I should admit upfront that I’m not a big fan of these big-time game industry concert/reveals. I feel like they’re overly-hyped, excessively produced, and are never fully indicative of what a player is actually going to experience when purchasing a new product. This tends to be true across the board for the industry. Unless a developer releases real in-game footage like in a developer diary or gives players a demo, most of the time what you see is not at all what you get.
Take for example what happened with Aliens: Colonial Marines last week, after revealing what looked like some really beautiful “in-game” screenshots the reality ended up being anything but. I think Sony’s PS4 unveiling last night was a lot like this, showing off the highly polished version of everything in order to create the hype and hope for the upcoming console. That’s not to say that everything they showed off was bad, but when it comes to big events like this I like to take everything with a grain of salt.
No Console? No Big Deal.
Who needs Photoshop when you’ve got MS Paint?
The elephant in the room last night was obviously the lack of Sony’s PS4 unveil actually unveiling the console itself. While I think that not showing the actual console is silly, I really don’t think it’s as important as some are making it out to be. Those who are looking to buy the console aren’t doing so because it will look good sitting underneath their television sets. These days, consumers are asking more questions about services and not what the console actually looks like. Strategically, it does allow them to get some additional hype down the road, especially considering Microsoft will soon be stealing the spotlight when they unveil their next-gen console. It may be lame or even cheap in a way, but by not showing off the console last night they’ve kept their ace in the hole to draw the media attention back onto themselves pretty much whenever they choose.
Last Night was not the Night to talk about Polygons.
The lights go dim, the crowd sits in hushed anticipation, and David Cage from Quantic Dream enters the stage to talk about their plans for the next-gen; sounds like a good time to talk about polygons, right? Technical details are great for developers and tech-savvy fans, but most players don’t really care how you got there. Quantic Dream’s part of last night’s event showed pretty much nothing except a giant face of an old man made using 30K polygons. That’s not to say that the tech isn’t impressive or even revolutionary, who knows, but last night was not the night to give a highly technical address to fans that were really just hoping to hear about a new game. Cage went on and on about how great this technology is and how they can now show “limitless emotions” with an increased polygon count, yet their demo was of this weird old man just staring outward showing little to no emotion at all. As Reddit reminded me last night, Polygons don’t make emotion, good story telling does. I’m not saying Quantic Dream isn’t capable of emotion, but just telling me about it, with an emotionless head floating in the background, isn’t enough. Instead of telling me about it, they should have showed it to me.
We’ll Tell you about Whether or not you can Play Used Games Tomorrow
Freak out averted, kind of.
No seriously, one of the biggest discussions floating around the last couple of weeks was over rumors that the PS4 would restrict used games. Just the fact that the idea was out there, even if it was unsubstantiated by Sony, was enough to get the debate started. As last night’s event continued with little to no mention as to whether or not the rumors were true, I began to think that they were avoiding the issue because there were indeed planning on it. Then today I woke up and read on Eurogamer that this wasn’t the case and players would not be restricted in playing used games on the PS4. I don’t know why they chose not to mention it last night. Perhaps they felt it just wasn’t the forum for that kind of information or they simply hadn’t decided, but either way it shows a true lack of understanding as to what people are looking for in an event like this. It might not have the pizzazz of a new trailer or fancy new graphics, but when the community is up in arms about something like this and it isn’t mentioned, it makes those holding the event look out of touch as to what people want to know. We had a ten minute lecture on tech and polygons and we can’t get ten seconds to squash a nasty rumor?
Streaming Older PlayStation Titles is a Start, but it Might not be Enough
Hopefully this image doesn’t represent the future of the PS4.
On its surface the idea of streaming older PS1, PS2, and PS3 titles straight to the PS4 sounds like an awesome idea and it is to some extent. However the devil is in the details as they say and this feature can either be really good or really bad depending on how some of the details pan out. First, there’s a big difference between streaming and downloading, if the title could be downloaded, say for a small price, then I think that this would be a great idea, but only being allowed to stream these games leaves those with crummy internet connections out in the cold. There’s also no word as to whether players will have to pay for these titles, although I bet that will have more to do with how old or how popular the title is. There’s simply not enough information about this feature to form an accurate opinion about it. As I said it is a start, but if it turns out players need to pay to stream titles they already own then it’s a really crummy solution for backwards compatibility.
Did we all just Beta Test Diablo III for Consoles without Knowing about it?
As you can tell by the crowd’s reaction, everyone was a bit surprised, and not in a good way, to see Blizzard’s Senior VP, Chris Metzen, up on the stage last night. If you turn up the volume you can almost hear the crickets as he walked on stage in front of the Blizzard logo. After a rather long winded explanation he unveiled that Diablo III would be making its way to the PS4, the crowd throwing out about 20 claps as the video ended. At the time I was confused, the game itself still feels barely finished on the PC, especially after they scrapped their often promised PvP system. After reading through the Blizzard forums however, it appears as those this may have been the plan for the game all along. The topic has been deleted, but Kotaku posted some important aspects of the thread before it went down, and it does make a strong case for Diablo III having been planned for consoles all along.
The list is rather short but it does outline some features about Diablo III that make it an almost perfect fit for consoles. Perhaps this is the reason PC fans generally didn’t enjoy the game as much as its predecessor. It also gives an explanation as to why the game didn’t feel finished when it was released; it actually wasn’t finished. If they did plan on shooting for the next-gen all along then that makes their release of the game on PCs as one big beta test to work out bugs and receive feedback before releasing it for consoles. I know, I know I’m getting a little conspiracy theory about Diablo III, but it is a simple and logical explanation as to what went “wrong” with their PC release.
I honestly didn’t mean to be all negative about last night’s event, but it really did leave me with more questions than answers. Microsoft is probably fine tuning their event as we speak in order to avoid a torrent of golf claps at their upcoming next-gen unveiling. Perhaps the reality of the PS4 will not be what was shown last night, but if their event was designed to get everyone psyched about it, they still have a long way to go.