Spider-Man was one of the most buzzed about games at E3 and served as the highlight of Sony's PlayStation media briefing, so it's no wonder that Sony executives are banking on their exclusive Marvel title to push sales of the PlayStation 4 above the 100 million mark.
It's not the first time the beloved superhero has been given the gaming treatment, but there's a sense with fans that Insomniac is clearly doing something different with this triple-A exclusive for PS4. The first gameplay trailer was released to a widely positive reception, with fan optimism reaching new heights when more footage was unveiled at E3. Promising a mature and conscientious Spider-Man that's a "real superhero," and a flourishing universe filled with popular figures from the source material, the consensus is that Spider-Man for PS4 is rapidly shaping up to be a game worthy of the character where the last movie tie-in game from Activision (The Amazing Spider-Man 2) clearly was not.
Shawn Layden, President of Sony Interactive Entertainment America is well aware of how important exclusive titles like Spider-Man can be to consumers who're deciding which console to purchase, which is why he's so confident of the PlayStation 4's chances of broadening its already impressive sales in the coming years. Layden gave an in-depth interview with the Telegraph, discussing the company's performance at E3 2017 while also candidly engaging with some of their past pitfalls. The PS4 is an unrivalled success already, pushing past 60 million sales in just over three years and doubling the rival, Microsoft's Xbox One. When asked how the company intends to cross the elusive 100 million mark, Layden said:
“Well, like I tell my sales guys, the first 60 million is the easy 60 million...To get to the next one, it’s about how do we grow the pie? It’s not about how do I steal share from someone else - whether that be gaming share or hardware share. How do we grow the pie. How do we get more people into the world of gaming?...for us in the US I think the biggest chance we have to broaden that pie is with a game like Spider-man.
“Spider-man is probably the best known comic book character in the world and we can take that title - and the way that Insomniac has hit it out the park in realising that character in a way that finally Spider-man plays like you want him to play - I think we can bring people into gaming who may not be there yet through the power of that kind of character.”
With Spider-Man, Layden looks to be hoping for similar success that the Nintendo Switch recently saw in the form of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, which was so impressive that it actually managed to outsell the console itself. The PS4 exclusive Horizon: Zero Dawn was the only real competition for Breath of the Wild when it released, and Spider-Man represents that continued effort to entice more and more gamers onto their gaming platform.
Sony already has an impressive back catalogue of exclusive titles, with analysts suggesting that Microsoft and the Xbox can't possibly contend with the PS4's runaway success without investing in more exclusive gameplay experiences.
Tellingly, however, Shawn Layden doesn't discuss the importance of increasing the PlayStation's sales as a marker in some competition, but as a benchmark for Sony's own success - and with the immense optimism surrounding Spider-Man, Layden's commercial senses must be tingling.
Spider-Man is due to release on PS4 at some point in 2018.