PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale Shows Why Sony Will Fail
Sony All-Star Battle Royale Shows Why Sony Will Fail
In the year 1999, Nintendo’s Hal Laboratories gave birth to what would soon become a classic. Under the watchful eye of Kirby creator Masahiro Sakurai, 12 of Nintendo’s biggest stars took an unexpected departure into the world of fighting. Featuring a uniquely simple control scheme, interactive stages, a collection of items, a strange blend of platforming and fighting, and a uniquely light-hearted style, Super Smash Brothers became a hit. The next game in the franchise, Smash Brothers Melee, would go on to become the Gamecube’s most successful game, and the franchise’s most recent entry has sold in excess of 10 million copies despite never seeing a price drop.
Over a decade after Nintendo’s legendary franchise began, Sony had a meeting and said, “hey why not make a Smash Brothers game, but with Fat Princess.” Without making even the slightest effort to disguise their influences, Sony has announced Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale, which might as well be called Ultra Bash Siblings.
From the office of All-Star Battle Royale Developer Superbot. See that Wii in the background? I’ll give you one guess to figure out what game is inside of it.
Now, Nintendo doesn’t have the sole rights to create a mash up fighting game. Sega brought together a variety of characters in Fighters Megamix way before Pikachu and Kirby locked horns, SNK let the cast of Fatal Fury and Art of Fighting duke it out in King Of Fighters, and Capcom has produced more crossover fighters than you can shake a stick at. Sony is well within their right to make a crossover fighting game, but the lack of creativity present in the footage of All-Star Battle Royale is simply astounding. At first glance, you might mistake Sony’s game for a particularly ambitious Brawl mod. As you see a character knocked into the distance with a shoulder bash, you’ll instantly be reminded of Brawl’s physics. As Sweet Tooth claps the air above him, it’s hard not to think of Donkey Kong. Everything from the game’s aesthetics to the designs of its stages will remind gamers of Nintendo’s fighting franchise. This is a straight up ripoff.
All Star Battle Royal will probably be well received. It will probably sell lots of copies. As much as I hate to admit it, it will probably be a good game. It will also show why Sony is quickly becoming irrelevant.
Seriously though, are you even trying anymore?
Sony Does What Nintendid
If Sony was an otherwise innovative company who just copied this one idea, their offense would be easily forgiven. This is not the case. Sony has a long and storied history of copying its competitors. When Nintendo released the Nintendo 64 controller with its revolutionary analog stick and added the rumble pack, Sony was close behind with the Dualshock controller (which to Sony’s credit offered a second analog stick). When Mario Kart became one of Nintendo’s biggest franchises, Crash Team Racing was born. When Final Fantasy VII started the great RPG boom of the 90’s, Sony spent an obscene amount of money to create Legend of Dragoon. When Microsoft turned gamer score into phenomena, Sony developed trophies.
Of course, I’d be remiss to not mention Sony’s crowning achievement in the world of mimicry; the Playstation Move. The Wii remote was not the first motion sensitive controller out there, but nobody saw the revolution that motion controlled gaming would create. When Nintendo released the Wii, they were making a bold gambit. They had no guarantee that motion controls would appeal to the masses, and failure would have been catastrophic. As we all know, Nintendo’s gambit paid off.
Microsoft and Sony noticed Nintendo’s success, and each of them sought to capitalize on the Wii’s momentum in their own way. Microsoft developed the Kinect, a camera which tracked the entire body of a user. While I may not be a huge fan of the Kinect, I can respect it as a legitimate attempt to innovate the gaming industry. Meanwhile, Sony decided that instead of doing something original, they’d do a wholesale ripoff of the Wii. In this spirit, Sony jury rigged themselves a Wii Remote of their very own. Not content to do a half-assed rip off, Sony went all the way and added a nunchuck to the contraption. For completion’s sake, Sony bundled their device with Sports Champions, an obvious response to Nintendo’s Wii Sports and Wii Sports Resort.
So it came to pass that 4 years after the Wii launched, Sony released a peripheral that was at best a minor improvement over Nintendo’s offering. Gamers responded with a collective sigh of apathy. The Move has been an abysmal failure that has neither captured a large segment of Nintendo’s Wii fanbase nor encouraged traditional gamers to embrace motion controls.
It’s Totally Different. It has a glowing ball on top.
Why Do We Need Sony?
This may all sound like the sour grapes of a Nintendo fanboy, but to be honest I think Nintendo should be thrilled about Sony’s direction. Sony is leading themselves down a quick path to obsolescence. The company that once captured an incredible 75% of the home console market is now caught in a battle for second place in both total hardware and total software sales. Why does Sony find themselves in this position? Because, Sony has done nothing to stay ahead of the curve.
After Microsoft revolutionized the way people connect to each other and play games online, Sony was left scrambling to catch up to them. When Nintendo brought motion controlled gaming to the masses with the Wii Remote, Sony scrambled to bring motion controlled gaming to their console. Meanwhile, what has Sony brought to the table?
There is a reason that games like Super Smash Brothers, Street Fighter 2, Halo, Wii Fit, Grand Theft AutoIII, Half Life, and Mario Kart have spawned such popular and enduring franchises. These games offered something different from their peers. These are the kinds of games that spawned entire genres. These are the kinds of games that people buy a console for. These are the kinds of games that Sony is lacking these days. If Sony is going to survive, they need to create novel and compelling experiences like these, and they’re not going to do that by stealing the ideas from others.
Sony All-Star Battle Royale clearly shows the culture that plagues Sony. They don’t think outside the box. They don’t craft unique experiences. They don’t think ahead of their competitors. They don’t anticipate market demands. Sony is not a leader. Sony is a follower. If Sony wants to stay relevant in the coming years, they’ll need to change that.