The future of PS4 – the race to ‘win’ next-gen is a marathon, not a sprint
Queuing at midnight to snatch up your new PS4, the delicate removal of pristine console from unsullied box, the infantile surge of inner happiness when a menu screen stares back at you for the first time… the launch of a new console is a magical, almost life-altering event. Because this little cube of electronics will be your bosom buddy for the next six or seven years, guaranteed to deliver endless joy and never answer back, no matter how controversial your views on football or politics or Game Of Thrones. (“You were right, Walder Frey. They had it coming.”)
The future of PS4 – the next-gen race is a marathon, not a sprint
Note the words ‘six or seven years’. Just as a new puppy isn’t merely for Christmas, so a console isn’t bought with two weeks of hardcore play and then a trip back to Game in mind. And as such, for all the fuss made about launch lineups, the list of day-one games is barely relevant in the bigger picture. That’s not to say knowing what you’ll be able to play isn’t hugely exciting; merely that every internet post between now and November pitting PS4’s launch lineup against Xbox One’s may as well be written in Latin and attached face-down to a fridge. Compiling a must-own suite of games, and selling consoles on the back of said catalogue, is a long-term project – making the race to ‘win’ next-gen a marathon, not a sprint.
Praise for Sony was universal after E3, with gamers delighted that PS4 would play used games and cost £349, 80 sheets less than Xbox One. But for the ultra-critical, the one mild disappointment was the lack of a new game reveal from Naughty Dog or Quantic Dream (impressive The Dark Sorcerer tech demo notwithstanding), rightly seen as the cream of the crop in studio terms. No Uncharted 4. or Singularity (the rumoured name of David Cage’s next game) at launch = advantage Xbox, said the negative Nellies.
They couldn’t be more wrong. Great though Beyond looks, no one is going to pay 400 quid solely to play the follow-up – just as no potential Xboxer will shell out the national average of a week’s wages solely to sample Dead Rising 3. Individual games do matter, but as part of a wider selection. Early adopters will buy two or three to accompany their new machine, meaning the onus is on choice and quality across a variety of genres, rather than delivering one specific big-hitter.
And in PS4 terms, day-one choice looks plentiful: Killzone: Shadow Fall, Battlefield 4 and Call Of Duty: Ghosts if your thing is blasting men/fugly extra-terrestrials in the face. Need For Speed: Rivals and Driveclub for car nuts. Watch Dogs and Assassin’s Creed 4 for open-world shenanigans. Every half-decent sports game under the sun (plus NBA Live 14) if cursing last-minute equalisers is how you spend your Saturdays.
By the time you’ve powered through that lot, we should know what Naughty Dog has been up and whether it’s gone for The Last Of Us 2, Uncharted 4, or something new entirely. Maybe even new installments of iconic series: God Of War 5 or and LBP 3, for example. It’s those games, and others pencilled in for 2014-15 (hello again, MGS 5) that will shape PS4’s future – not ones being completed within the next few weeks. So if that launch lineup doesn’t inspire, 1) you’re mad, but 2) don’t fret. Like winter, the games are coming. But unlike events in Westeros, they’re guaranteed not to break your heart.