Saturday, 2 April 2016

Sony and the State of Things

Be one hundred per cent honest, have you played many PS4 games that, save for a bump in graphics, don’t do anything that couldn’t have been done on the PS3? The answer is no, you haven’t. You can’t have because there aren’t many. This generational jump has yet to be capitalised on but already Sony are tinkering and are rumoured to be tinkering with things that, rather than focusing on great games, focuses on nifty bits of tech. Tech is great but a games console is for gaming.
I’ll be the first to admit I’ve been a bit jaded with gaming recently but I’m over that now and am enjoying things again. I’m looking at the issues I have with modern gaming rationally, objectively. I am enjoying gaming on the PS4 but I expected a bigger jump in terms of innovation and I’m disappointed with how similar the games this generation are to the games from last generation. Remember going from the PS2 to PS3? Playing games like Mass Effect, Oblivion and Metal Gear Solid 4? We haven’t had a leap like that in terms of gameplay, world design, storytelling. We haven’t had that influx of new ideas, bolstered by the improved tech. If you ask me Sony should be leveraging their first party studios to bring about this wave of new ideas, leading by example and showing what their system can do. Instead they gave us Knack, Killzone and Infamous.
Rather than great games they are focusing on PlayStation VR, you can read my thoughts on that here. Basically I like the idea but feel it lacks the games to justify it yet, there just aren’t enough great or innovative looking games for it. Then there is PlayStation TV, a great idea that Sony never focused on. It could have been a small form factor console/media hub, allowing you to stream games, movies, TV and music, use the internet and Remote Play Vita, PS3 and PS4 games. Instead it’s been abandoned by Sony and is dead in the water. Of course there is also the Vita. The Vita is a great handheld console but because of how Sony mismanaged it’s launch, not providing enough games following the initial wave, expensive proprietary memory, expensive hardware etc., it’s left to its own niche market when the 3DS is proof great handhelds can have widespread appeal.

Let's hope Sony never reach this stage. A worst case scenario.

How could we forget the so rumoured it’s obviously happening  PS4K/4.5. A console focusing on a graphical upgrade to support a resolution most gamer’s TVs can’t even handle. A console whose games will, if not be exclusive to will be superior on. Either way you’ll be left with a piece of hardware that isn’t really needed and a fragmented install base. It will also complicate development if teams need to make a game that can run on both systems, taking time and resources away from innovative ideas and great experiences and on to graphics.
It would also be great if Sony focused more on PlayStation Now, if they added more titles and put some PS1 and PS2 games in then I’d be game, a Netflix style streaming service could pave a bright future for old games and retro gaming is on the rise in recent years, even Gamestop sell old systems now.
Microsoft are doing much better with things. Crackdown 3’s use of servers to allow for massive destruction looks like a great idea and their endorsement of early access means exciting games like ARK, Elite Dangerous and The Long Dark can come to Xbox One. They allow services like EA Access, allowing you to play some of EA's best games on Xbox One for a very reasonable subscription fee and offering exclusive discounts. Amusingly, given their respective console announcements and advertisements, Microsoft seem to be focused more on the gaming experience than Sony, with Sony seemingly happy to let the games trundle along whilst they tinker with new toys.

This could butcher the install base. 

It’s worrying. Sony are acting complacent, the PS4 is dominant so they are doing other things, not worrying about the games. This sort of arrogance has harmed them before, like with the PS3’s insane launch price. Sony need to avoid making Sega’s mid-90s mistake of focusing on tinkering with hardware, releasing constant add-ons, spin-offs and revisions and instead focus on making great games for their already great hardware.

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