A reader is unimpressed by the recent State of Play and argues Sony is still trying to distract from issues with its first party developers.
It’s still January as I write this, and we’ve already had an Xbox Developer_Direct and a PlayStation State of Play. There seems to be some uncertainty about whether there’ll be a Nintendo Direct in February but given all they’d probably talk about at this stage is their already announced games I don’t think that really matters either way.
Nintendo’s successes and failures happen regardless of what Microsoft and Sony do, and yet the Xbox and PlayStation have, for more than 20 years, been locked in a battle of dominance that Sony has always won – with only the Xbox 360 era being in anyway a close run thing.
Microsoft has all the money but Sony consistently beats them anyway, and this generation by seemingly doing very little. That’s not entirely fair, because they have made some smart moves, but most of their success this generation is merely a result of them doing such a good job with the PlayStation 4 and Xbox not providing a good enough reason for anyone to switch sides.
I find it amusing that business sources, and other outlets that know nothing about gaming, keep suggesting that Game Pass is doing really well and has proven itself the future of gaming, when in fact it’s already stalled and much of what Microsoft has been doing in the last year or so seems to be a reaction to that. They’ve realised that no matter what they put on Game Pass it’s not going to turn the tide – not even Call Of Duty, and even if it did the loss in revenues for doing so would be disastrous.
Will they give up making consoles? I doubt it, but it’s already clear they’re not important to their future. They’re already a bigger games company than Sony, they just don’t control the medium for games in any meaningful way, so they’ll try to do that with PC, mobile, and streaming instead. They’ll probably find a way to mess it up, but let’s worry about that when we get there.
For Sony, it’s tempting to say that they’re just going to stick with what works, except the first thing they did as soon as the PlayStation 5 was confirmed as a hit is… completely change their entire approach to first party games.
I don’t know why; I suspect a lot of people don’t know why. I also suspect that Jim Ryan is on his way out because it was his idea, and the decision has already been made to reverse it.
Whatever the reason, and we can only speculate, the end result is that we had no first party exclusives at all in the State of Play. No live service games, not even the rumoured Concord, and no single-player games.
On that basis alone I cannot consider it a success.
I agree with the theory that all Sony’s exclusive deals with other companies, for single-player games like Stellar Blade and Rise Of The Rōnin are panicked attempts to cover for the fact that they have none of their own. The deal with Hideo Kojima for Physint was probably made very much for that reason, as is promoting Death Stranding 2 as a major release – when the original already proved fairly niche.
The thing is, to go back to Xbox for a moment, this is a strategy that Microsoft should’ve been able to copy very easily, given their infinite resources. It never seems to have occurred to them though, as we just sit and wait for their own first party studios to get into gear.
Rather than two industry veterans locked in a battle of wits, Microsoft and Sony come across as mostly incompetent, too big to fail corporations, throwing you-know-what against the wall until something sticks.
I’m not impressed and I’m starting to almost wish that Google Stadia or some other alternative had worked out instead, to shock Microsoft and Sony into real action.
So no, I don’t think it was a good State of Play. It had absolutely no reassurance that Sony has a plan for this generation or beyond. Instead, it was a band-aid for mistakes they are desperately trying to hope the majority of fans don’t notice and I think that it could still be years before it’s ripped off and we get them back at anything like the same level of competence they were in the PlayStation 4 era.
By reader Johnson
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