If you had told me that PlayStation and Xbox were competing to create a new product line, I would’ve put my guesses on a new game console or a more innovative controller. However, I would be completely wrong. The rivaling game companies have shifted their focus onto a new market: shoes.
Though Nike has already been producing PlayStation-themed shoes for a few years now, Adidas is hopping on the bandwagon with plans to release an Xbox-themed shoe in June of 2021.
In past years, Nike has released other versions of the PlayStation shoe. Like the 2018 galaxy-themed PG2 shoe inspired by Paul George of the LA Clippers. However, since each shoe is made to mimic the current PlayStation model, the style gets more competitive as more are released. The newest Nike PlayStation shoe, the PG5, comes in a blue, white, and black design. The PG5 shoe is releasing on May 27th and will be available to buy for $120.
Nike and Adidas are broadening their horizons to reach those who enjoy engaging with virtual games and real-life sports. This begs the question, what will the future of sports branding look with the rise of sport video games?
Over the past 40 years, sports shoes have emerged as a new central piece to an outfit (especially in the world of sports.) Brands like Vans and Converse haven’t lost their style or crowd appeal since the 1970s and 80s. Similarly, Nike and Adidas have dominated the sports industry since the latter half of the 20th century.
However, the shoe market is slowly beginning to target online gamers. European Puma actually released a gamer shoe last year designed for active gamers. But though the idea was great, the execution was a total flop. The design was similar to that of a cheap water shoe, and the reviews on Puma’s website seemed to be fabricated.
Marketing hyped this shoe up by telling the public it had multiple “modes” that the user could engage with (which is to say the user would have to manually “stealth” or “sneak” while wearing the shoes). Although “gaming shoes” (like Puma’s Active Gaming Footwear) may not fly off the shelves, game-themed shoes by popular brands have the possibility to.
Personally, I think that the 2018 PG2 shoe from Nike is really, really cool looking. I would even wear this shoe (and I’m not into video games!). The marketing here is innovative because a cool shoe is attractive to many audiences regardless of the sub-branding.
On the other hand, the audience who truly understand what this shoe is about is a small percentage of people. To me, it seems a little confusing to have a crossover between a sports company and a video game console brand. When I first came across Nike’s crossover with PlayStation, I had to stop and re-read the sentence a few times before it made sense to me.
Video game sports-themed shoes are fantastic for anyone who understands what they are. All the 12-year-old boys who love Fortnight and basketball will beg their moms to buy these shoes, but everyone else might be a little confused.
But in reality, the audience becomes anyone who understands what the shoe design is based on and has enough money to buy a pair of shoes that can go up to $200-300 dollars. So really, Nike and Adidas target men or women who are into sports and video games and have enough money to buy a pair of these.
Although these shoes have a select audience, the idea is quite unique and could potentially pave the way for other companies to do crossovers. Imagine an Apple and Microsoft shoe crossover; now that would be a true miracle.