Why PlayStation 4's grassroots approach is a winner among gamers

Al Moseley: president and CCO of 180 Amsterdam
Al Moseley: president and CCO of 180 Amsterdam

You would have to be living under a rock not to know that this month sees the launch of the hotly anticipated PlayStation 4 (PS4), writes Al Moseley, president and CCO of 180 Amsterdam.

At the centre of the buzz is a product that has been five years in development and a business that has very high expectations for its success. And behind that buzz was us – 180 Amsterdam – the agency tasked with launching the hottest console in history. No pressure then. 

The customer is king 

The story starts with PlayStation acknowledging past hardware mistakes and involving the players at every stage in the development of PS4. PlayStation respects the oldest rule of business: the customer – in this instance the player - is king. As Andrew House, president and group CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment, explains: "Our vision for the future is consumer-centric, developer-inspired, and characterized by an unwavering commitment to phenomenal play experiences." 

In today’s ‘bigger, better, more’ consumer landscape, where brands explode onto the horizon, all guns blazing, attempting to be all things to all men, PlayStation’s grassroots, customer-centric approach had created a product that provides a stark contrast to that of its entertainment-focused ‘Console Wars’ competitors. The goal for us was to turn a product built for the gamer, by the gamer, into a communications campaign that seduced the gamer.

Our aim from day one was to deliver the most talked about launch ever for an entertainment product.  We lived and breathed gaming culture, conferences, development and technology for over a year to truly get under the skin of the expectations, sensibilities and desires of our gaming audience. What was clear was that gamers wanted gaming on their terms, not the tech industry’s. They wanted freedom and empowerment.

Experience to revel in

The result was that we knew we always had to ask ourselves – what would the gamer want to see, think and feel? Not to think like a tech company, but a gamer. Create a story and an experience that they could revel in.

The integrated campaign ‘For the Players’ is just that: for the players, by the players. Its intention is to thrill, surprise and captivate gamers around the world. The campaign is drenched in gaming culture, incredible effects and, with every detail, and every pixel, it delivers to the true gamer.

And this back to basics approach is already paying off, even before a single console has been sold in the UK. Ringing endorsements flood gaming forums all over the world, players eagerly hunt the 40 plus hidden ‘Easter eggs’ in the TVC, and close to 40,000 gamers have made their mark on the digital and interactive social media experience ‘The Players Monument’.  

We always knew that this was a strategy that wouldn’t please everyone – but that was never the intention. PlayStation has blazed a trail in giving control back to the player and it seems that’s just the way they like it.

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