Friday, August 23, 2013

Getting off the Bandwagon

Bandwagon is a term from turn of the century American Jazz. A band would go around town playing music. People would follow the Bandwagon in a parade-like event to draw people to the club they were playing. The more people showed up the better the take for the band. This folks is where the term bandwagon comes from (Social History of Jazz, you were indeed not wasted). All kidding aside I say this because I am trying to make a point, I’m buying a PS4.

Okay so I phrased that last sentence as if it was a big deal, now here is why. I think a lot of hardcore gamers are buying the PS4 for all the wrong reasons, what is more I think long term, Sony’s decision to remove the Eye from the base SKU will harm it. This next generation is going to be a big deal I believe. Console gaming is at a crossroad. If we follow Sony’s path we’re likely to see incremental changes in hardware but a clear focus on games, and not likely to see any big change in how we play games. If we follow Microsoft’s path we are likely to see huge changes in how we play games, but a lesser focus on strictly gaming on our consoles.

Gamers worldwide have decried the Kinect 2.0, I even heard one gamer say it was something to do with ‘fitness’ and he wanted no part in it. Pushing aside the obvious gamer stereotype jokes, we are left with the fact that by-in-large gamers don’t view the Kinect 2.0 has having anything to offer to ‘hardcore’ gamers. I would vehemently disagree. Imagine playing Mass Effect 4 and pointing to parts of your screen and having your team mates run to cover and start attacking the enemy or playing Call of Duty 10 (smile) and waving your hand in a circle and pointing to your television and having a pinpoint artillery strike on a bunkered enemy sniper. The possibilities are endless and the Kinect, which is at its core mostly software, is going to get better with each iteration.

I believe that Microsoft’s new gaming Boss, Julie Larson-Green, is likely to bring the ship closer to its gaming past but I don’t think that gamers should have been particularly surprised by the focus on entertainment over gaming for the-house-that-Windows-built. The entertainment side of the 360 has been turning over massive profits over the last few years. Microsoft didn’t become a huge behemoth by not following the money. In an almost ironic turn, Sony, the company that has a large footprint in Hollywood is choosing to focus on games first, while still laying the groundwork for much of the same systems on the entertainment side as Microsoft. It’s that fact that causes me the most bemusement, when reading opinion pieces espousing the greatness of the PS4 (Can I say that the full Greatness Awaits commercial is amazing?). 

Article after article I read, with few exceptions, implies that somehow Sony is being groundbreaking in its approach to gaming, the online space, and so on. Yet every time an article gets to the nitty gritty on why Sony is better, there is little difference. It’s as if Sony has thrown a spell over all of us these last few months and we avoid any mention of the parts they are failing on. I’m buying a PS4 for its allowance of MMO’s and cross-server (with the PC at least) play and the focus of gaming over entertainment. But by no means do I think it’s a perfect system. Sony should have eaten the cost of the Eye and packaged it into every box, to at least give it some chance of catching up to the Xbox One in that category but they took the easy and lazy way out by just scrapping it altogether; nixing not a few features of the PS4 controller in the bargain. Sony is saying all the nice focus group words but the Vita still doesn’t have any real support past 2013 (Where is the western launch of Phantasy Star 2 Online?). If I leave you with a single thought it’s this: nearly every game is going to be multiplatform and nearly every feature is matched by both systems, if there is one question you should ask yourself its where do you want to be in five years?

No comments:

Post a Comment