After watching the conference yesterday, it left a bit of a sour taste in my mouth. Not in the fact that the games look decidedly different, I have no complaints on visual aesthetic. Rather, I was particularly amused by the extent of over-explanation and bogged down information that had to be forced into our faces to differentiate and almost pitch WHY this system’s existence had to be justified.
I was also rather irked by the lovely little message I saw at the bottom of every PS4 demo. You may have caught a glimpse of it, and it is certainly something you will want to keep an eye out for:
We’re entering this weird middle ground now with consoles thanks to PS4 Pro, and the recently released Xbox One S. This weird, confusing space where games aren’t running on new gen hardware, but are still running on hardware that outperforms the original launch hardware only a couple years after release. This strange ecosystem that now has to separate itself from current hardware by showing every game we see from now on as running on the, “superior hardware,” as opposed to the old models.
Every game we see at any gaming conference now will most likely be showing the Pro version, leaving every early adopter to wonder, “What will it run like, look like, or even play like when I play it on my launch hardware?”
Now we live in a world where developers have to build their game even more times to get it working on old hardware, than make the shinier/faster versions for the newer hardware. As if the patching and DLC ecosystem wasn’t bloated in the first place we now face a future of even more patches, more bug-fixes, and more unneeded work down the line.
This push for middle ground hardware is not only confusing to the consumer, but fear inducing for the future of how we play games.
Upgraded hardware is nothing new. Phones, tablets, and PC’s in particular have been doing it for years. The issue I take with this mindset entering the console space however, is that consoles are not as vastly multimedia as the above hardware is.
Your phone has a multitude of applications, and I don’t mean that in terms of its app store. Phones communicate, play games, perform work activities, and serve hundreds upon hundreds of other options, as do PC’s and Tablets.
But a gaming device, plays games. It may have the bells and whistles to stream some media or play some movies, but its overall function is to play gaming media. Upgrading the hardware to this small degree and forcing this ecosystem onto the audience to not only confuse them, but divide them into two communities is asinine.
I have to give Sony credit that all the hardware will play the same games. That fact alone is nice and helpful but the double edged sword is the fact that a majority of the games you will play will be inferior to the upgraded version that completely burns you if you’re one of the near 60-million people that bought a PS4 in the not even 3-years since it released.
We have all experienced this generation of games. Time and time again there have been a multitude of games that from launch have been near broken in terms of gameplay, from WatchDogs, Assassin’s Creed Unity, Battlefield 4, Halo MCC, and more. We’ve been burned by patches time and time again that have to fix the games that should have been ready to go on launch, and now we have to expect games to be DOUBLE-PATCHED to run the separate versions of the games on PS4? We have to trust that the developers aren’t going to focus resources on the nicer version of the game, or prioritize that build more over the now, “inferior version?”
This isn’t even in terms of visual aesthetic. It has been stated that PS4 games on Pro will run at higher framerates and VR on Pro will be substantially different from running on launch hardware. Where does this leave the countless individuals that own a current PS4? How will games continue to flesh out in the long run? What happens in another year or two when the Scorpio launches and Playstation launches something to combat it where it falls into another weird category of not a new generation but a better version of an already existing system?
Was this really necessary or worth it in the long run? Could they not have rested on their laurels another year or two and just released an even more powerful Playstation 5 that maybe had backwards compatibility with PS4 games? Could they not have released a peripheral or an expansion that allowed these changes to happen?
It was mentioned yesterday that HDR gaming will be patched into all existing PS4’s and into the Pro, which only makes me further question the purpose of this new console. Could this not have been released as an expansion for everyone to have access to over a brand new console? The N64 had an expansion pak way back in the day which was proprietary to play DK64, Majora’s Mask, Banjo Tooie and other more intensive games, but you didn’t see Nintendo releasing a brand new console just to fix that issue either.
The entire concept of the Pro has taken the gaming community by storm and upset not only the consumers, but developers and industry critics alike.
The future of the console industry is foggy and unpredictable as of late. I’d like to hope that the PS4PRO won’t divide the community in the ways I have outlined but I can’t really see that happening. Only time will tell as the console rolls out this November and respective games get released. It could go one way or the other, where standard versions are inferior and broken, or the newer versions are buggy and unplayable, or even that everything works out fine and this is the hopeless griping of someone that can’t see a nice future in constant console upgrades.
But hey. This is why I went PC anyway.