Has the Golden Age of Playstation Begun?
Ever since the mid 90s, Playstation has been a household name. The introduction of the Playstation 1 revolutionized and revitalized an entire industry. It sold over 100 million units and served as a stepping stone to the best selling video game console of all time, the Playstation 2. The Playstation 2 had a lot of great games, but technology was changing so fast that home consoles couldn’t keep up with computers. With the huge jump to HD resolution, Playstation fans assumed that the successor to the Playstation 2 would once again revolutionize the video games industry with huge open worlds and photo realism.
It goes without saying that the Playstation 3 was a step backward for Sony, at least commercially. Sony was riding a high from the previous generations that led to some poor decisions, including a complex system architecture. The architecture of Playstation 3 was very hard to develop. So many games were inferior or non existent on Sony’s console. Along with the Sony consoles, we also have had handheld devices. PSP was a success for Sony: it sold 80 million units, had lots of support from 3rd parties, and helped to change the way we as consumers play games. On the other hand, the current Playstation Vita has been struggling. The hardware is impressive for its price and there are some great games, but with the Nintendo 3DS and smart tablets and phones dominating the mobile market, Sony’s latest handheld has barely been noticed.
There is hope though: read our article on saving the Vita here. So far, Sony’s latest Playstation 4 has been a monumental success. The console has garnered critical acclaim while appealing to both hardcore gamers and general consumers alike: sales are estimated to be at 4.2 million as of December 28th, 2013. All of Sony’s first party studios are working on Playstation 4 games. Ever since the announcement of the Playstation 4, Sony has been there for gamers. It’s something that was missing during the last generation. Perhaps, they felt discouraged by letting their fans down, but it’s as if the new console launch indicates something greater; a new age of Playstation.
For years, it’s looked like the home console business was doomed. Rapid evolution of computers and mobile devices could ruin the market where consoles are constrained by hardware that can’t really be upgraded. Game changing devices like the Oculus Rift won’t support home consoles, but will support what is certain to be more powerful hardware. What really is a concern to consoles is that games will continue to evolve in tandem with high end computers to support them. Having a lengthy console generation only holds back developers from creating bigger and and more immersive worlds.
This generation is poised to be a battle between Sony and Microsoft. The two consoles are very similar in hardware; that of a low end gaming PC. The Xbox One seems to be targeting an entirely, more casual market. The heavy integration of games and television are sure to attract families looking for a complete home entertainment system. The Playstation 4 on the other hand, is targeting the hardcore gamers, the same way they did back in the late 90s.
I think for a lot of people that grew up with the Playstation 1 or 2, the announcement of the Playstation 4 felt like a welcome back party. Lots of Playstation fans transitioned to Xbox last generation to be a part of Xbox Live, one of the first online game services. However, the announcement of the Xbox One confused and upset a lot of gamers with unwelcome changes and constant reversals. Sony took this opportunity to bring back the Playstation fans that left last generation. They showed a lot of cool games, an improved controller, a sleeker interface, and powerful hardware. They showcased indie developers and said that Playstation was the best place for indie games. As of late, all three Playstation platforms have been seeing excellent independently produced games. As I mentioned earlier, all of Sonys 12 first party studios are working on Playstation 4 games, and so far only 3 of these games have come out. The magic is in the mystery.
Sony promises there is a lot of exciting things coming to Playstation soon. One of these things is Gaikai’s streaming service dubbed Playstation Now. Playstation Now will allow customers to stream Playstation games directly to and from devices including, PS4, PS3, PS Vita, Bravia Televisions, smartphones, and tablets. Sony purchased Gaikai when it was hemorrhaging money because they knew this streaming service would be a game changer. It was forward thinking: Sony knows that they won’t have Playstation boxes forever.
It really is an exciting time to be Playstation fan. The Playstation Network is expanding exponentially with the help of Playstation Plus. The community is growing because people are passionate again about the Playstation brand. The technology to create photorealistic and immersive worlds is here, and Sony’s studios are making some of the best games on the market available. At the end of the day, game consoles are made to play games, and the Playstation is the best place to do that right now – welcome to the Golden Age.