Video games have come a long way. From 2D or vector graphics and only a few sprites on-screen to thousands of polygons and near realistic gameplay. When I had a Nintendo 64, I just needed to plug-in one of my four or five cartridges into the slot on top and play. Currently, it’s not that different. I slide the disc into my PS3 or Xbox 360 and click play and jump into the action. Sometimes with a multiplayer game, I would need to type a 20 character registration code with mild annoyance to play online.
With the new console generation coming up, anything could be happening. We know that the Xbox One won’t be needing the 24-hour check in, but that could really change at any time within the console’s lifespan. Since there was no real failure, we don’t know whether or not Microsoft has learned its lesson. Sony’s PS4, on the other hand, seems to have a clear lead in the wake of Microsoft’s PR disaster. Although, Sony hasn’t had a proper viewpoint on DRM, I’m pretty sure that we can trust that after seeing Microsoft’s recent heel-turn, they aren’t going to be doing anything similar.
Let’s think for a moment about why there was such a backlash against Microsoft’s almost always online system. Up until this recent console generation, most people have been playing offline. From the Atari 3600 to the Playstation, games have been offline and almost every single one didn’t allow an internet connection. Because of this, many gamers have gotten used to a system that has the capability to be played offline. It’s convenient and many more people can play games. Although much of America and many other countries have good broadband penetration, creating a system that requires an online connection is rather implausible for the many that don’t. Microsoft obviously thought that they could cut out a piece of the market without any damages. They seemed to make a console for a non-existent market. One that loved the “cloud”, watched live TV, and had a great internet connection. Although there are people who would like that, they are most likely trying to be too far ahead of the curve.
Now let’s look at what Sony seems to be doing right. They don’t want to be the thing in between you and your TV like how Microsoft is doing. Sony wants to compliment your living space with games and social media, this made evident by the fact that there is a dedicated Share button on the controller. Sony’s PS4 even tries to support smaller companies to get their games on the console. Anybody could publish a game on their marketplace. They even sent development kits to universities. That means that more people can make games for the PS4 without a strict publisher-developer relationship that Microsoft forces. Some independent games that made a splash on the stage at E3 were Octodad, Outlast, and Don’t Starve along with a few others. Those definitely won’t be the last.
Another big factor in Sony’s plan for the PS4 is supporting their older games through Gaikai instead of advertising the PS3. Now that Microsoft did it’s 180 on the Xbox One, the head start Sony seems to have had is a little smaller. With the effect of the DRM and used games that will stick on Microsoft and the couple of things that Sony is doing that Microsoft isn’t though, I’m predicting that the PS4 will probably be coming out on top for at least this generation.