[Old] Thoughts on the [new] PS4

During a recent review of the contents of a couple old USB drives that I had forgotten that I stashed away, I found a handful of articles that I had written for a site that went defunct. Since I hate for words to sit unread (even those in incoherent, rambly sentences), I decided I might as well share them here. In a little over a month, the PlayStation 4 will be celebrating its fourth birthday. Waaaaay back in March 2013, a couple weeks after the PS4 was first announced, I wrote up this post detailing my thoughts on the new console.

Huh. I never did play Destiny or Watch Dogs. Funny thing, that.

By Evan-Amos (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Now that some of the PlayStation 4 hype has died down, I figured it’d be the perfect time to inject my two cents, pence, pesos, or whatever currency you so desire. For the sake of transparency, I’ve previously stated that I don’t plan to be in the market for any next gen consoles. This fact hasn’t changed. Yet, even though I’m not riding shotgun on the PS4 bandwagon, I was sincerely impressed by Sony’s presentation.  The whole conference was both exact and vague, where some questions were answers and many more were left hanging in the rafters. All the demos and images showed promise. There was plenty of hyperbolizing, but no proselytizing. The two hours went by quickly and there was no downtime between sets. So back to my two cents. Taking into some of the PS4 news that has transpired over the past week, let’s talk about a few key points that I’ll parse out under those that I find less exciting and those that I find more exciting.

Less exciting:

“Social gaming”
It’s taken me awhile to really get into social media; but I get it now, and I try my best to utilize social media semi-regularly. But social gaming? I mean, I guess I get that too. I guess interacting with “real” “live” friends during games is something people want to do, but what sounded fishy to me was the notion of letting friends take over a game for you.  So there I am, totally stuck in some super hard boss level and I just can’t figure out how to beat it. No worries, I’ll just “hand over my controller” to my friend Jimmy in Toronto so he can play for me. That just sounds weird, and a little…I don’t know….intrusive? Um…hello? Can I get a little privacy, Sony? If you can let you friends can take over your game, what’s to say something…else…beyond your control…won’t somehow be able do the same? (*cue spooky music*)

This point wasn’t dwelled upon over the course of the presentation, but there was mention of all the “new” ways Sony could provide game content to consumers. Microtransactions did come up, as well as episodic and free-to-play games.  I dislike DLC as it is, so needless to say the notion of not getting a full game off the bat irks me. But that’s the old-school gamer in me rearing its head — you youngins are just out to nickel and dime me! And get off my lawn while you’re at it! It also reminds me of Shareware. Remember that? Get part of a game for free and then, if you like it, go out and buy the full game. We once had tons of Shareware PC games. After trying, how many full games did I actually buy? Two.

No actual PS4 shown 
For all the hype surrounding the conference, I think most people, including myself, expected to see some sort of physical device.  Yeah, the controller…whoop-dee-doo. Its images were leaked weeks before the event. Sure to was nice to hear more about what the thing could do, but it would have been really nice to see it interact with something…anything.  I understand that maybe the PS4 device might not be fully ready. (But…c’mon…in the retail world, the holiday season isn’t all that far away, so I have a hard time believing the thing isn’t really ready). And Sony has a right to be super-protective of its creations. And E3 is around the corner and maybe they’re waiting for something to compete with Microsoft’s impending next-gen console announcement. But the lack of an actual console brought the conference to a fizzling finale rather than resounding end.

More exciting:

Everything looks so pretty 
It’s hard to argue with all the beautifulness that was on display. The Unreal 4 and Illusion engines were something to behold. Faces llok real-er(?), backgrounds pop from the screens, environments look full, lush, and rich. Everything just sweetly beckoned even the most aggressive Sony opposers into the realm of the PS4’s abilities. No doubt, it will be a powerful machine. And with great power comes great responsibility, right? Let’s hope that the developers really do treat it like the godsend they and Sony have claimed it to be.

Destiny and Watch Dogs
Of everything I saw, those were the two titles that really captured my attention. There’s been plenty of news surrounding these games recently, especially Destiny, so I don’t think they presentation revealed anything new…except maybe the Watch Dogs footage? That was new to me anyway; and if I’m saving my pennies for anything (outside of GTA V), it’s that game. (It’s coming out for the PS3 though, right?) As for Destiny, I’m probably a little more intrigued by the story than the actual game, but it seems like it might be “the” game that will show the PS4 in its best and most flattering light.

Used games 
Initially, I wanted to write this off as one of the less exciting points; however, since last Wednesday, it’s been reported that PS4 will not block used games, and that Sony will continue to use Blu-Ray discs as a primary means of game distribution. Why these facts were not stated at the conference I don’t know, but it would have been nice to hear it live from someone’s mouth. However, since there still is an overall emphasis in the industry on digital distribution, the issue is still out there. Sure, the fervor has died down for the moment, and Gamefly and Gamestop can heave big sighs of relief, so used games are safe…for now. And that makes me happy…for now.

There, I came out on an even keel, three to three.  But we’ll see how the boat rocks as the year progresses. With E3 on the horizon, more news — good, great, and less than great —  is sure to come our way

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