Oh, gee, it’s black! (PS4)
And so is this one! Shock and awe! (XBox One)
Up until Sony’s press conference that I stayed up late for last night, I wasn’t very enthused about the next generation of gaming. I mean, the Wii U has been released for months and I don’t yet own it. Do I plan to? Hopefully. Nintendo has not yet disappointed me with my favorite franchises (Mario Kart, Kirby, Super Mario…) and Hubby might just die if he doesn’t have access to the eventual Legend of Zelda U release. The New Super Mario Bros. Wii U (Or whatever the hell it’s called) looks fun, yeah, but it also looks like a shinier version of the game I already own on the Wii. Not enough to make me think I “need” the newer Wii just yet. If they give a release date for Bayonetta 2, then yes, I will pester my husband to make sure we have one in time for that game. Hopefully Nintendo announces some core games set to be released in the near future to rev up their consumers just a bit more.
The real question, of course, is whether a family is going to opt for the new Playstation or new XBox. There are hardly enough console exclusives between the two anymore to get the average family (and average income) to want both on launch. When it came to 360 and PS3, we weren’t sure which system we were going to go with for a while. We saved our pennies, all the while observing and debating. I worked at GameStop at the time, so I was very tuned into everything that was going on. Yes, the 360 was cheaper on release, but also more cheaply made! I could not fathom the number of people who purchased or had to swap out multiple 360 systems due to the infamous Red Ring. And they kept giving Microsoft more of their money! I couldn’t believe it! Every week before we sent out our defective games and systems shipment, our backroom was loaded to the ceiling with broken 360s. It got to the point where GameStop stopped offering store warranties on the things for a while. In the end, we figured we would rather cough up the extra dough and have a system that proved to be more reliable. Plus, I rationalized, I would have a system to play all my PS1 and PS2 games on when my PS2 died.
My PS2 is still alive and kicking, by the way.
And so is that fat 60GB PS3 we purchased. And we use that for everything. We swapped out the hard drive because we filled it. It is our entertainment hub for all of our Blu-rays and DVDs, Netflix, Hulu and Vudu. We don’t pay for cable so these streaming services are gold to us. So, yes, I will admit that our video game console has turned into more than just something to play games on. But when it comes to E3, I want to see games and game-related features on the systems.
Over the last few weeks, all the rumors and speculation about the nasty crap Microsoft was pulling with the XBox One left a bad taste in my mouth. I felt like it set a bad precedent for the future of gaming, and thus, deflated most of my interest with the next-gen consoles. The enormous backlash they received was deserved, I feel. The announcements/rumors about the XB1 requiring always online (which turned into a “once every 24 hours” requirement) struck a bad chord. Especially with Americans frustrated with the recent revelation that their government is, and has been, putting that pesky Patriot Act to use. Most of us (like myself) always suspected the surveillance was going on and are none-too-surprised, but it leads to speculation about where to draw the line, what is “privacy” when we are constantly connected on an online and global scale, and what does “Home of the Free” even mean anymore? I don’t mean to make this political, I’m just saying the timing was really bad. And the concept was worse.
Sony smartened up this round. They waited. They watched. When they saw Microsoft make their announcement and observed the backlash that followed, they went the opposite direction. As with the PS3, they have a system that is capable of requiring constant online connectivity and DRM, but they’re going the safe route. Last night they announced there’s no online requirement to play disc-based games, no necessity to log on to PSN every whenever to, I don’t know, monitor the games you’re playing and make sure you aren’t letting your friend borrow them or something? All the mumbo-jumbo with used games Microsoft talked about confused me. I like to think I’m a pretty good reader. Yet I still had a hard time wrapping my head around what you can, can’t, must, and don’t have to do whenever you buy a game for that system. I’d rather not bother with any of that crap. According to Sony’s press conference last night, I won’t have to.
Then there’s the pricing. I’m one of those crazy people who spent $600 on a PS3, so I’d be a bit of a hypocrite if I spoke much on that. After finding out the XB1 was set to release at $499, I crossed my fingers that the PS4 would be the same price or less. Again, Sony learned their lesson from the last round and priced this system a lot lower. Not only does the XB1 cost more, but the long term dollar impact of potentially being charged a fee by the retailers whenever you buy a used game (if I am understanding it correctly) remains to be seen. Plus you have to figure in your online memberships for both consoles if you want to play online multiplayer. I’m also safely assuming retail costs for games will go up an average of $10 or so from here on out.
Gaming is more expensive than it used to be, and people don’t have the disposable income they used to have. I spend all day working with people who have lost their jobs and are struggling to find something else that will hopefully pay something comparable to their last salary before their unemployment insurance runs out. Guess what? 95% of the time the new job they “settle” with is significantly lower paying than their last one. Many people go without cable and internet to make ends meet. Microsoft is telling them not to bother trying to save up for a XB1, because it’ll turn into an overpriced paperweight if they have to turn their internet off for a month or two to catch up on bills. I also live in a very rural area and meet with people every day who don’t have internet access. THEY DO EXIST.
I think the collective heads of a bunch of Microsoft Executive-So-and-Sos got a little too swollen with the success of the 360. Seems to me that they’re asking their fanbase to put up with an awful lot of crap. Honestly, I couldn’t care less about Halo or many of the other exclusive games. Except Killer Instinct. I played the first one to death because it came with the SNES my parents bought me. I’m more excited about new IPs, and Sony is brave enough to take the plunge with great new IPs for their 7 year old and the new baby on the way.
For people who are already Playstation gamers, the PSP requirement to play online is a low blow. I feel for you guys. That was the only part of Sony’s press conference that felt shady to me. Don’t get me wrong, I love my PSP membership and enjoy the free games and betas because of it. But it is all about having options. Not being mandated to fork over more money. Free online was one of the big Playstation selling points up until now. And really, how many games are released that don’t include some sort of online multiplayer anymore? Very few, and their numbers grow increasingly thinner by the day.
Sony has finally redeemed themselves to me. With the release of the uber-expensive PS3 and allowing Microsoft to dominate gaming for a while, I’m psyched that they are making smarter moves and listening to their consumers. I’m also excited to see what the Indie developers they picked up have planned. And now that I do video game blogging and social media, I know I’ll be putting that “Share” button built into my controller to good use!
I know Hubby and I will be speaking with our wallets more so this gen of gaming than the last. As much as I still absolutely love gaming and try to find time to play a little every day, priorities change when you have a toddler. Okay, mostly my expendable income changes, but you get my drift. Thanks to Sony’s E3 press conference I can’t wait to see what the future of gaming has in store.
Here’s hoping (and sort of not hoping) that Nintendo can convince me I need a Wii U before E3 is over!