The PS4 giant could swallow this next generation whole.
Sony was proud during its E3 conference. The way Andrew House–president and CEO of Sony’s videogame arm–pattered on stage, wearing a chin-wide grin and carrying a boastful demanour, he knew jaws would drop. Then at Gamescom this past week, the same joyful House said: “While others have shifted their message and changed their story, we were consistent in maintaining a message that is fair and in tune with consumer desires.”
To which Microsoft Studios head Phil Spencer responded: “Other people will do and say what they’re going to say. Fine. We’re running our program. That’s a strength of who we are.”
Microsoft’s recent belly-flopping is a case of the strange gone stranger. Policies that disturbed the online masses are done, and now Xbox One employs a replica of Sony’s more favoured infrastructure. The residual effects are clear though, as Microsoft must still handle the videogame public’s anxiety that the old policies could be restored at some point.
And Sony is quick to remind us all.
Not to say Sony is ready to claim victory, however with the Wii U drowning and Xbox One trying to mitigate backlash, the PlayStation 4 may have a positive start and never look back.
As Microsoft reels, Nintendo aims to return to its former glory. Last quarter, the Wii U sold 160,000 units. Pitiful when compared to 1.4 million 3DS handhelds in the same period. Even though these days most don’t even consider Nintendo in the competition conversation. That may be a failure of Nintendo’s marketing department; nevertheless, it’s great news for Sony.
That makes Microsoft’s perceivably weaker position all the more pivotal. And to reflect that, Sony has shown an iron gall by repeatedly denouncing Microsoft at every turn, only for the company to respond in kind. If Sony is using this brotherly squabbling as a way to steal headlines, its PR team deserves an award.
But now that both consoles do have similar infrastructures, the exclusives games are what loyal fanboys stand their ground for and consumers rely on to solidify a choice. The two companies aimed for similar markets, but where Sony begins to deviate (and where I think it destroys Microsoft) is in the indie game department. Microsoft did freshly reveal the self-publishing model for Xbox Live but without any games. Sony, to counter, has plenty of games to brag about, though some on that handy Joystiq list are probably timed exclusives.
As for the rank of triple-A games arriving soon, Sony has a smaller group, but plans to put out 33 games by December 31. Among the notables are Watch Dogs, Assassin’s Creed 4, Call of Duty: Ghosts and Battlefield 4, all of which appear in Microsoft’s basket too. By contrast, Sony is relying on old favourites like Killzone and Infamous, the latter to be ready in 2014.
The most impressive titles in Sony’s E3 package were Driveclub, a more socially reared racing simulator, and The Order: 1886. Racing games have so far been about stylization and realism, and until Need for Speed: Most Wanted, never prioritizing community over looks. Driveclub is on par with Forza 5 in terms of realistic design, but overshadows it in the social game. As far as we know, at least.
Ready at Dawn is hard at work on The Order: 1886, where the Industrial Revolution began to combat inhuman creatures. It looks like a colourful take on a historic period in human development, and as a third-person shooter, one to watch. (Though I’m sensible enough to wait for game play. Don’t want a repeat of Dead Island‘s mesmerizing trailer.) But this one definitely has the potential to be a franchise and an early anchor for the PlayStation 4 beyond next year.
One more positive before I end this post. As free-to-play has been adapted this generation by the console companies, the five games offered on PS4 near launch make one strong collection. All of these have been available on PC for some time. The one downside is PlanetSide 2, at least, doesn’t collaborate with its PC counterpart; the PS4 server is entirely separate. It stands to reason that the others on that list have the same restriction.
Gearing up for a possible decadelong generation, Sony is fiendishly ripping away at the floodgates. The company anxiously waits for November 15, the PS4′s shipping date, while Microsoft aims to release Xbox One likely around the same date. That time is closing in quickly, though, so Sony better capitalize early and efficiently or it risks mirroring sales of the seventh generation. This Christmas will be fun to watch.
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