Note: This story has been updated with new numbers to better reflect the number of people who watched the event. It turns out, even more people ended up talking about PlayStation on Facebook!
The video game industry has been in a constant tug-of-war between a handful of companies. The winner, if there is one, gets most gamers on their platform, and therefore more of the money they spend on games and services. For twenty years, the main console competitors have been the same: Nintendo ($TYO:7974), Microsoft ($MSFT) with its Xbox brand, and the reigning champion since 1996 Sony ($SNE) with its PlayStation.
Thursday, June 11, was the day we finally got to see the PlayStation 5 and its games running live for the first time. The event, which was pushed back several times including a last-minute delay in early June, was Sony's "Future of Gaming" showcase, and was immensely hyped by fans for months, if not years. The PS5's hardware was revealed, some exclusive games were announced, and lots of new trailers ran during the hourlong livestream. With a holiday 2020 release date, now was the time to convince people they needed to be excited to buy a new console. Obviously you read the headline to this article, you know where this story is heading.
If you care about the business of entertainment or technology and don't pay attention to what's going on in the gaming industry right now, you are not paying attention at all.
The PS5 show was also shown on Twitch, and while that data shows a large audience anyways, the Facebook engagement numbers for the PlayStation brand have been astronomical. Between the end of April and the start of the event, the 'Talking About' count for people mentioning PlayStation went up 1800%. The anticipation was palpable, and it cut through almost all other talk online save for the news. People want a distraction right now, and it's not coming from sports, it's coming from video games.
The PlayStation Twitter account had a 7% jump in followers this year, and with the release of The Last of Us Part II coming soon, developer Naughty Dog broke three million followers recently. All the social media accounts for Sony and PlayStation are going up in big numbers, and have been all year.
We were supposed to get news about the PlayStation 5 in March, at the Game Developer Conference. But GDC was canceled due to COVID-19, as was just about every other professional gathering for 2020. The PS5 announcements were delayed by Sony, which included the specs of the console, the controller, and game reveals. Interest was pent up all year, and it all exploded in June for Sony. And it was worth the wait, as now Sony gets to suck all the oxygen out of the conversation about the next generation of gaming, all to themselves. For now, at least.
About the Data:
Thinknum tracks companies using the information they post online - jobs, social and web traffic, product sales, and app ratings - and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue, and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales.