I don’t know about you guys, but November 15th, 2013 feels like it happened ages ago. November 15th was the day that I, along with a million other gamers, picked up their PlayStation 4 and took part in the most successful console launch in video game history. Gamers were absolutely rabid to get their hands on the next-big thing in video games after a painfully long 7 year wait. Don’t get me wrong, the PlayStation 3 had a tremendous 7 year lifecycle. But the average console lifecycle is around 4 years, giving the PS3 nearly twice the lifespan of the average console. Gamers were more than ready for the next generation of video games.
The PlayStation 4 launched with 22 games, almost all of them multiplatform. While 22 games is certainly nothing to sneeze at, the perception is that Sony launched with almost no exclusives, which is actually true. The only PS4-exclusive launch titles were Resogun, Killzone, and Knack. There were other Sony exclusives such as Flower and Soundshapes, but those titles are also available on the PS3 and Vita, leaving 3 true PS4 exclusives at launch. Resogun is a fantastic game, and Killzone and Knack are certainly no slouches either. But when you’re competing against Forza Motorsport 5, Sony really dropped the ball with their launch line-up. We still don’t know exactly why DriveClub got delayed, but when you look at the launch line-up Sony had for the PlayStation Vita, something just isn’t quite right with the PS4’s launch. This, more than anything, is the biggest disappointment about the PlayStation 4’s launch.
While Sony may not have brought the goods in-terms of exclusive games, they certainly made up for it in other ways. Once again, 22 launch games is nothing to sneeze at. Multiplatform games like Assassin’s Creed 4 and Call of Duty simply run better and at higher framerates than their console counterparts. The PlayStation 4 controller is widely regarded as one of the greatest controllers ever made, if not the greatest. Sure the touch-pad may be a gimmick but man did they nail those analog sticks. And don’t get me started on those triggers. It all comes down to a matter of preference, but it’s hard to deny the PlayStation 4 when it has arguably the best controller of the competition and has its multiplatform games running at a higher framerate than the competition. When you add in how much faster games are at installing on the PS4 versus their competition, it’s hard to deny how great the gameplay experience has been on the PS4.
Another compliment which must be given to Sony is just how impressive the PS4 actually is as a console. It’s been said many times before by many different people, but the PS4 does not look like a first-generation machine. The PS4 has a beautiful design; it’s small, stylish, and quiet. You’d think with such an appealing design that there’d be some sacrifices under the hood, but that’s simply not true. The PS4 interface is extremely well-designed. You can find whatever you’re looking for in seconds, and most importantly, it loads extremely fast. Switching between games on the PS3 used to be a nightmare, forcing you to load the in-game cross media bar, which didn’t even exist until years into the PS3’s life. Now the PS4 allows you to switch between games in mere seconds. The PlayStation Store also appears to be built into the PS4’s OS, since the store is blazing fast. I dare you to load the PS Store on a PS3 and a PS4 and tell me there isn’t a noticeable difference.
So on one-hand the PS4 is an amazing piece of hardware that does have a lot of software, but on the other-hand there’s not a lot of exclusive software compelling gamers to make the jump to the PS4. So where does Sony go from here? Here are my suggestions for the PlayStation 4 in 2014.
1.) Continue making PlayStation Plus the best deal in gaming
PlayStation Plus has been killing it for years now, and Sony hasn’t slowed down at all with the launch of the PS4. When people ask me whether they should go with an Xbox or an PS4, one of the first things I point to is PlayStation Plus. If you buy an Xbox One, not only are you paying $100 more, but you aren’t getting any type of deal for buying Xbox Live. PlayStation Plus is required to play games online, but getting at least 1 free game per month is a hell of a deal. If you bought a PS4 at launch, so far you’ve gotten Resogun, Contrast, and Don’t Starve for free. That’s 3 free games. Next month you’re going to get Outlast, a highly regarded survival horror game for free. If things continue at this rate, you will have at least 12 free games on the PS4 by the end of its first year. That’s pretty damn impressive, and a big win in Sony’s favor compared to the zero free games you get with the competition.
2.) Make PlayStation Now a must-have for all PlayStation fans
Gamers are excited for PlayStation Now, and with good reason. If this works like I think it will, you will pay a monthly subscription fee and have access to all of the games on PlayStation Now. That’s a hell of deal, especially when you take into consideration the games Sony has been demoing PlayStation Now with. If you can play through games like Puppeteer and the Last of Us on your PS4 at your convenience for a flat monthly rate, that’s quite the incentive to get a PS4. We’re a long ways off from seeing this realized, but if PlayStation Now someday includes complete libraries, or near complete libraries of PS1 and PS2 games, I can’t see myself ever getting rid of PlayStation Now.
3.) Give us exclusive games
We know exclusives are coming to the PS4. Games like The Order 1886, DriveClub, Infamous: Second Son, and Uncharted are confirmed to be in development. But Sony has one of, if not the largest collection of first party developers, and it’s time to show off what they’ve been up to. We all know Media Molecule is working on a PS4 game, why not tease us with something? On one hand it’s kind of exciting knowing Sony is keeping a lot of things under wraps right now, but on the other hand the PS4’s launch window has passed and now it’s time to look at the future. Sony held an event and unveiled the PS4 last February. How about a follow-up event this February to show us what we can expect in 2014?
4.) Don’t rest on your early victories
If there’s one point I really want to get across to Sony, it’s that this is a marathon, not a sprint. They seem fully aware of this, but it’s important to note that this console race is just beginning. Sony may have a slight lead in worldwide sales, but that doesn’t mean anything. If Sony were to be hit with a few bad stories, or if Microsoft came out and announced a bunch of great exclusives, the bar could swing real fast. Both consoles have sold about 7 million combined units so far. I fully expect this number to triple by the end of 2014. If Sony plays their cards right, they could grab a majority of those users. But you know Microsoft won’t go down without a fight. The Internet has an extremely short memory, and it won’t take much to flush your good-will away.