So Japan Finally Decided To Arrive To The PS4

Honestly, what I saw from Sony’s pre-Tokyo Game Show 2014 conference has already exceeded my expectations in terms of PlayStation 4 support from Japanese developers. I’m still not sure if what we’ve seen so far will lead directly to big PS4 sales in that country (or those games being successful elsewhere), but it’s a decent start.

The PS4 seems to be performing well beyond Sony’s initial expectations with 10 million consoles sold worldwide. Sony admits not even fully understand why it’s selling so quickly. Members of the system’s initial game lineup like Infamous: Second SonKillzone: Shadow Fall, and The Last of Us Remastered have already sold over a million copies each. This success is happening everywhere but Japan, where the PS4 is trending behind the slow-selling Wii U. It’s easy to understand why, even beyond the fact the PS4 currently has almost no games that appeal to Japan — the Japanese market is in the process of pretty much abandoning home consoles. But still, not only does Sony want the PS4 to succeed there, people like me just want to see what Japanese developers can do with modern hardware.

Understandably, most of what was at that conference was cross-generation, being made for both PS4 and PS3, or PS4 and PlayStation Vita. Japanese developers have at least as much reason to do this as all the western ones who’ve been making games cross-generation for the last year (and will still be doing it next year). A handful of the games we’ve seen for the PS4 do interest me though. Bladestorm: The Hundred Years War & Nightmare in particular looks like the game that might benefit the most from being made on PS4. It’s a strategy game about doing battle with hundreds of characters in real time which could understandably put the new console’s more powerful CPU to use. Hopefully that was real time gameplay footage they showed in the trailer. The real crown jewel of Sony’s Japanese PS4 lineup so far however has been Bloodborne.  Indeed, for a lot of people Bloodborne might be the PS4’s crown jewel period. When I look at the recent direct-feed footage of that game I see basically everything I want from Japanese game developers in 2015: lovingly-crafted art direction backed up by an advanced graphics engine along with visceral but dangerous gameplay. To be honest, If I bought a PS4 at any time within the next 12 months, it would be primarily and almost exclusively for that game.

The thing is, Bloodborne, like almost everything else Sony has shown so far on the Japanese end, is niche. I really want Bloodborne, some hardcore fans really want Bloodborne, and I could definitely also go for the PS4 versions of other games like Persona 5 and Ryu Ga Gotoku Zero. I also get the appeal of games like GundamOmega QuintetFairy Fencer F, that upcoming Neptunia game, and a new Ys, but I’m not convinced of their sales potential in broad terms, for the Japanese or western markets. To me right now this largely looks like Sony placating its most hardcore base. That’s fine, but I think it can do that at least on the western side because the company knows its backed up by guaranteed bigger hits like Destiny or Uncharted 4.

Of course the obvious upcoming Japanese big-hitters, Final Fantasy XV and Kingdom Hearts III, haven’t shown up yet as a matter of simple physics and Square Enix’s own slow pace as a company. People are probably still holding their breaths waiting to hear what platform Dragon Quest XI will hit too. I also still think Sony lost a big one when Capcom decided to put the Monster Hunter franchise on Nintendo systems for the time being.

And yet, I expected almost nothing for the new consoles at TGS this year and I’m already surprised with what’s there. At the very least what we’ve seen so far is a decent start that Sony should definitely try to build on next year.

BULLETS:

  • I knew Disgaea 5 was going to be a PS4 game. I also know it’s probably not going to look very different from the PS3 and PS2 games before it. Oh it’ll probably be in 1080p and might even have slightly better-looking character sprites, but they’ll probably still be 2D character sprites sitting on top of a board made of cubes.
  • Peevers about language. http://t.co/nmMfoKSqH6
  • Every wonder why graphing calculators haven’t really changed in 10 years? We didn’t even have iPhones 10 years ago. http://t.co/ukiqwB6hAO
  • Good explanation of why games are often revealed so early in their development. http://t.co/RGG5MKo4Da
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