PS4 Reviews And The Real Launch Of Next-Gen


As I type this people are probably waiting in line for a PS4 but by the time this goes up it’ll probably have been out for around 18 hours. This might be a bit of a retread on covered subjects, but there seems to be a fair bit of surprise going around about mixed review scores for the PS4’s launch exclusives.

I’ll admit that I haven’t read any reviews for Knack or Killzone Shadow Fall, only seen comments and numbers saying they’re pretty mediocre. The highest-rated exclusive seems to be Resogun. I can’t really comment on the actual quality of those games, but I’ll just say it wouldn’t be surprising. These are launch games after all. I did a whole post a while ago about how truly great launch software is the exception, not the rule. This is especially typical for PlayStation consoles.

What is slightly unusual to me is how the highest-rated games in the next-gen launch lineups seem to be the third party multiplatform cross-generation titles. Usually with new consoles these kinds of games tend to be the least interesting because they’re mostly old-generation games ported to the new-generation with slight enhancements. This is true for some PS4 and Xbox One games, but for a lot of others it’s the opposite.

A while further back I did a post on how a lot of 3rd parties seem to be sliding right in to next-gen hardware, making games that don’t feel like unpolished launch software. I think it’s because of the length of this past console generation — companies like EA have had essentially next-gen graphics engines ready for two years, but no new consoles on which to flex them. Just look at the PC versions of games like Battlefield, Crysis, Hitman, Metro, BioShock Infinite, and The Witcher from the past couple years. It’s like EA, Crytek, Eidos, 4A Games, and CDProjekt were already next-gen two years ago, and Sony and Microsoft are just now catching up to them.

Yeah some of these games like Assassin’s Creed IV really are just enhanced current-gen games, but an unusual amount are next-gen games trying to release current-gen SKUs as well like Battlefield 4, THIEF, or Watch_Dogs. I would not be surprised if the most popular launch games ended up being the third party stuff, including sports games, not the first party exclusives. The one exception to this is probably gonna be Forza 5.

That leads to the question: when are the next-gen exclusive killer apps gonna come? When I ask this I’m not talking about subjective quality, personal taste, or whatever game is gonna make you personally get the new consoles. I’m talking about what exclusives actually have a chance of moving units. Knack and Killzone aren’t gonna move PS4s. Shiny new PS4’s are gonna move copies of those two games just like shiny new Xbox 360’s moved copies of Perfect Dark Zero (not a comment on the relative quality of those games). What game is actually gonna bring in all the people who are waiting?

For the Xbox One, Titanfall is the obvious first contender, but I honestly don’t see such a game on the horizon for PS4 yet. It’s weird y’know: Sony definitely seems to have the upper hand in marketing and pre-order numbers, but I still think console generations are ultimately decided by hit software, and I have to admit I see more right now on Xbox One than on PS4. There are a lot of factors playing into that though.

For starters I think this past generation has kind of brought a change with the increase in multiplatform games. The biggest hit this gen has been Call of Duty — a multiplatform franchise. Let’s say next-year’s COD is next-gen-only (it probably won’t be). Based on where the mindshare is now, is it reasonable to assume more people would buy it on PS4? What if the next major franchise to take the crown from COD is also multiplatform? There have been massive multiplatform franchises in the past, but I’m not sure there has been one early in a console cycle that evenly increased sales of all the competing platforms it released on.

Even if that first mindshare-changing game is an exclusive, it’s probably way further out in the future than we can see right now. Titanfall comes out in March, but we really don’t know anything going on beyond perhaps quarter 2 or quarter 3 2014. Sony’s exclusive hit could be right around the corner from there. I keep coming back to describing how the PS2 didn’t have an interesting lineup of games until a year after its launch.

Thinking back to the PS1, to me that system felt like little more than an interesting novelty for perhaps the first two years of its life. It was nice to look at the CD-ROMs, the polygons, and the FMV cut scenes in 1995, but I didn’t really feel the desire to own the system until Final Fantasy VII put all those elements together in a compelling way in 1997, setting the standard for what PS1 gaming was all about. Right now almost every notable PS4 and Xbox One game is cross-generation — an enhanced current-gene game, including Destiny and Ttianfall. Who knows how long it’ll take for some PS4 exclusive to show up and truly draw the line in everyone’s consciousness between the new generation and the old.


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3 thoughts on “PS4 Reviews And The Real Launch Of Next-Gen

  1. Somewhere, Yoshida-san is kicking himself over DriveClub being delayed into 2014. I’m pretty sure that the Xbox One will have better reviewed exclusives- Forza 5 is a given, but I’m confident Killer Instinct will suprise some.

  2. […] PS4 Reviews And The Real Launch Of Next-Gen ( […]

  3. […] PS4 Reviews And The Real Launch Of Next-Gen ( […]

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