PlayStation 4 and Xbox One have launched in most territories now to varying levels of fanfare. VG247’s Dave Cook reflects on both launches and look forward to what next year might bring.
”A lot can happen in a year though, so to call out a winning format now would be tantamount to being an antagonistic prick. What I see now is less of that bullish aggro, and those redundant schoolyard scraps behind the internet’s sports shed. People are actually excited.”
The ‘worst’ is now over. Seriously, I think I may get ‘2013’ engraved on my tombstone when I die. No name, no epitaph, just those numbers. People mourning at my funeral will know what it means. They’ll know.
Yes, it’s been an insanely busy year, what with all the rumours about how many Nega-Flops AMD’s tactical nuclear chip-sets are capable of, and how many clouds you can fit into a single internet pipe. Analysts, desperate to raise the profile of their firms plucked numbers from arse in a bid to whip gamers into a frenzy of gen-war squabbling, leading them to flog one another with flails made from frame-rate statistics. The term ‘1080p’ was initiated into the Oxford Dictionary by Britain’s brightest literary agents, along with the description, ‘who the fuck cares?’ I hear the post-ceremony buffet was excellent, but a little fuzzy.
What an absolute ball-ache it’s been, but here we are still standing, ready to sit down and play the bloody things. As is tradition, you’ll now start to see both Sony and Microsoft whipping out post-launch sales stats, online user metrics and teasers for their respective 2014 release slates. So when you think about it really, this frenzy one-upping the competition has only just begun. Meanwhile, Nintendo has been dubbed “irrelevant,” by the former steward of a now-defunct company.
PlayStation 4 was first out the traps, chasing the money hare to North America where it managed to shift over a million units in just 24-hours. The console’s UK release yielded 250,000 sales and – when combined with the totals from Europe, Australia and New Zealand – accounts for 2.1 million PS4 consoles sold worldwide. It may surprise you to learn that this is not a small number. Then, Xbox One launched on November 22 and achieved over a million units in its first 24-hours. We haven’t heard much on how it’s doing since then however. The press release must have got stuck in the cloud.
Forgetting about numbers and all of that knee-jerking, number-crunching twattery for now, how have both console launches fared from a general public angle? You’re the people playing these machines after all. It’s been one of those ‘tit-for-tat’ affairs, in which both sides hit a snag or two, but largely, nothing seems to have imploded just yet and you all seem to be having fun with your shiny new toys. For many people, I imagine there to be a sense of relief that the new generation is finally here at long last.
PS4’s Twitch streaming is a revelation, even if you choose to ignore it. It’s absence is abundant on Xbox One. Microsoft really needs to get that in place, stat. I’ve also noticed that Sony has released new games since its console launched. Sure they’re self-published indie affairs, but the Xbox One slate remains static. That ID@Xbox thing also needs to happen soon. I know, it sounds like I’m totally wanking over PS4 right now, but know this, my favourite next-gen title so far is confidently Dead Rising 3, an Xbox One exclusive, on Xbox One. Ooh, controversy.
But really, from this side of the fence I’ve never once in all my seven years of writing words about games seen such a new-found enthusiasm from the console hobby. Gone is the incessant pissing and moaning about how old console games were looking, or how ‘sequelitis’ was in danger of becoming a real, airborne virus. All I see now is passion, even if that passion is being used to keep flame-wars burning well into the night. It’s passion nonetheless, and at a time where financials were dropping like those frames you love to argue about so much, that’s definitely a good thing.
We moan about money, and monetisation often. It has caused Microsoft a deal of backlash since Xbox One launched. Forza Motorsport 5 wears cash on its sleeve, while the Ryse: Son of Rome model seems largely rug-swept. Money – as they say – makes the world go round, and without us pumping coins into the industry’s glowing red slot, we wouldn’t have games to play. Well to be fair, if that happened we’d probably just start makng them ourselves, self-publish through Unity and growing fat, corrupt and enter into annual sequel cycles, but you know what I mean.
PS4’s biggest gripe seems to be the lack of first-party titles compared to Xbox One’s slate. I’m pretty certain that no PlayStation 4 owner is losing sleep over the reportedly wank Fighter Within mind you, but still, exclusives are exclusives on a press release. The delay of Driveclub did give us Resogun and Contrast for free at launch however, and they seem to be going down well. Pat’s even writing a blog on the former. Stay tuned for that one soon.
Still, doesn’t Driveclub look lovely? Maybe the delay isn’t all that bad after all? It’s a common ‘thing’ in this industry. Do you want it now, or do you want it done right? If the internet had its way we’d all be playing broken, unfinished games – aside from of Skyrim and Fallout: New Vegas I mean. That’s what 2014 is all about really, the software. Both sides have compelling prospects such as inFamous: Second Son, Halo 5, Titanfall, Quantum Break and more. In fact, Microsoft seems to be holding most of the cards. Titanfall’s card is 30 feet tall and has a picture of a robot on it. Seriously. It’s good.
A lot can happen in a year though, so to call out a winning format now would be tantamount to being an antagonistic prick. What I see now is less of that bullish aggro, and those redundant schoolyard scraps behind the internet’s sports shed. People are actually excited to see what happens down the line, and many gamers are holding off from their next-gen purchase until this time next year. That’s a great thing, it really is.
It means many people feel there’s no clear winner yet. That suggests we have two strong new consoles on our hands capable of enthusing and entertaining us for the next seven years. Meanwhile Nivdia says that the PC format is “far superior to any console,” so who the buggery knows what’s going on. Maybe we’re all just inherently wrong, deeply flawed people?