If you’re reading this then likely you’ve already gotten the details on Sony and Microsoft’s new babies so I’m going to dive right in to dissecting their press conferences from yesterday pretty quickly. If you don’t have the information I’ll boil it down as succinctly as possible so you can catch up with the rest of the class.
- Fancy new Kinect
- Lots of cool games
- Rapes consumers with anti-used game stance by requiring internet connection for games which must be verified once every 24-hours
- Improved multimedia capabilities
- Lots of cool games
- Took a friendly stance toward used games by adhering to the same standards as last generation
- Improved multimedia capabilities
You’re probably noticing a pretty stark difference up there so let’s go ahead and dive right in.
Sony’s No Savior
Make no mistake Sony is just as greedy as Microsoft and wants exactly the same thing- they were just smarter in their approach and let Microsoft take the PR hit while paving the way for a pure digital distribution, DRM-laden model.
We’ve been on this road for a while and the prospect of a purely digital distribution model or at least one that ensures ALL of the monies go to the console makers and publishers has been the big prize up for grabs,but only now is that reality taking form. The original Xbox dipped its toe in the digital distribution pool with its included hard drive and this generation saw us wading full and happy through its waters with the acceptance of USB hard drives as a storage medium for those purchases but the next generation was to be the full on plunge into the deep end. Except rather than follow through with the promise of ‘me too’ Sony was content to watch Microsoft flail around when it wasn’t ready yet. That’s exactly what we saw happen yesterday at Sony’s press conference.
Sony doesn’t care about you or your position on ownership, but it will use your position on these issues to its short-term tactical advantage by playing the ‘we care about gamers’ card in supporting used game sales and offering their system at a lower price. It’s a big gag and Sony’s played it brilliantly.
Gamers will side with Sony almost implicitly to show their objections to big bad Microsoft. Retailers- especially independent operations, will rally behind Sony for not disrupting their business model of a game that can be sold re-sold a thousand times if needed.The holiday shopper/non-gamer consumer is going to see the new Sony console is also that latest game thingy but this one costs $100 less and if Sony wants to drive another nail into Microsoft’s coffin this generation, it’ll include (ironically) a digital-code prominently placed on the box and in materials that offers a free game along with purchase. The Super Mario Bros. pack-in for a new generation that laments the loss of such inclusions.
So in one deft move Sony captured the hearts of retailers, hardcore gamers, and casual consumers who know only the weirdos they’re shopping for can be satiated for 100 less greenbacks.
Sony isn’t some beacon of hope for the game ownership movement, they’re just too sissy to take the leap themselves and are content to stand accusingly over Microsoft’s would-be corpse hoping consumers can’t see through the facade.
MICROSOFT NEEDS A HISTORY LESSON
When the PS3 launched for $599 8 years ago we all scoffed and Sony just about became the laughing stock of the entire industry. People flocked to Microsoft with its already established Xbox Live platform and attractive price point in droves. What a difference 8 years and an over-inflated ego makes.
Microsoft not only seriously asks for $500, but also wants to smash an entire second-hand industry and create a confusing DRM system in which they’re coy about the details.
Boiling it down to its bare essentials:
Sony stuck with what works, is familiar, and made it cheaper while Microsoft tried to force us into the digital era with murky details and an attempt to pass the buck on software restrictions to developers. That was one of the more fatal flaws of the move. Microsoft wanted the benefits but not the blame and you can’t have it both ways- you’re either spearheading a new distribution initiative or you’e just ‘providing the means’ for publishers to take that leap but you can’t have it both ways.
OFF THE SOAPBOX, WHAT ABOUT THE GAMES?
Out of everything I’ve seen there are a few titles that I’m excited about so let’s take a look at them now.
Infamous, Second Son
This game looks amazing not just for the gameplay or fancy particle effects (which were on display ad nauseum) but also for the sheer range of emotion and the unlikely hero. It’s pretty reassuring to have a new kind of hero that’s younger and less experienced than your typical hardened and battle-worn protagonist.
I don’t feel like we got to see a ton of new footage from Watch Dogs but I’m still pumped for this. There just isn’t enough techno-espionage going around and in a world where Google Glass is rapidly coming to fruition and NSA scandals abound it’s fun territory to explore. Throw in some gorgeous graphics and a down ‘n dirty fight system that adds a new level of brutality to the oft-beautifully choreographed combat systems we’re used to and this new IP could have a lot of potential.
While there still haven’t been a wealth of details, the fact that Bungie’s insistent on creating a lush, persistent sci-fi world for its next shooter intrigues me. So often we hear about WoW as a shooter but we’ve never really scene a solid one come to fruition. Will Destiny fit the bill? It’s too early to tell but Bungie’s an awfully competent developer with a lot of talent.
Final Fantasy XV
In a departure for the series, this action roleplaying game is shaping up to be one incredibly big in scope. Graphically it’s on par with the presentation we found in Advent Children and with a solid story this’ll be a title to keep an eye on for series faithfuls or newcomers looking to transition to the FF universe. I’m intrigued, to say the least.
It’s going to be an interesting fight. Nintendo seems to be limping along right now but they’ll certainly be in a better position than Microsoft if they can garner more developer support and a stronger lineup for the Wii-U this holiday season.
Microsoft will of course sell a bajillion but the most ‘hardcore’ among us will approach the system with more hesitation and reluctance than ever before and alienating your core audience is never a good thing.
Sony just might charge back into the spotlight through its meticulous ability to mask its intent and cower behind the bold moves of Microsoft but we’ll have to see.
It’s a tough time for game and console makers as they try to figure out how best to approach the historically entrenched gamer audience.
Who are you throwing in with this generation?