E3 was a bit of a surprise for those of us watching the Sony Conference this year. With constant worries regarding game authentication in the battle of corporation versus consumer, many gamers across the globe were worried that the pre-owned market would cease to exist. So when Jack Tretton came out on stage, stating that Sony were fully supporting the rights of their consumers to buy, sell, lend and trade the next generation of games, the crowd literally gave a standing ovation.
This was something you don't often see consumers do, but when you have a concept in mind, sometimes it's better to take bigger and bolder risks than just seeming like any other company out there, wanting to grab every penny possible from their consumers, regardless of whether it means neglecting or taking your fanbase for a ride.
From this comment alone, Sony appeared to the world as heroes, with many Xbox fans shifting their loyalty over to the new and yet to be released Playstation 4. After all of the negative points made during the Microsoft Conference which is more than I can list here, it seemed that Microsoft really shot themselves in the foot. Thankfully for remaining fans however, Microsoft have since removed this idea in what seems like an attempt to grab back their fans even if it meant copying Sony's idea to focus on their consumers more, following the huge backlash their original concept created.
Starting at £349 (that's $399 to our friends over in America) the PlayStation 4 is $100 cheaper than Microsoft's Xbox One. It's also said to be "much easier to develop for" and has a huge focus on supporting Indie developers, no doubt to broaden the reach with potential consumers who otherwise may lack interest or have little time in their schedule for the lengthier and more demanding AAA titles out there.
A big downer for me with the PlayStation 4 however, is that Sony have since scrapped free online play, having now introduced a mandatory subscription based scheme much akin to Xbox Live Gold accounts meaning that the only way you'll gain access to the vast amount of Multiplayer features within every upcoming PS4 title is by purchasing subscribing to PlayStation Plus. Read more on that here.
Falling back ever so slightly to our current generation consoles, what made the PlayStation 3 a huge selling point for me was the fact that online play was free and with backwards compatibility allowing me to play my 90+ PS2 games, the launch console was my ideal choice for this generation of gaming. Yet, it wasn't long before Sony scrapped this backwards compatibility idea in favour of re-selling your old titles to you over the PS Store.
It's not hard to see that this would cause concern for a lot of fans and when you add this to the fact that all launch models of the 60gb PS3 began to break around the same time, you start to question whether or not purchasing a console as it's just released is actually a good idea. I mean do we buy the PlayStation 4 on the day of its release, when for all we know it might have a major defect and break a year or two down the line?Or do we buy it later on when undoubtedly a thinner, cheaper and more reliable system becomes available? As a gamer and journalist, I pretty much have to buy the PlayStation 4 on release, but I hope Sony have learned their lesson from the mistakes they made with the PlayStation 3, because as consumers, if we pour a lot of money into something, we want a lot in return and a functioning product that's reliable for a very long period of time is something that we deserve. This year however, Sony put on a good show and although the PlayStation 4 looks like some kind of miniature transformer (more Decepticon than Autobot), Jack Tretton delivered their message across well and it looks as though Microsoft have a lot to live up to and contend with.
Will we see Backwards Compatibility later down the line? Will we be able to once again play our most treasured titles (Final Fantasy 8 and 9 on the PS1, Devil May Cry and God Hand on the PS2 for example) from disc once again? It's unlikely, but I'm sure consumers would appreciate that level of fan service (if such features surfaced), even for a low price.
What also has me excited is the fact that Sony have seemingly strived to make the console a lot more user-friendly to develop for, which is something the PS3 heavily complicated. What does this mean for us? Well I personally hope that it means both big and small gaming studio's can experiment a lot more with their titles and concepts, paving way for the return of quirky, fun and unusual titles that were once thriving back in the days of the PS2 era. Examples of this are games like God Hand, Gitaroo Man, Jojo's Bizarre Adventure and Chu Chu Rocket.
The problem with this though, is that although you would think this were possible due to the Playstation 4 being a much easier console to develop for than the PS3, the cost to develop games are still constantly increasing with graphical and technical demand, so it remains unlikely that companies would risk their money on the production of out of the box, weird or wacky titles. This saddens me, but there have been a lot of great looking titles announced for the console so far and the best news that came from E3 for me was that Final Fantasy Versus XIII is still in development (though re-dubbed as Final Fantasy 15 now), Kingdom Hearts 3 is now in development and Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is looking to be a fantastic masterpiece, possibly becoming the pinnacle of the series.
I'd really like to see a return of experimental titles though, because I love games that utilise their own stylised graphics such as Viewtiful Joe, Final Fantasy 12 and Okami, and I'm also a strong believer in that games shouldn't always be about graphics. I feel that's a big issue in the industry today and would happily purchase a game with unrealistic, stylised graphics so long as the art style's enjoyable, the game's fun and the characters featured within are all likable.
Regardless, we're only four months away from Playstation 4's release and whether we're welcomed to a new world of fantastical ideas, games and concepts or just presented with the same fun, tried and tested titles, it's an exciting time for gamers right now and I hope that the PS4 succeeds in providing a fresh, revitalised experience for new and old fans alike. All I can say is bring on December!
Share the same thoughts on the PlayStation 4? Maybe you have a different opinion? Let us know in the comments section below or tweet me - @CaptainCortez