article comes to saying Sony knew its games would be delayed (yet still told buyers they would be on time) is "it's hard to believe that the company thought the title was on track for release this year"

    I think, if anything, Motley Fool is the company misleading its consumers by writing baseless headlines followed by articles with absolutely no proof of what their headlines say.

  • Report this Comment On June 01, 2014, at 11:40 AM, keithnoonan wrote:

    As a note, Quantum Break has been delayed into 2015. I think it's fair to level the same charges of being intentionally misleading at Microsoft.

  • Report this Comment On June 01, 2014, at 11:44 AM, URALLFOOLS wrote:

    Sony Defense Force is out in full.... umm force...

  • Report this Comment On June 01, 2014, at 12:09 PM, beefsupreme65 wrote:

    Bioshock Infinite was pushed back multiple times and ended up being a year and a half late. Fact is games get pushed back all the time. Other recent games that have been pushed back: The evil within, Dying Light, Watch Dogs, WWE 2K15, Titanfall (for 360), Killer is Dead, Dark Souls 2 (for PC), Mad Max, Kingdom Hearts 3, and there's rumors of Batman: Arkham Knight being pushed back.

  • Report this Comment On June 01, 2014, at 12:14 PM, sawthat wrote:

    Guys, MF owns Microsoft stocks (see above). Mega-corporation have a code of business conduct to adhere to, and these are required to be taken by all. This article makes me wonder if MF is even aware of such a thing.

  • Report this Comment On June 01, 2014, at 12:53 PM, JaredM80 wrote:

    "Sony Defense Force is out in full.... umm force" don't even act as if your fellow Microsoft Defense Force members don't try to make excuses for MS.

  • Report this Comment On June 01, 2014, at 1:06 PM, awang0718 wrote:

    Sony is not misleading anyone. Sony told everyone that Driveclub andThe Order had been delayed. That is not misleading anyone. That is telling the truth. Plain and simple.

    BTW Quantum Break was confirmed to come out next year. Same for Halo 5. So Microsoft will need to show off something else.

    Oh, and the rumored Halo Trilogy HD isn't exactly going to spur huge sales. An HD collection of older games usually never does.

  • Report this Comment On June 01, 2014, at 1:14 PM, rrjim1 wrote:

    Great, we now just get a demo of Drive club, misleading = a big YES! Were has MS done this?

    Sony always announces game real early, MS does not! Halo 5 was never announced for 2014, it was just announced period.

  • Report this Comment On June 01, 2014, at 1:49 PM, Porter wrote:

    Yes, let us be disgruntled at Sony for waiting to release a complete and bug free as possible product to consumers. Unlike companies such as EA releasing a broken Battlefield 4. Also, hopefully the delays will create a unique and fresh gaming experience unlike Microsoft releasing another Dead Rising, a racing game and a gorgeous but rudimentary hack and slash with Ryse. I am able to wait as long as the payout is worth it, and not just the same old stuff in a different setting.

  • Report this Comment On June 01, 2014, at 2:51 PM, Keegs79 wrote:

    You amuse but your the one that seems the need for education.

    Video games get delayed constantly. Deep Down isn't made or published by Sony. So they are not misleading at that title.

    Your not sure about Quantum Break? It had been officially delayed "before" this article. Heard of researching?

    Lastly, Sony hasn't showed off its big titles because they have no need to when they are outselling the XB1 by a large margin. All of Sony's studios are making games. Sony's layoffs only effected Sony Santa Monica and that is after canceling a game. They are still developing games. I see this article trying to make something out of nothing. Good try but some of us are not gullible.

  • Report this Comment On June 01, 2014, at 3:00 PM, keithnoonan wrote:

    @Keegs79

    The Quantum Break delay had not been announced when this article was written and first slotted for publication. I posted a comment noting the delay shortly after the article went up for that reason.

  • Report this Comment On June 01, 2014, at 4:29 PM, Nightrob wrote:

    I think fan-boys have to realize Sony is no different than MS. They are a publicly owned company out for profit first and foremost. They will sometimes say and do things to appease shareholders before consumers. Neither is evil or good... they simply are what they are.

  • Report this Comment On June 01, 2014, at 5:17 PM, Zeebee51 wrote:

    Why do Sony defenders use Quantum Break as an example of a game delay when no release date was ever given ? If you are going to argue a point at least find a proper example.

  • Report this Comment On June 01, 2014, at 6:16 PM, moopert wrote:

    Big name games get delayed all the time. It ensures the consumer gets the best product possible. Motley Fool's gaming coverage is nothing but rabble rousing.

  • Report this Comment On June 01, 2014, at 6:22 PM, mitch079 wrote:

    Noonan! Noonan!

    This guy makes Mattera look competent.

  • Report this Comment On June 01, 2014, at 7:03 PM, truegamer wrote:

    Even if the article was written before the date it was published on 6/1/2014 and Quantum break was canceled you should put it in the article and not make it a comment. Update the article and say the same crap about Microsoft

    This site is so full of crap... keep the console wars going...

  • Report this Comment On June 01, 2014, at 7:50 PM, AudieMurphy wrote:

    C'mon, they are both guilty of this, it's just hilarious that when Sony is actually called out on something the reaction is like he berated Jesus. They're both like politicians, massaging the truth every chance they get. On the subject of perfecting a game I'm going to squeeze in a few Mario Kart races before dinner.

  • Report this Comment On June 01, 2014, at 10:04 PM, kensal wrote:

    no surprise they've been misleading gamers since they announced the machine...hardly any exclusive 'next gen' titles have turned up and its been over a year since the machine was announced yet Sony gamers are still falling for it.

  • Report this Comment On June 01, 2014, at 10:13 PM, Bunnyking77 wrote:

    For me the only Generation 8 console to deliver is Nintendo. Everyone else is a joke. Sales wise the PS4 is king and I do like it over the less powerful and underperforming XBoxOne.

    But most of my gaming is done on a Wii U and PS3 with the PSN+ subscription which is Epic.

    Right now next gen gaming amounts to indies and a few mediocre "triple AAA" titles if you can call Battlefield 4 triple AAA without a bug jumping out of the screen and hitting your over the head with a gamebreaking glitch.

    What's out on the Next Gen right now amounts to hype, hype and more hype.

    If you like the XBOXone, cool, just don't say it's better than one system or another because right now the best system game-wise is the Wii U.

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