With Christmas just around the corner, gamers around the World will soon flock to their local retail outlet (or digital hub) to browse the wares of the videogame elite. In 2016 the consumer will certainly have a choice to make between the AAA third-party heavy-hitters: Call of Duty, Battlefield, Fifa, and Titanfall 2 will all play their part in ensuring another successful holiday season for the big publishers. Amongst these multi-platform titles, Xbox One adopters have been spoilt for choice with their own exclusive titles in the form of Gears of War 4, Forza Horizon 3 and Dead Rising 4. PlayStation owners can look forward to a game plagued by delays and disappointing first impressions in the form of The Last Guardian, but that’s the extent of Playstation’s AAA output for the rest of the year. It’s been 3-years since it was released to the public and it begs the question: where are the PlayStation 4 exclusives?
There are those who will cry foul of this article exclaiming the 2016 release of the excellent Uncharted 4 and Ratchet and Clank, but these are just two games from a console manufacturer with an extensive history of diverse AAA titles. The reason PlayStation 3 was able to claw back, and eventually exceed, hardware sales over the Xbox 360 was because of its approach towards delivering a high quantity/quality of games for its varying audience. Titles such as Gran Turismo 5, God of War 3, Heavy Rain, Infamous, Killzone 2, Little Big Planet, MotorStorm, Ratchet and Clank: A Crack in Time, The Resistance trilogy, The Last of Us, and the Uncharted Trilogy all reinforce Sony’s stance on exercising their prerogative of great games unavailable on any other platform. This prerogative feels absent from the PlayStation 4′ current identity.
Phil Spencer’s invigorated Xbox camp have taken a page from Sony’s book by releasing a steady string of exclusive titles for the Xbox One, and now that plan appears to be working as -at the time of writing this – Xbox One hardware sales have topped PlayStation 4 sales for the fourth month in a row. While not aligning with the colossal expectations that Microsoft was projecting, Gears of War 4 and Halo 5: Guardians are AAA titles that have helped leave a dent in Sony’s paltry offerings. Microsoft’s initial and self-imploding reveal of the Xbox One may have started the console on the back foot, but now it’s PlayStation 4’s dependency on third-party titles and its complacency that has set Microsoft on a better path.
Sony’s E3 conference showcased an impressive line-up of AAA titles such as Horizon: Zero Dawn and Detroit: Become Human to name a couple, and, whilst the future is certainly promising, that’s exactly the problem: what have loyal PlayStation 4 fans got to shout about before these system sellers arrive? PlayStation VR’s current status reflects that of a launch console with an added degree of uncertainty and general public apprehension; impressive, albeit expensive, technology missing that killer app. The sales figures aren’t released to the general public, but Sony assures us the VR is meeting expectations, but at what cost? Maybe the problem with a lack of AAA titles hinges on the spread-too-thin resources at Sony HQ? If Guerilla Cambridge hadn’t been working on the VR title RIGS, Who’s to say they wouldn’t’ve been working on another core PlayStation 4 exclusive? Instead, they’ve released a title for what’s essentially a £400 (including camera) add-on.
A scenario: you’ve bought a brand-spanking new PlayStation 4 Pro. You’ve been promised a high-performing, power-enhancing behemoth with increased hard-drive space and HDR-enabled functionality: the most powerful console on the market today. You need to test drive your new toy with something equally new and exciting. The Xbox One section is brimming with exclusive titles that take full advantage of the Xbox S’ inbuilt HDR functionality, but looking at the PlayStation 4 section, you’re at a loss: where are the titles that set this console apart from its rising competition? Another piece of hardware ill-equipped to fully demonstrate and justify the reason for its existence. Sony’s trying hard at the hardware game, but its need for accompanying software has never been greater. It will be interesting to see if Sony’s insistence on hardware over AAA exclusives for 2016 pays off.
2016 Should be noted as the year of videogame delays and customer frustration: Dreams, Horizon: Zero Dawn and Gran Turismo Sport were all games intended for a 2016 release, but ultimately pushed back. No Man’s sky was continuously delayed after years of development time only to be released with mixed reviews and accusations of lying aimed towards lead developer Sean Murray. The hotly anticipated Street Fighter V was released seemingly unfinished; a business strategy that hasn’t paid off when looking at the disappointing sales. What PlayStation fans are left with are promises of great future titles, they just need to be patient whilst Xbox One gathers momentum. Sony’s strategies closely resemble a console that’s just launched as opposed to a console that’s been on the market for 3 years. 2017 and beyond can’t come soon enough for the PlayStation elite!