So the Sony Press Conference happened. By and large, people seem to be pretty optimistic about the conference and think it went well. The Giant Bomb crew came away from it relatively impressed and said it was good.I respectfully must disagree. Just as their believing it was good is their opinion, I think it was almost a trainwreck - which is mine.
Before I really start going into where I think things went wrong, I should at least start off with some positive notes. Landing Jonathan Blow and his latest game for the PS4 is a pretty nice achievement, and it did look like a pleasing alternative. It's difficult to judge the game based on what little gameplay I saw, but it's a puzzle game from the guy who made Braid and I have faith in that.
The concept of downloading a game off of PSN and being able to play it before it's finished DLing sounds great on paper. The devil might be in the details on how it's done - whether it's streamed to the system or the game is built in such a way that core assets are DL'd first for quick play ala World of Warcraft. But it's still something the Wii U doesn't have and it's probably a first for a console.
But this is where I start to come off of the rails. From a hardware and a game perspective, I think the PS4 isn't necessarily doomed. But it's going to have a very rough landing and this presentation didn't help.
To start I have to go back to the idea of streaming the game. People on Giant Bomb obviously have access to the Internet, and probably have a good connection to enjoy the video content. But there is still a very large segment of (at least the American) population that doesn't hook up their consoles to the Internet. They're going to miss out on some of the key parts of the console because the infrastructure either isn't there in their part of the country, or because their ISP is putting profit over service. Other countries might have an issue with bandwidth caps depending on how much data is required to stream a game.
This is especially a problem given that the PS4 has no backwards compatibility. At all. Officially, Sony said they're reworked the entire architecture of the system to be more developer friendly and this is why it's no longer possible to run legacy games. Even if that's the case, they're not even going to try and half-ass it like Microsoft did for the 360. The move might've been telegraphed earlier in the PS3 lifespan with PS2 discs no longer being read in later versions of the console, but it's still a sorely missing feature after the PS3 launched with such a staggering back-catalog and after the Wii U still has BC for its own predecessor. At this point, at least saying 'we can try to work something out' would've been nice even if it would've taken a long time to do.
Then there's the games. I can understand that Sony wants to reserve some firepower for E3, but this is their console announcement conference. I applaud Sony's decision to put some actual games on the line here. They need something to catch people's attention, and usually a good way to do that is a new IP.
But a new Killzone? People still care about Killzone? I still remember the controversy over the PS3 and Killzone 2, and they bring it back for the PS4 announcement? The gameplay didn't look much different than what's come before, and even the GB crew admitted it was one of their least favorite demos. And this is what they led off with. It's not even a new IP, even if it looks like they might be taking the game in a new direction.
Drive Club just reminded me of Gran Turismo. Maybe it'll be a good racing game. But all I remember about Drive Club was 'this presenter is fetishistic about his cars' and 'this is Gran Turismo'. Maybe that gets some people going, but I'll admit it's not me.
Another Infamous game! I can at least appreciate that the Infamous games are good ones, even if they aren't my taste. New protagonist, at least they aren't advertising Cole after what happened in 2. But the whole storyline they hinted at. The setting. I kept getting flashes of Watch Dogs, and I don't think Infamous came off looking good from that comparison. And again, this is not a new IP.
Deep Down, Capcom's announced game. From what little I could see, it reminded me of Dark Souls in its gameplay. It also looks a lot like Dragon's Dogma, which I heard was an alright game. I'll wait to see more of this one before I judge it.
I'm convinced Square Enix trolled the entire gaming community today. They don't even show a *new* tech demo, and then they say 'we're working on a new Final Fantasy, see you at E3'? Honestly, this was a low-light of the conference for me. SE should have waited until E3, shown up, dropped the new Final Fantasy on us, go 'PS4, bitches', drop the mic, and get hype.
Speaking of things that had no real business being at the Sony conference, Watch Dogs! It's sad when Watch Dogs is the best game at the conference. This was the best game at E3, too. But this is already confirmed to be a multi-platform game. It's even confirmed for the Wii U! So what is it doing here?
If there was any company that came out of this looking worse than Square Enix, it's Blizzard. Blizzard was the one moment where I gasped and went 'oh shit, this is going to be the PS4's killer app'. All this build up, and they reveal a port of Diablo 3? Diablo 3?! You show up at Sony's big event to talk about a port of a PC game that was already kind of divisive? Even if it means we might see more ease at porting, you're still talking about Diablo 3.
Finally, Destiny. I kind of expected Sony to parade around Bungie as a middle finger to Microsoft, even if the game is in the same boat as Watch Dogs in terms of 'why are we here this game is multi-platform'. What I saw was pretty nice, and I do admit I'm a little interested to hear about what exclusive DLC the PS4 version might get. Especially on how long the exclusivity contract lasts.
So obviously, I wasn't very impressed. While the guys on the stage were certainly passionate, what they were talking about wasn't much to get passionate about. I think that if they wanted to put Nintendo away for the generation, they needed to start the hype now and let E3 serve as a part two to the hype train. As it is, I didn't see anything that screams 'buy a PS4 on day 1'. There weren't any killer app games, and the functionality of the PS4 - while intriguing - aren't likely to be things that move systems to people who don't pay attention to games like most of us do. There certainly wasn't any talk of a price, which might have been for the best.
Like I said before, I think the PS4 is in for a rough landing. By the time they release, Nintendo will have had time to try and re-invigorate themselves. They managed to give the 3DS a second wind, and they could do just the same before the PS4 arrives. And the PS4 still has to contend with Microsoft's code-name 'Durango', which will inevitably be announce in the near future.
EDIT: Wow, big response. I'm happy that the post has engendered some amount of discussion.
You guys have made a fairly decent counter-argument on one of my points, and I'll acknowledge it. Backwards compatibility isn't an absolute must. I was approaching it from the standpoint that all of the consoles from the previous generation allowed BC from the GCN/PS2/XBox generation in some capacity, and seeing that go away. It's something that was standard before that generation, and the changed architecture of the PS4 to allow greater ease of development probably meant that it was a pipe dream to expect even PS3 BC.
I just think it would have been a nice thing to have.