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The Future of the PlayStation 4 is Bright, and it’s in Our Hands
Optimism is in my nature. I like to assume the best about people, and I always try to see the bright side of life. Of course, the “opinion of the internet” doesn’t always trend that way. As the internet has brought millions of people together, it’s also been a catalyst for anger. Everyone who’s upset about something can find like-minded people on the internet, and together they become the vocal minority—not representative of the average opinion, yet a thousand times more public.
I don’t enjoy negativity like that. Constructive criticism is always a good thing, but vitriol is just destructive. I think the angry side of the internet is, unfortunately, an inevitability. There’s always going to be somebody who can’t properly control and express their emotions. That being said, I’d like to do what I can to counter that attitude.
The future of the PlayStation 4, and really the future of video games as a whole, looks more incredible now than ever before. The console’s launch has blown its predecessor out of the water. The PlayStation 3 only had twelve titles at launch in 2006. The PlayStation 4 more than doubled that number, and has continued with great releases like Infamous: Second Son in the year since. Sony shows no signs of slowing down, either. PlayStation 4 owners can look forward to a serious roster of exciting games on the horizon, including the previously delayed Driveclub, the dark and mysterious Vanishing of Ethan Carter, horror thriller Alien: Isolation, and Bloodborne, the ultra-hard spiritual successor to the cult classic Demon’s Souls, just to name a few.
While an extensive list of releases is thrilling, what really excites me about the future of the PlayStation 4 is its potential. All you need to do is take a look at the graphics of the PlayStation 3’s launch titles to see how far developers stretched the hardware in its eight-year lifespan. The old games almost look silly in comparison to something like The Last of Us, which has some of the most breathtaking art and environmental design ever seen in a game. Admittedly, the dramatic difference could be partially blamed on the PlayStation 3’s infamously arcane developer tools, but I see that as another point in the PlayStation 4’s favor. Since Sony has publicly designed the developer tools for the PlayStation 4 to be its most friendly ever, developers can start making great games right off the bat instead of struggling with dev tools for years. The dev-friendly tools also place the PlayStation 4 decisively back on the map for a lot of studios who had previously abandoned the PlayStation 3.
It might seem like the PlayStation 4 has been in something of a drought for the past couple of months and that Sony’s momentum was nothing more than a flash in the pan, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Every year has its video game “drought periods,” and they usually bookend the holiday season where most of the big, important releases gather. However, that’s a trend that will likely fade within a year, if not sooner. One of Sony’s big moves for the PlayStation 4 was a focus on independently developed games, which tend to release when they’re finished rather than relying on the potential business from a summer or holiday release. Considering the recent proliferation of PlayStation Plus subscribers, and that Sony’s giving a lot of those indie titles to Plus subscribers gratis, it’s safe to assume we’re going to notice a more balanced release schedule year-round.
The emphasis on indie games is a trend that Sony’s adopted from the PC gaming scene, which has enjoyed a recent renaissance of indie titles. Some of the most popular have been ported for the PlayStation 4, such as the Tim Burton-esque survival game Don’t Starve: Console Edition and the forthcoming Binding of Isaac: Rebirth. The whole indie zeitgeist gained momentum because of the free-wheeling spirit of independent games; because indie studios aren’t beholden to publisher’s sales expectations and ‘demographic appeal’, originality is the most desirable trait of an indie game. When every developer is focused on their own interesting ideas rather than following trends, the result is more diverse and interesting games, which is something everyone can enjoy.
The last console generation lasted nearly a decade, and I think it’s safe to expect the current generation to easily cross that threshold. To everyone who watched the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 get stretched perhaps two years too far with novelty peripherals like PlayStation Move and Kinect, the idea of a console cycle going on for more than ten years might sound scary. Me? I’m not worried. Sony has dramatically shown the world that the PlayStation 4 will learn from the mistakes of its predecessor, and has gained many fans in the process. This says to me that they’ll continue to evolve throughout the life of the PlayStation 4, and they’ll remain receptive to the desires of their consumers.
I’m excited for the future of the PlayStation 4 and the future of video games in general. There may be some unsavory trends, like unethical DLC practices, but people are vocal enough to counter those things now. Modern video game enthusiasts have a more direct line of communication with developers than ever before, and in turn have more power to voice their desires to the market. The internet and social media have enabled a consumer-oriented restructuring of game development, and that’s the kind of reactive relationship we as consumers deserve. The ball is in our court now, and it’s our turn to dictate what kind of games we want to buy. That’s the biggest turnabout this generation, and it’s the coolest thing to happen to video games in years. The future is bright because, now, it’s up to us to decide what the future holds.