Anatomy of corporate blogging 2/2: PlayStation

PlayStation blog

This is the second of two analysis of corporate blogs. To view the other, please read the previous entry.

Some background
PlayStation is one of the most successful game console franchises. Although the latest generation, PlayStation 3, is lagging behind Nintendo and Microsoft in worldwide sales, the previous PlayStation 2 is still the best-selling game console in history with more than 140 million units sold.

What is this blog about?
This blog posts official announcements, release schedules, and special sales information regarding PlayStation hardware and software. It has three primary goals: to be the thought leader in the PlayStation ecosystem, collect as many feedbacks from PlayStation users, and give them a sense of ‘belonging.’

Design and layout
Below diagram shows the content structure, with notable features marked in red.

The structure is a standard two-column but it is almost over-crowded with various visual elements which are not uncommon in game-oriented blogs. Each entry consists of official announcements from Sony and is mostly half-page long. Surrounding the entries are various offerings and invitations from PlayStation store and network. Twitter, PlayStation fan network, downloads, and special sales information which allows this blog to work also as the online hub for users. Lengthy entries are purposefully avoided and commenting is actively encouraged. In fact, the commenting feature is greatly enhanced with reader ‘review’ system and unique icon (ID) for each user and author. More about this in the next paragraph.

What is special about this blog?
The user commenting feature of this blog is more powerful than most other blogs in the market. To summarize, users are treated with more respect. Each user is awarded with his own visual ID (icon) showing up in the screen. The comments to which the author of the post replies are marked in red, showing ‘worthy’ status. The authors are mid- to high-level managers of Sony Entertainment, so being replied works as a ‘badge of honor’ here. Finally, users can rate the original post with stars. This makes the communication between users and Sony stuff two-way, evaluating each other. In this blog, users are not treated like necessary evil – they are recognized as the vital part of the community.

Does it work?
In short, yes it is working very well. The first question that came to my mind when I started looking into PlayStation blog was, ‘Who needs another blog about gaming?’ There are already hundreads of online sources, and it looked like the game maker’s job was simply creating products, and all the rest belonged to the online community. After all, ‘insiders’ can reveal interesting secrets (which does not apply here) but usually offer less interesting readings compared to seasoned editors and writers. This blog shows a more complex reality. Each entry in the PlayStation blog attracts hundreds of comments compared with dozens in other blogs. Technorati ranks the PlayStation blog at 1,456th (as of Sep 9 2009), a remarkable feat. Users are welcoming bonding with the maker, therefore willfully listening to the official message (it can be argued they do not AGREE with official statements, but in this world of information overflow, what matters is that the voices are HEARD, first of all). Sony is collecting vital marketing information through feedbacks, and also gaining loyalty from its users. A win-win relationship is seen here.