It seems like just the other day when PlayStation 3s still had backwards compatibility and we wondered who would ever pay $500 or more for a console (not that many people, as it turned out), but here we are, four years after the launch of the PS3, and the little console that could has finally gained some traction and doesn’t need to have little brother syndrome anymore.
So how does the TPS staff feel about the Triple on its fourth anniversary? Do they, like me (Aram), lament the loss of some of the quirkier games we saw released regularly on the PlayStation 2? Or are we happy many of them found a home as downloadable titles on the PlayStation Network? Are there really six years left in this system, like Sony would have us believe? We gathered some of the staff around the DualShock 3-shaped conference table and pretended to listen to each others’ thoughts…
Man, four years goes by fast. When the PS3 was born, so was my daughter, and much like having kids, I can’t remember what life was like before I had this black battleship. The ubiquitous console not only plays two generations of games, it has replaced the old Xbox as the media center of my world. I can watch Netflix movies, Vevo music videos, Hulu TV shows, and stream virtually any video file of my own straight to my TV with little effort. After a slow start, the PS3 is rife with great exclusive content and robust offerings on the PlayStation Store, which has become a haven of sorts for indie development houses. I’m not too ashamed to admit that the idea of Trophies is far more compelling to me than Achievement points ever were. Sony seems poised to deliver an almost unbelievable amount of exclusive content in the next six months. What’s not to love?
Well, for starters, I’m not drinking the Sony Kool-Aid when it comes to backward compatibility. I’m a subscriber to the theory that we could still have the ability to play last generation’s games – only Sony realized they could monetize those old titles again by locking us out and forcing us to buy remakes. Don’t get me wrong, I fully support remastering old titles, but we all know that it is a highly selective process, and many titles we consider “classics” will never get updated.
Which brings me to my other issue… where are this generation’s Disaster Reports and Katamari Damacys? (Yes, I realize there is a “new” Katamari game, but I am talking metaphorically, not literally here). One of the hallmarks of both the original PlayStation and the PlayStation 2 was the plethora of “non-traditional” games that graced their catalogs, many of which came from overseas. There has yet to be a Mister Mosquito or even a God Hand appearing in our stores. I appreciate that we can play most import games natively now, and I am pleased by the appearance of quirky little gems like Trash Panic and Noby Noby Boy gracing the PSN, but I miss those wacky, fully-translated titles like IllBleed. We still have time to reverse the trend, but my hopes are not high.
I knew I was in love when I plugged in my PS3 for the first time and MotorStorm’s intro started playing. Neither my HDTV nor my surround sound system had ever been able to fully demonstrate their potential until that point. Admittedly, the Xbox 360 was a console that I only got my hands on after getting a PS3, so the technological leap from my beloved PS2 was quite the significant one.
I remember thinking, “Man, this is the future.” The irony is that it wasn’t. Sony’s online system was solid but nowhere near what the 360 offered with Xbox Live at the time. Many of the multiplatform titles were graphically inferior on Sony’s big black box, and we were told rumble was “last gen.” Fortunately, it didn’t take Sony long to realize that they had to look at what the competition was doing if they wanted to catch up – or even surpass them in the never-ending console wars.
With time, we were given the DualShock 3, Trophies, better third-party support, Netflix, the video store, and a lineup of exclusives that I think is far superior to that of the 360, and all of this coupled with the initial selling points of the PS3. There is no denying that Sony has allowed the PS3 to mature into a unique and sophisticated gaming machine that is just far more user-friendly than its competition.
But what’s so attractive is also a form of character that has grown around the system that I simply don’t see anywhere else. Kevin Butler is a pop-culture phenomenon, the PlayStation Blog has become one of the most charismatic “official” sources for gaming news on the web, and the unique option of being able to swap and upgrade your system’s harddrive any time are just a few of the reasons why I consider the PS3 the system of my choice. I truly believe that if Sony keeps up the hard work and eventually realizes that you can have both backwards compatibility and remastered originals alongside one another, the transition from the once-arrogant industry leader to maybe and arguably its most important asset is perfect. I, for one, can’t wait to see where the PlayStation brand goes from here.
Marc N. Kleinhenz
Well, if that brand future manifests itself in the form of PlayStation Portable Phones (PSPPs) and more wishy-washy initiatives like PlayStation Plus, I’m not quite certain that it will either be bright or that arrogant-less.
I didn’t get a PlayStation 3 until December of 2009, when all of the really good exclusives were out or were about to come out within the next three months or so. I had just bought a HDTV (50″ 1080p plasma <3), and Blu-ray was one of the first things I really wanted to try the TV out on. The PlayStation 3 was the only thing I could think of; I’ve always been a huge fan of Sony’s consoles – I loved the PlayStation 2 – and I had started hearing rumors of Gran Turismo 5 coming out soon (not surprisingly, I would have to wait an extra year for it!), so it was a no-brainer.
Looking at the list of exclusives, I knew I would love this system. Demon’s Souls, Uncharted 2, and Metal Gear Solid 4, at the time, were the games that really sold me. (Although I still need to give Demon’s Souls a proper play-through one of these days – I have only ever rented the game. ) The free online play is what sold me on the console, as well. I’ve noticed that those games whose online play is key really survive a long time on the PS3; their online communities keep going a lot longer than on the PC or Xbox 360. This was a major plus that I discovered shortly after getting the system.
Even though I originally mentioned that the strong Blu-ray capabilities were one of the top reasons for me getting a PS3, I have actually ended up only buying a handful of BR movies. With Netflix taking off big time in early 2010, along with other large streaming services providing HD content, there wasn’t a whole lot of reason to go with Blu-ray, it has turned out. The format is great, though, and I don’t see it going away anytime soon.
But, ultimately, the PlayStation 3 is such a strong gaming system that everything else is overshadowed by this fact. It just has the best exclusives available. While I am not always happy with the way Sony handles system updates and provides new features, the games are what is most important, and, in this regard, the PS3 delivers a lot better then anyone else. I’ve always been a fan of Sony’s consoles because they just simply stick to the most important aspects. Sometimes the little things get ignored by them or put aside for long periods of time, but when it comes to providing the most original game titles, they deliver every time – and that is what is really important to me when I am ready to spend my money on my favorite hobby.
The first time that I saw the PS3, I was blown away by the demos, videos, and launch lineup that looked like it was going to redefine the gaming industry. Then I saw the price, and I was definitely dismayed – while the games were going to be affordable, the launch systems were in the realm of the NeoGeo (an impressive system, technically, at the time, but an incredible failure). It felt like Sony had freely given up the dominance that they’d established over the PlayStation and PS2 years to Microsoft.
While some of the obvious gaffes, like realistic giant crabs and “Riiiiiiiiiiidge Racer!” became internet memes and cast doubt on the future of the system, Sony battled back in some of the ways it knows best – producing high-quality games. Titles like Resistance and MotorStorm were huge in rebuilding faith in the PlayStation fan community, and this was supported afterwards with incredibly solid hits over time: The Show has consistently been the best baseball series ever produced, LittleBigPlanet redefined user content, and God of War III blew users away with its storytelling.
Sony also managed to score a crucial victory in the format wars by trouncing HD-DVD and establishing Blu-ray as the successor to DVDs. Given Sony’s track record in backing formats (Betamax, anyone?), the win of Blu-ray was huge and was due, in part, to the fact that the player was central to every system. Sony gave consumers a system that could play their old DVDs but also gave them HD-quality new releases and games. The PS3 was a Swiss Army Knife that became the center of many a home entertainment system, and it’s hard to imagine sitting down and watching movies without it – whether that’s with a physical disc or streaming movies through Hulu or Netflix.
However, Sony still has done things that will make even the most die-hard fan scratch their head in confusion. While they have no problem touting the support of DVDs and Blu-rays, they completely eliminated backwards compatibility from post-launch systems. This was a huge selling point that helped Sony retain their fans over the years (and console generations) because fans didn’t feel as though they had to abandon their old game libraries. As someone that still has his old “George Foreman”-style PS3 with backwards compatibility, I will scream out my dissatisfaction with this decision ‘til my dying breath. Then I’ll come back from the grave and scream some more like a banshee.
It’s obvious that Sony decided that they could squeeze and bilk users out of more cash by offering digital versions of older games. However, there’s a large problem with this system: many of the games that are posted in the PS Store aren’t games that anyone wants to play. Personally, if I wanted to play Cool Boarders or Syphon Filter, I’d pull out my old PSX copies. But I don’t. Nor do I care about Rayman 2 or Dirt Jockey – if I did, I would’ve bought them years ago. I’d rather play SSX, MGS2, or DMC3, but those aren’t available in the Store. I applaud the repurposing of older games in collections – the God of War Collection is great, I’m sure that the Sly Collection is awesome (I’m looking forward to diving into that for Christmas), and the forthcoming Ico/Shadow Collection is sure to be unbelievable. But it’s taking far too long to produce these titles or post them on the Store for download
Another issue is that many of the games or genres that were mainstays for Sony aren’t there any longer. Sony used to host incredible RPGs and quirky games that captured the imagination of tons of gamers. Where are they? The PS Store seems to be the lone repository of these titles, like EchoChrome or PixelJunk Monsters.
Will Sony right the ship and reestablish its dominance in this generation? I hope so. Many people believe that the Move has better technology than the Kinect or Wii MotionPlus, and now that developers are starting to get comfortable with programming for the system, some of the truly unbelievable games for the console are on the horizon. However, it does seem like Sony needs a show-stopping string of games or piece of tech that Microsoft and Nintendo can’t match or equal – something that Kevin Butler could constantly Mon-Tage in commercials over and over. Since the whole “Marcus PSP” campaign seems dead, it’s time for the big VP of Everything Gaming to step up and lead the console into the gaming promised land.
It really is a shame that the early years of the PS3 were essentially lost to the unexpected shadow of the Wii and the established dominance of the Xbox 360, a fate that was exacerbated by the aforementioned economically unfriendly pricing. I paid $700 for a 3DO back when it launched in 1993, but I couldn’t bring myself to purchase a PS3 until the price hit $400 – not just because I couldn’t afford one (somehow I can always find the money for something as important as videogames), but because there wasn’t a compelling console exclusive until Metal Gear Solid 4 came along. And even then, it was actually Flower that finally pushed me into purchasing one.
Since that time, my Wii has become merely fodder for my toddlers, and my Xbox 360 barely gets turned on (for which my ears thank me), as I have embraced the return to my true love, for whom I sincerely apologize for ignoring for those two years. I’m here with you on your fourth birthday, and I’ll be there for you when you turn 10 (if not you, then your newer, slimmer sister).