On E3 and the 8th Generation


7210_441324289296167_253853598_nFor a while now I’ve been having the most depressing feeling that the 8th generation (Wii U, PS 4, X-1) would be the last video game generation. I’m not the only one who’s had this feeling for a while. Over at Kotaku, Luke Plunkett wrote an interesting piece about how video game console releases are bumming him out. When the Wii U was released, I felt a bit let down. It wasn’t the great improvement over its predecessor that I had expected it to be. Instead, it was a console with a power boost and a new gimmicky controller. Needless to say, I was disappointed. Granted, it has the Marios, Zeldas, Fire Emblems, and a host of other great 1st party and exclusive titles (these have always been the main appeal of Nintendo consoles), but I felt less excited than for the Wii release. Then, the Microsoft held a press conference for the X-1. If you don’t want to see the full hour long presentation, see the highlights here.

Following this top-notch presentation, news came out that the X-1 would embrace anti-consumer practices. It would come bundled with a Kinect that would have to be always on. It will have to connect every 24 hours to authenticate your single-player disc-based games, and there are restrictions on what you can (or can’t) do with the games you buy (can’t trade, buy, lend, or give away, with only a few exceptions).  After facing some backlash, Microsoft made an announcement that “Microsoft may change its policies […] to reflect modifications suggested by consumers and business partners”. Some interpreted this as a good thing. I read it as Microsoft taking away the few pro-consumer features the X-1 had, like sharing games with family. The reveal was so poor, that Wii-U sales increased shortly after. But, hey, at least Microsoft talked about Call of Duty Ghost, Madden, and Fifa. This morning’s press conference wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great either. They showed Halo 5, Battlefield 4, the exclusive Killer Instinct (I would argue that this is their killer game app), and a few other interesting titles. Still, nothing that made me say “I need this console”  while all the anti-consumerist concerns lingered in the back of my mind.

The only thing missing was the PS 4.

And then came today a few hours ago.

Sony’s E 3 conference showcased a number of very interesting-looking PS 4 exclusive indie games, Elder Scrolls Online, Watchdogs, and Destiny, to mention some. Mad Max and the Square games had me drooling all over. Kingdom Hearts 3 and Final Fantasy XV (Final Fantasy XIII-Versus, really) looked incredible. And then, Sony decided to slap Microsoft a bit. Before showing Watchdogs, the Sony representative said “Yes, we have great games coming out for our system, like Call of Duty Ghost, but we also have great exclusive titles”. I knew immediately that this was a jab at the X-1 reveal. It was a fine showing with several great titles. Still, there had been rumors before today that Sony would implement some form of anti-used game policies, or at least leave it up to the publishers.

Today, Sony came out and destroyed all rumors. Sony embraced a pro-consumer stance. Their representative said that “when a gamer buys a copy of a PS 4 disc, they have the rights to use that game, trade it in, sell it, lend it to a friend, or keep it forever. […] You don’t need to be online to play, or for any type of authentication” This earned the speaker a standing ovation, as well it should. Following these comments came a barrage of strikes aimed at Microsoft. “The PS 4 will not require you to be online every 24 hours”, “there will be no authentication”, “you can play your single player games on your own without being online”… all of these statements were followed by wild applause. Following these, Sony showed a few more games, then announced their price tag: $399. This, when compared to the X-1’s price tag of $499, is yet another slap to Microsoft’s ego. Sony is offering similar hardware, more variety of games, and less user restrictions, for less money. They also announced that a user’s PSN library can be ported over to the PS 4. It seems to me like a no-brainer. Unless Microsoft steps up their game, scraps their DRM and anti-used-games policies, and improves drastically on their PR, I am officially making a prediction: The PS 4 is the hands winner of the 8th Generation Console Wars. Sony had a great product, a great presentation, and great software. I’m really looking forward to their new console.

And as far as E-3 is concerned, as a friend said in a recent conversation, the only thing Nintendo needs to do to get 2nd place is say “here are some more new games!” and not do something stupid. And I agree. Right now, the gaming community (myself included) is so angry at Microsoft, that many people who haven’t had a Nintendo console since the SNES were considering getting a Wii U.

So yeah… Final Fantasy Vers… I mean XV…

And this: “The moment Sony won the console wars”

 

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About Quijano

Johansen Quijano is a professor of English in The University of Texas at Arlington, where he is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in English. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in the Teaching of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), a Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Development focusing on TESOL, and a Master’s Degree in English Literature. He has published and presented on a variety of topics including video game studies, popular culture studies, education, teaching methodology, language acquisition, romantic poetry, and victorian literature. His research interests include the above-mentioned topics, narrative, interactivity, simulation, new media in general, and 18th century literature. He also enjoys creative writing (fiction, historical fiction, and poetry), and reading all kinds of epic literary works - from the Epic Poem of Gilgamesh to Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series.

Posted on June 11, 2013, in Video Game Commentary and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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