8 core processor! 800mHz DirectX 11.1! Higher skeletal detection!! 1.21 GIGAWATTS OF RAW GAME PROCESSING POWER!! These are but some of the rumoured specs being thrown around for the upcoming Sony and Microsoft consoles. I couldn’t recall them off the top of my head and I probably won’t remember them by the end of this paragraph. Mere tech specs haven’t really meant anything to me since the Nintendo 64, and the only reason I cared was because it was in the title. Also, I was eight.
Instead, here are some of the things that I want to see in the Microsoft Working Title or the Sony [Insert Name Here].
Games, Games, Games.
This one goes without saying. All the touchscreen-gesture-clouding innovations these new consoles are purported to have will be for nothing if there aren’t any interesting games to play on the things. I don’t just mean Halo 5: Spartan Fury or God Of War V: Spartan Fury, but new games based off new stories and concepts. We already have games like Watch Dogs and Remember Me waiting in the wings, but I want to see Sony and Microsoft bring their might to the table and introduce what will be the next equivalent of Uncharted or Forza — quality games that also happen to show off the console’s capabilities.
When the next wave of consoles come (if they come…), we’ll only remember the games, not the number of shaders these consoles have or how quickly they can render tree shadows.
From Braid to to Journey and everything in between, some of the most interesting and memorable games this generation has come from indie developers. And although Microsoft and Sony have been integral in this, they have slipped as of recent.
Indie darlings like Papa & Yo and The Unfinished Swan will be forever trapped on the PSN store; we haven’t seen a noteworthy XBLA title since Dust: An Elysian Tail was released all the way back in August; and let’s not forget the Microsoft-published Fez, which will forever remain broken on the XBLA because of the Microsoft’s alleged $40,000 patching fee.
I still believe Sony and Microsoft can provide launching pads for certain indie developers. They just need the gumption to do so, as well as the decency to not screw their partners over.
Compared to Sony, who are in a semi-respectable position with its increasingly regular sales and Playstation Plus benefits, Microsoft’s online store is aeons behind. Almost every Games on Demand game can be found cheaper elsewhere, and prices for Xbox Live Arcade games remain disappointingly stubborn. For instance, it is near impossible to purchase Bastion at full price on PC, while on XBLA it remains at its release day of 1200MSP.
Steam have a good system going. Publishers on the platform are able to set their own prices, and although this has created some egregious situations, it has also allowed prices to decay organically and for games to thrive in Steam’s famous holiday sales.
If Microsoft and Sony want us to dive deep into their digital ecosystems, they need to give us a good reason to do so. Stagnant prices and limited functionality isn’t going to further their cause. Nor will arbitrary geographical restrictions. Which neatly brings me to my next point.
I should be playing Persona 4 Arena right now. But thanks to Atlus’ decision to region locking all copies of the game, including the PS3 version, and its reckless delay in supplying its European partner with a localised build, I have no way to play this game which has otherwise been out for over half a year.
This is one of the many reasons why there shouldn’t be any barriers, geographical or otherwise, to play my games. Many of the major publishers have recognised this and are releasing their big titles globally day-and-date. But there will be exceptions, and Microsoft and Sony should ideally be putting an end to this by making their next console region-free.
But I don’t see this happening. On the contrary, things will probably get more restricted with these new consoles — just look at Nintendo. If this is the case, it will be a damned shame.I just want to play Persona 4 Arena….
Streaming and capturing capabilities
Let’s face it: Streaming is quickly becoming one of the prime ways we consume games. Look at the over one million people who tuned in to the League of Legends World Championship, the tens of thousands of people who tune in to watch speed runs, the 2,500 people who, at the time of writing, are watching The Binding of Isaac. The console that gives players the ability to easily stream gameplay and commentary will undoubtedly have an edge over any that don’t. And considering recent rumours, it seems like the Sony Orbis might have this edge.
Besides, it’ll make capturing footage for NG+ so much easier.
It’s not long until we find out what’s in store for the next wave of consoles, especially given Sony’s major event this Thursday. However, five years from now, we won’t remember any of the nitty-gritty details that are revealed at these announcement events — we’ll remember only the games and the actual experiences we have with these consoles. If Microsoft or Sony implement even one of these things from my list, then these experiences can only be improved, which will be a victory for all parties involved: The manufacturers, the publishers, the developers and us, the gamers.
Come back on Thursdays for more thoughts and views from the NG+ cast and crew.
[Image credits: IGN, Number None, Persona Europe]