melancholy wrote:you can use the console completely offline if you want
Really, this is something that shouldn't even be in question, not something to get excited about.
This too. The one thing I do like about the age of digital distribution is that it's helped open the door to smaller developers, less-standard projects, and greater price flexibility.
Just a graphics update was enough to sell me, honestly. This generation is so pathetically out of date that I practically abandoned console games last year in favor of their PC counterparts.
Maybe it's just because I haven't kept up with PC gaming the last several years, but this past hardware generation kind of reached the point where it's "good enough" visually that a graphics boost alone isn't going to do much for me.
The PS4 seems to be on the right track so far. I'm probably going to preorder, which isn't surprising considering the PS3 was my favorite console of last generation. Sony sucked balls for the first 4 years of the PS3's life, and they are finally coming around to being a competitive game company again.
I wouldn't say the first four years, but yeah, they did make a giant mess of the PS3 launch. That said, the system surprised me by being my favorite platform of this last generation by far. To be fair, though, the PS3 is an incredibly good piece of hardware considering its age, and I'm kind of sorry they're not continuing to evolve its architecture.
1. This isn't just a minor upgrade, the PS4 is centered around completely different architecture. Games on the PSN will literally have to be reworked to run on the new x86 format. So while I'm positive a handful of PSN games will be recompiled and thrown up on the PS4's network to make a couple quick bucks, the majority of the games playable on the PS3 simply won't even exist on the PS4.
The way I see it, WE as the consumers SHOULDN'T have to consider that. Sony decided to switch architectures? Fine, but any drawbacks to that decision are THEIR problem to deal with, not mine. It's up to them to create a product that meets the needs and interests of their user base; they're obviously free to choose any system architecture they want for that, but if they spend seven years pushing people on the idea that downloading games is just as good as buying them in hard copy, it's THEIR problem if people get understandably concerned when they announce plans for a replacement product that won't handle any of those games.
It's not the same as the NES/SNES jump, for two reasons. First, though they have been trying to de-emphasize it some these past couple of years, backwards compatibility has always been a significant part of the PlayStation brand. But that's a whole separate discussion. Second, and more importantly: digital downloads have been sold to the public as being "as good as" / "better than" physical copies, but moves like this show just how inferior they can be when mismanaged. When you upgrade from NES to SNES, you still have all these NES cartridges that can be played on the right hardware, even if not on the SNES. You can either keep them to play on other hardware, or sell/trade/give them away, either with the system or separately. You bought them, and you still have that library to do whatever with. With a digital download tied to your account, if you move that account to a platform where that title "doesn't exist," then that entire library of games you've bought, spending however many tens or hundreds of dollars cumulatively, also "doesn't exist" for all intents and purposes. And since you have to have your account set up on any hardware they're installed on in order for them to work, you can't sell or trade or even give them away unless you're willing to give someone else access to your PSN account as well.
Of course, this assumes you're not planning to keep your PS3 as well... but Sony has always sold each new PlayStation with the specific argument that it is a "replacement" for the previous model (and this actually relates to the backwards compatibility issue, as that's always been part of making that case; at each new PlayStation launch until now, people upgrading have been able to rest assured that all their old games will still be able to play on the new system), and the credit for selling off an old system is part of the budget for a significant percentage of buyers.
It also significantly hurts the market for early adopters, as those older games give players a reason to use the system for that first year or so before the platform has started to establish a library of its own. We got a Wii U for Christmas, and while there are several games in the pipeline that look intriguing, we use it far more for Wii games at this point than for Wii U titles; in fact, half the reason we wanted it was because our Wii broke and we wanted to keep playing those games. The Wii U wouldn't have much appeal for us right now if it didn't play Wii games, as it likely won't have much of a catalog until this time next year; I'd also be pretty sore at not being able to transfer over the $300 or so worth of Virtual Console & WiiWare purchase I had. The same thing helped me decide to purchase a Wii, and a DS. the DS is the only system I ever preordered; I was a college student at the time (as many, many gamers are), and had to sell my GBA to afford it. But I knew that even if the system failed, even if its library never got beyond a handful of decent first-party games, I could still at least use it as an improved GBA with my existing games. Similarly, when I bought my PS3, I bought it for three reasons: Blu-Ray playback, PS2 games, and Oblivion. I didn't have a PS2, and I wanted to go back and play all the games I'd skipped; we still have more PS2 games than PS3 games, though the PS3 library has gotten quite good the last few years. Without the draw of playing PS2 games, I wouldn't have bought one when I did, because the PS3 was still kind of a laughingstock at that point... and by the time its library would have had enough appeal on its own, the PS2 compatibility was cut, so I would have ended up skipping the system altogether. Part of the reason I bought the damn thing was BECAUSE of Sony's established legacy of complete backwards compatibility: I thought that here, at last, was something of a de facto standard, a platform on which I could buy all my games and know that that five, ten, twenty years down the line, I'd still be able to come back to them. That was one of the main traits I'd come to associate with the PlayStation brand.
I realize I'm not the average consumer: I demand more, I put up with less, I have higher expectations. But I am also a loyal customer (each console I own, along with its native games and accessories, easily comprises more that $1000 worth of goods), and the things I bitch about generally pertain to ways the industry is trying to retrain consumer expectations so they can keep milking us over the same purchases and erode any expectation of a purchase having any permanence. I do take offense to that, and I'm starting to agree with the (admittedly small) group of people who say we need a unified, standardized gaming platform. Something that will maintain legacy support from generation to generation, and that will keep games all on the same platform in the present rather than segmented markets. But again, that's a separate rant, and that approach does have its own (significant) drawbacks. I didn't start off supporting that idea at all, specifically because of those drawbacks (less flexibility in hardware evolution, less ability to tailor hardware to software needs as Nintendo does, slower upgrade cycles resulting in fewer leaps forward and radical hardware designs like the PS3 and SNES).
I was pushed in that direction entirely by the way the industry has treated its customers. They set pretty damned specific expectations for US: that we should always want to upgrade whenever an upgrade is available (no compelling reasons necessary), that there shouldn't be any need to support older products because we're not spending money on them NOW (regardless of how much they cost us when we did get them), that we should be not only willing but eager to tie all of our personal and social information into our gaming, that we should be willing to re-buy the same titles over and over if we want to keep playing them regardless of whether we already own a copy, and that we are just demanding and unrealistic if we expect any modicum of support or service from them that doesn't serve as an additional source of new revenue.
We have an entirely new medium of art here. Video games (well, software in general) represent the first new art form ever created that is completely dependent on a specific, custom digital platform in order to function. Video can be saved to film, which is viewable by simple mechanical means. Similarly, audio can be saved to phonograph discs, also playable by simple mechanical means. Plays can be acted, stories told or written, images drawn or painted or printed or photographed or copied by any number of simple means. Sculpture and pottery and woodwork and metalwork--and the tools and art and toys and decorations made from them--are physical objects in and of themselves.
Games don't have that; by their very nature, they HAVE to be executed on a very specific digital platform that falls within very narrow specifications. And by not only locking them away behind restrictive DRM but by actively causing them to expire (either through imposed means such as timed DRM or by de facto expiration means such as providing no path to move that software forward to newer hardware generations), we run the risk of creating an entire art form--an entire MEDIUM of human creation--that will be lost forever to history. Sure, some games get ported and updated. But IP law leaves some orphaned; others are simply left behind as "not profitable" by their creators. Electrolytic capacitors--upon which all modern electronics depend--only have an average lifespan of about 20-30 years. This has somewhat been offset by piracy and hardware clones, but emulation is not perfect and everything after the 16-bit era is complex enough to be both difficult and impractical to clone. Once the last SEGA Saturn dies, Panzer Dragoon Saga will cease to exist as a playable game. Shenmue will follow the last Dreamcast to its grave. These are just two examples of games that we will never get to share with our grandchildren, because they simply won't exist any more... a tragedy that is completely preventable. I shudder to think of all the great games of the last 10 years that will no longer exist in playable form, simply because backwards compatibility didn't have enough appeal to console makers.
Sony completely lost me with this; it was a demonstration of how they really are no better than any other company, hardware or software. Their priorities bear no resemblance to mine, and there is absolutely nothing about the new platform that appeals to me in the least. The most important features are software that could have been implemented to some degree on their existing hardware, the new hardware has little to sell me on its own at this point and doesn't really seem to open the door to any new kinds of gaming experiences, and the system is completely unsuitable as a replacement for my PS3. I think they've fallen into the same trap as TV and stereo makers, where they're just sticking in features "to be new" and that are obviously for the sole purpose of increasing their own revenue, without even bothering to come up with compelling reasons for the people they're actually trying to sell to. The PS4 is sort of like all the different Facebook updates. It changes things around a bit, it's more complex, but it's not necessarily any better, and most of the new features are obviously there to better meet their business needs rather than my needs as the actual user of the product.
I've never had any interest in the Xbox platform, so at least at this early point, it looks like we'll be sticking exclusively with Nintendo for the next generation.