I’m Ready, Sony Isn’t
Chris has an excellent post about what the new PS3 hack means for people who have any interest in playing games online on the console with something resembling a level playing field. Here’s the brief summary: sucks to be you.
It’s disappointing, but also unsurprising in a strange way. Sony’s entry in this generation of console interplay has been underwhelming, by which I mean that they have royally screwed themselves to the point where most companies would find a convenient scapegoat in upper management and start warming up the Sacrifice-o-Mat. To the best of my knowledge, this hasn’t happened yet, so I can only assume Sony has somehow managed to screw that up as well.
A quick history, for those who require it. The first PlayStation was essentially the definition of “breakout success,” managing to serve both Nintendo and Sega their heads in shiny saran-wrapped packages. Nintendo was, of course, helped along by the fact that someone thought the N64 was a console instead of a testament to poor thinking processes, and Sega was helped along by their dedication to hating Nintendo to the exclusion of all other drives, leading to them designing a CD-based piece of hardware meant to crush something four years old that used cartridges and hope to run games. The PlayStation 2 went on to sell so many consoles that not only do we have two in the house right now, we have another four or five sitting in the basement. Buying a new one will set you back about ten dollars, less if you bring the store clerk some coffee or homemade biscuits. Everyone in the world owned one of these things.
By contrast, the PS3 has managed to come in at a dismal third, being beaten by a console designed for people who are scared of buttons and another console designed for the dudebro douchebags of the world. (And oh, if only I could find the gentleman who coined that term, because it’s brilliant.) Sony apparently decided that their enemy for this generation would be the XBox 360, a system which is essentially a baseball cap with a disc drive. This is the equivalent of Mumford and Sons declaring their next album will be a metal album to compete with Metallica. It’s not just lowering yourself, it’s lowering yourself to fight a battle that didn’t need to be fought.
What made the PS2 a wonderful console was the breadth of games you could purchase. The system could support almost anything, and it encouraged designers to produce something new and interesting. The one component it didn’t offer was reliable online play, which the vast majority of the world did not care about and still doesn’t. (Yes, my PS3 is online. I write about online games for a living. I’m what’s known as a statistical outlier.) And yet this generation’s games have largely been the sort of game I ignored before, games that David Wong once described as being rendered in three colors (gray, red, and muzzle flash).
So the games that I don’t have any interest in playing are on the PS3, and my other options are the console filled to the brim with games I don’t want to play (360) or the console where I have to wave my arm like I’m having a grand mal seizure to do something as simple as swing a damn sword (Wii). Oh, and the PS3 has now decided that the Wii should be a major target of competition too, so that’s awesome. I’m thrilled that the Heavy Rain prequels were first delayed and then quite possibly canned so that I could swing a lollipop around during Ethan’s spastic flailing.
Maybe it’s just me. Maybe I’m the outlier in more ways than one. Certainly there’s no shortage of people who seem to be enjoying tromping around in whatever FPS has been released this week wherein some soldier or another shoots a bunch of other soldiers for reasons that are far less detailed than the graphics. I might be overly nostalgic for a time that really never existed. But I do know that my collection of RPGs and story-heavy games for the PS2 fills half a bookshelf, while my PS3 library occupies half a shelf, and I can’t help but wonder what happened to the sort of games I like to play.
Blaming Sony for screwing it up might not be perfectly accurate, but it is edifying.