After a terribly disappointing E3 conference, it’s great to see Sony back in the swing of things. Gamescom wrapped up a couple of days ago and it’s been revealed that Sony will finally deliver on the promised interplay between the PS3 and the Vita.
The biggest news from Sony is that a bunch of the most anticipated games of the later half of the year will be released on both the PS3 and Vita, and that buying the game on one platform means getting it for free on the other. Sony’s calling is Cross-buy, and while it’s not exactly earth shattering, it is what players have been scrambling over ever since the Vita came out.
Because, you know, buying a $400 PS3, a $300 Vita ( plus a $50-$100 memory card), and then paying $100 when you want to play a game on both is a little ridiculous. Maybe Sony will be able to sell some Vitas now that gamers will essentially be getting free games for it.
The announced games that will support cross-buy will be PlayStation All-Stars, Ratchet and Clank Q-Force, and Sly Cooper. Not a big list but Sony promises that cross-buy is here to stay and that more will definitely come.
At the same time, they also showed off some great cross-play between the platforms. During the Little Big Planet demo, the sack dude jumped off the screen, “landed” on the Vita, and was able to be taken away and played on the go. Pretty cool, but I need to see more of it.
Too Little, Too Late?
While many are super excited about this (mostly exiting Vita owners, by the way), I’m a little skeptical. I really want Sony to pull this out. I’ve always been faithful to them, but lately they haven’t given me anything to go on. From killing off backwards compatibility, to killing off key PS3 features, to building lackluster support around the fairly practical Move, to releasing the Vita as basically a Beta product, I’m kinda tired of empty promises and I’m not the only one.
Microsoft has a huge lead and they have proven time and again that they are thinking ahead of Sony. SmartGlass is literally a game changer. Xbox Live has always destroyed the PSN, and although you have to pay for it, at least it works well and doesn’t get hacked. If I want to buy something on the PSN, I don’t use a credit card because I’ve lost faith in Sony’s security.
I don’t know how the public will respond to Sony’s new strategies. Free games are always a good incentive, but is it good enough to resurrect the Vita? I’ll tell you the answer: It will only work if Sony sticks to it and puts out more (much more) cross-buy AND cross-play titles. The fact that Little Big Planet was the only Cross-Play title demonstrated is an ill-omen for me.
But let’s not end on that terrible note. I still have a PS3 and I’m sure many of you do as well. Well it’s going to get a workout with some of the amazing looking games coming to it soon. First of all, we’ve got some games that really show how much Sony is reaching for the most unique games on the market. New IPs! Which is awesome, of course!
This game looks as awesome as it looks dumb. I’m not sure what to really think about this one, other than it’s another LBP-ish platformer but with levels that change as you play them and instead of Sackboy, you’re some kind of deviant that stole scissors from a puppeteer and was turned into a puppet. However, controlling the scissors in a world created by a puppeteer sounds pretty fun. This is one to keep an eye on.
No it’s not a stepped down version of Heavy Rain. It will be a PSN exclusive, but before you run in fear, watch the damn video. Pretty good huh? It’s another one of those 3rd person adventure/platformer games that have been fairly popular amonst Indie circles, but it seems that the main character can only be seen in the rain. Apparently the main character is some sort of ghost that is chasing after another ghostly girl who always remains out of his reach. Both characters are only visible in the rain, providing an interesting gameplay mechanic to deal with. Overall, it looks to be an interesting adventure title with a great story.
Another brand new IP for Sony, Until Dawn is not your typical horror game. Ironically enough, it’s actually stylized after teenage horror movies. Here’s the story teaser from the Sony’s reveal to give you an idea:
“One night, eight teenagers, a remote mountain on the anniversary of their friend’s mysterious death … The power’s out, there’s no phone reception and you’re trying to get the blonde cheerleader to notice you. What could possibly go wrong?”
Sounds like a terrible horror movie, but am I the only one interested in seeing this reproduced in a game format? It’s being created by Supermassive Games as a PS3 and Move exclusive, meaning you’ll use your Move controller to point your flashlight, aim and fire weapons, tune radios, solve puzzles, and generally deal with the environment. There will also be 7 different characters to play through, and here’s to hoping that you get to throw the stupid cheerleader to her death.
Check out this fact sheet for some more pics and examples.
The Other Big Games
I’m not going to go into detail about the bigger releases, like Black Ops 2 (for PS3 and Vita apparently), Playstation All Stars, the new Sly Cooper game or the new Ratchet and Clank game, because honestly, they’re going to be good and you don’t really need to know more. You will buy them and love them (if you have a PS3, that is).
Sony also finally released Playstation Mobile, which is to say, they finally opened up their own app store. Basically, it seems more like an advertising scheme between Sony and Android OEMs than a way to bring real games to Android, but it’s nice to see Sony putting it’s gaming muscle into Android, regardless.
Essentially, the Playstation Mobile app will be available to those phones and tablets that are supported, and this app will unlock, according to Sony, a “wide range of portable experiences.” This means it will be a store, where you can buy mini-games that appear to be mostly spin-offs of popular Sony IPs. New titles are slated to be added to mix, with developers such as THQ, Team 17, Action Button Entertainment, Muteki Corp., Viambeer VOF, and Necrosoft. Playstation Mobile will also connect with your PSN ID, which I’m thinking may mean that these mini-games will be cross-buy and cross-play compatible with the PS3 and Vita. I haven’t tried this out, but I’m hoping.
I don’t understand why Sony can’t just add the games to the Play Store, like EA and various other games companies. Well, actually I do understand why. The reasoning is betrayed by the “compatible devices” that Sony showed off. On the day of the conference, Sony pointed to it’s own phones and tablets (duh), as well as Asus’ tablets and, in a bizarre twist, the Wikipad. To sum it all up, HTC announced soon after the the fact that some of it’s devices would soon get the app as well. What does this mean? Well, since Asus’ tablets are shown alongside the Wikipad while Samsung, Motorola, and Acer are ignored, one can only assume that this has everything to do with advertising. Sony’s not looking to cash out from game sales, it’s looking to cash out with profitable contracts with OEMs. Therefore, we can assume that since Sony’s ambition is to get companies on-board, their attention to the store and games themselves will be predictably lackluster.
Keep in mind, this is only my opinion, and it should be taken with a grain of salt. However, since Sony was only forthcoming with the developers who’d signed up, the OEMs that signed up, and not any games that were being developed, it’s clear that Sony was targeting this release at OEMs, not gamers. We’ll see what happens, but I’m skeptical.
Necromancy Is Much Harder Than Moving On
So wraps up another Gamescom. It’s great to see that Sony is finally catching up the promises they made last year, but it’s also disappointing. In a world where technology moves fast, we tend to expect huge developments every time a Sony or Microsoft decides to throw a party. We got a couple of good tidbits, like cross-buy and some great new IPs, but cross-buy should have been released with the Vita. The fact that it wasn’t released then shows how much Sony was hoping to cash in with the Vita. The fact that it is being released a year later shows how desperate Sony is. The Vita doesn’t sell, and therefore, neither do the games. The PS3 is slowing down as well. People are losing faith in both MS’ and Sony’s consoles now that they are heading to the end of their cycles. But at least the Xbox 360 has SmartGlass to look forward to. What to PS3 owners have? More games? An expensive year-old unsuccessful portable console they feel compelled to buy only because they’re getting free games for it? Maybe-sorta-cross-play compatibility? ONE, count them, ONE new game that supports the Move?
It’s great to see things finally coming around for Sony’s consoles, but while Microsoft is moving at the speed of light, Sony is still stuck trying to fix square one. I’ll enjoy the PS3 games. Heck I may even pick up a Vita to try out this cross-play/buy thing. But the fact that everything is coming together a year before you release your next console is a little insulting. Just saying.