Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Why I'm Not Quite Sold on the Sony PlayStation 4

Why I'm Not Quite Sold on the Sony PlayStation 4
Originally Published on and Copyrighted by Blast Away the Game Review on 8/28/2013
Written by Dustin Murphy

  In gaming hardware history, Sony has been nothing short of a shining star, but that was quickly changed when their Sony PlayStation 3 had flopped. It started with low sales due to the extremely high price tag, limited online support, and of course the Microsoft Xbox 360 having dealt a heavy blow with a lower price, and of course heavier support. Over time the console grew in support with the blu-ray technology, vast amounts of exclusives, and of course a heavy support on digital sales. It has just been in recent years has the PlayStation 3 truly began to shine thanks to games that push the hardware such as Metal Gear Solid 4, Killzone 2, Killzone 3, God of War 3, and of course the latest installment God of War: Ascension. The PlayStation 3 has also been a home to amazing digital and or exclusives (Rain, Unfinished Swan, and Dead Nation to name a few) giving it a bit of a lead against the Microsoft Xbox 360, this however only being recent, and the question will be can they hold on.

  With the announcement of the PlayStation 4 as well as their plans for the future once it releases, it has received large public cheers, and ultimately a punch at Microsoft console sales for next gen. With the announcement players were able to see a strong and steady line up as well as support for the console. The support is only questionable to how strong it will remain due to Microsoft’s reversals on the XBox Ones hardware, game support, used games policies, and of course the Kinect not being required to play. This still has left a few fans weary of the XBox One, but why not the PS4? With the next generation around the corner in November it is the consoles should be studied, looked into, and ultimately decided on based on support as well as launch titles.

Launch Title Exclusives

  When it comes to exclusives, Sony has been a master at them, and the next generation seems to show this once more. With their 33 title launch window titles including Driveclub (day one), Killzone: Shadow Fall (Day One), and Knack (Day One), just to a list a few of these. However, the concern appears to be on how large that launch window is. After having boasted on their support for large online titles (Blacklight Retribution, Planet Side 2, and DC Universe Online), Sony has found themselves short with launch titles, and by short most won't be out till 2014. For gamer's such as myself, 2014 is a ways away, and in gaming a few months is like a year to be quite honest. With the lack of Planet Side 2 and Blacklight till 2014 this has began to waver some players to the XBox One and also gives Microsoft a leading draw on Day One exclusives. The problem here for Sony is trying to deliver a bigger and stronger blow than what Microsoft has already done with reversals as well as upcoming launch titles.

   Killzone Shadowfall however has demonstrated a strong performance for the PlayStation 4 thanks to the newly added co-operative play for campaign. Another focus has been on community. With their upcoming title Driveclub, Sony Entertainment has assured players Driveclub will focus on one thing aside from game play  the in-game racing community. With this focus it will be interesting to see how Sony plans on delivering a strong blow towards Microsoft's Forza Motorsports titles that have a strong following. With a weak track record after Gran Turismo 5, it is only a wonder how Sony can pull this one through, and if it will succeed. With Microsoft having announced they will have the same amount of release titles, more exclusives, and a heavy focus on the cloud for gaming. It is only a wonder if Sony can slow Microsoft's focus of gaming down. Sadly so far the only thing plucking at my strings is Killzone Shadowfall, a game that will have to deliver against the upcoming XBox One Exclusive, Titanfal by Respawn Entertainment. Sony you have some big shoes to fill, now lets see if you can deliver, and out-do this monster.

Online Support

PS4 community focus screen shot
  With the current generation of gamer's, community is a big thing, and so is the online support. The PlayStation 3 truly lacked in this where as Microsoft's XBox Live team focused on this, and eventually delivered with a Party Chat, something that PS3 was unfortunate to never have. With the launch of the PlayStation Vita, Sony saw this happen, and it works very well. The Party Chat system on the Vita seems to have been what is safe to assume a test ground for how the PlayStation 4 will operate their new party chat integration. While this is something that will be heavily welcomed to the gaming community that is moving to the PlayStation 4, it raises doubts to as how it will perform, and this is since Sony does have a bad history with slow networks. Players in the past have voice issues regarding this, Sony in turn having responded with patches to fix it, and lately they have. That still raises the questions on how Sony will support the new servers (PlayStation Plus online requirement?) as well as to how secure these servers will be after the Sony outage back in 2012. Another issue a lot of players will question if the PS4 will be able to handle the party chat, online multiplayer servers, and of course the new two thousand person friends list. It will be interesting to see how Sony does this, if they will tell the public, and how steady the connectivity will be compared to that of the PS3's at times flaky wi-fi due to USB based attachments such as the Sony Pulse series, USB dongle based controllers, and of course blue tooth interference from headsets. With the changes coming though it may be safe to assume that the 802.11n support on the PS4 may fix this issue. It will be interesting to see how to join friends, share game videos, earn new trophies, and of course see  all-in-all how the finished product is polished out.


  When it comes down to it the PS4 is truly a console of raw power. According to Sony the PS4 will be able to keep up with PCs for at least 7 years in quality of graphics and gameplay, but the question comes down to how it will do so. If the games remain that way, will we sacrifice graphics for power? On the other side of the river we have the XBox One, which could truly power gaming graphics and engines through utilizing the cloud servers, and also by the almost matching console specs. Another question is how will Sony provide the in-depth motion controlled game play that the XBox One will provide via the Kinect sensor? It will be interesting to see if SCE can actually harness the PS4's eye toy to detect human interaction and voice commands in future titles. When it also comes down to hardware the internal specs matter, but that is something I won't get into. Both consoles are almost identical now, one having a higher opportunity than the other, but the PS4 could truly be showing its raw power in the next four years. 

  With hardware support we also notice accessories. The biggest issue a lot of people had was if their headsets will work. The answer? Yes. Sony has come out and stated that all bluetooth headsets, pulse edition headsets, and of course possibly USB based will work on the upcoming console. The other interesting part is their cross-platform support that may occur between the PS3, PS4, and the PlayStation Vita. It will be interesting to see how this works, and if it does, Sony will officially take a leap that Microsoft has stated they won't be doing. With the launch of Diablo 3 not far out for current generation systems it will be a true sight to see how Sony will do this, and if they do.

  With their support of the PlayStation Vita and PS4 it will not be surprising if we see cross-platform play and support, it will also not be surprising if we see companion apps, cross-platform party chat, and perhaps even cross-platform streaming from the Vita to the PS4 or the other way around. However, even with their announced Vita and PS4 plans, the question remains. WILL they actually stick to this or will we eventually see them lose sight of this objective they made?

DRM Left to.... Developers?!

Online Pass DRM screen
   Sony after having announced that the PlayStation 4 would allow used games, it was not surprising to man fans that they would follow the PS3's suit, and the voice of gamer's. In turn it also ignited our worst fears. The DRM would remain intact if developers wanted to embed it into their games. Doing this would allow developers to control what titles can and can't be traded in via the online registration, something that PC gamer's have grown accustomed to, and something that may soon be the same for console gamer's on PS4. With this also comes the danger of hurting a promised relationship to their consumers, freedom of playing games, and the ability to share them. All of the mentioned is something that remains huge in the gaming community thanks to businesses like GameStop, Amazon, Best Buy, and various other retailers that support the used game market. This is truly something that has peaked a tad bit of concern among the gaming community and could ultimately push some towards the XBox One without realizing the damage dealt. 

Discontinue add showing GameStops support for used games
  On the companies PS4 forums they let out an open statement saying that similar to the PS3 we know today, PlayStation 4 will not have any gating restrictions on used disc-based games. When we the gaming community buy a PS4 disc, we have the right to use that copy of the game, so that we can trade-in the said title at retail, sell it to another person, lend it to a friend, or even keep it for all times. This also means players will not have to go through activation steps or be charged using fees when playing the used titles on our PlayStation 4's when they become available. This still brings forth the question, why would they allow the companies to decide DRM, is that not contradicting what they've previously stated? This is of course a concern.

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Authors Note: This version has been edited unlike the one Blast Away the Game Review. It does remain copyrighted and protected by myself and Blast Away the Game Review.

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