I thought about doing a rapid fire blurb piece involving some of the highlights of the PS4 press conference, the two hour event being a glut of gaming content. I gave it a second thought, and realized I had approached the event with a healthy perspective of objectivity, with my gaming bias intact. The bias mentioned including my own gluttony and excitement for new game news, especially information of this quality proportion.
The reason I resisted doing another straight write up was the want and need to deliver something a little more critical. I can go on all day about what Sony said about the system, or what the games are “suppose“ to do , but I don’t believe that cuts deep enough. These press events can be intoxicating, to the point of blind consumption. The PS4 has me excited in all sorts of ways, but I’m thinking that a great deal of what Sony is selling may have been a slight embellishment, the “endless possibilities” not having come across to some onlookers as not entirely plausible.
For starters, the system not being shown wasn’t a deal breaker for me. This event under cutting E3 by a couple of months, I figured Sony was going to pull some punches before the big fight. Outside of E3, these events can be great at creating much needed hype, but to ignore the press and iconic nature of E3 would be self-destructive. Microsoft and Nintendo don’t exist in a vacuum after all, and it’s not unrealistic to think either company won’t show off some form of new hardware, and Sony will need a heavy hitter to combat them with. I’m guessing The PS Vita Go hasn’t been in secret development for the past couple months, and likely would only leave the gaming collective horrified.
I noticed the price point also wasn’t stated at the time of the conference. I’m wondering if Sony has a defined retail cost already (given we already know the price of the tech inside the system), or if they’re waiting to see if they can somehow undercut their own dollar tag before the all important E3 reveal.
The gaming giant may be trying to stave off the inevitable, waiting as long as they can before disappointing the majority of eager buyers with the bombshell price point. Sony’s pricing has, historically, been a weak point that often makes for some massive damage.
The Dualshock 4 took a nice clean approach, and was likely for many, the most relieving portion of the Sony centric reveal. I’m glad Sony’s smart enough to try and not fix what isn’t broken, instead of breaking what already works. The share button has me curious, and time will tell if it’s worth will out weight the basic controller functionality. I know that sounds outlandish, but I’m wondering if more people won’t eventually adopt their PS4 as a social media device, forgetting entirely about the fact that it plays video games, much in the same way many have done in turning their 360’s into a Netflix machine.
The extra added tech into the Dual Shock 4 leaves me cautious though. Controller prices are getting higher and higher all the time. With the currently rising prices of hardware already too much for consumers to handle, where will a $60-80 dollar controller leave a gamer with an empty wallet in the face of split screen? Will split screen even be a tertiary concern for most developers going into the eighth generation of consoles?
I liked what Knack had to show off for PS4 infrastructure benefits, but it makes me wonder if all of this functionality isn’t going to further muddle good game design. Slapped on multiplayer is still an aspect of gaming that irritates many, usually degrading what would have been an even better single player experience, to attract estranged demographics. Will dev teams have to focus more on social media, and console interfacing than developing actual gameplay? The core idea worries me going forward as a fact of life, as I will always take fun design over tertiary function any day.
A couple of other theoreticals I’d like to discuss is this always integrated notion of the new system. Past the few confusing selling points and high entry fees to consumers regarding the system, I have another worry about this massive inter relatedness with the PS4. While reports after the conference have been worryingly conflicting to whether or not the “no used games on the PS4” are true, yet another stigma of modern day gaming rears it’s ugly head.
While I’m overly optimistic the PS4 will function as a basic gaming system untethered to the internet, I do feel the need to point out the obvious. My memories of the Diablo 3 launch are still quite potent in my mind, and having an over reliance on unpredictable technology and anti-consumer policies is a terrible idea. I say unpredictable technology in regards to internet connections, and what kind of vast repercussions comes from connecting a majority of functionality to it’s rather fragile nature. Sony was reminded of this warm sentiment with a hello from the unknown when the PSN was hacked, and an underlying message of “Welcome to the Human Race” to go along with it.
Diablo 3’s launched suffered because of both always online and anti-consumer stances. In this instance of policy failure, they effectively disallowed gamers from using a product they just purchased, after waiting a decade to do so. This is all a cause and effect of needless functionality, due to the aforementioned anti-consumerism policies, in a quest to try and quell piracy, and control finance. Diablo 3 became the punching bag in the industry, much like the PSN became when a bunch of anonymous effortlessly took down a network from one of the biggest gaming giants on the planet.
While I might be shouting doom towards the heavens rambunctiously right now, I don’t believe my aim is wrong. All of this tech and all of these business practices need to have proper restraint, and a mindful discipline about them. Without the control of your own tools, crafting ideas like “always connected” and “massive jumps in technology” will fail to create virtual paradise, and instead, turn into self-inflicted chaos. The PS4 needs to focus on games first and fore most, and servicing the gamer in having fun, before trying to shove online status quo and superfluous tech down our strangled consumer throats.
All right, I’ve covered the Sony side of verbal failings so far, mentioned the reality that no one will be happy with the economically pre-ordained price point of the system, touched on the possibility of gimmicks instead of core game play focus at launch, and even sliced a philosophy pie to force feed warning to those who think they can “do it better” in regards to controlled tech…
(To be continued)