Thursday, December 3, 2015

My Moral Collapse on the PS4


I've been a big fan of gaming consoles since I was a kid. I had a Pong system way back in the day, and it's probably somewhere in my parents' attic right now.  (Don't laugh; Pong was the sh!t.)  

Later my dad, in his infinite cheapness, bought me an Atari knockoff that I still have to this day; it wasn't an Atari system but it played Atari games - kind of the way a Yugo will get you from place to place as well as a BMW will.  It's buried at the bottom of a steamer trunk - along with a bunch Atari games like the original Mario Brothers (not Super Mario Brothers, so this is real old school) - and the last time I checked (about 20 years ago) it still worked.  However, I'm unlikely to ever play that game system again; the last two TVs I connected it to went on the fritz shortly thereafter, and I blame the cheap-azz console for that.

Fast-forward to the present, and you'll find that I've advanced from knockoffs to premium brand consoles (not out of ego, but a desire not to ruin any more televisions). First and foremost on that list is the Sony Playstation.  I've loved playing Sony games, and I was fine with being a customer for life. Then they released the Playstation 4.
Don't get me wrong, I've got nothing against the PS4 itself. I think it's a great console and constituted a nice step forward for the next generation of gaming.  What bothers me, however, was the business decision by Sony execs not to make the gaming system backwards-compatible.  In other words, it won't play games for previous-generation consoles. So nothing designed for the PS3 or earlier Playstation systems will work on the PS4.

To me, this is a complete slap in the face and shows a profound lack of respect for Sony customers. In essence, when an earlier PS console stops working (and at some point they will), the only options are to either not play those games any more, or buy a new PS, PS2 or PS3. (This is in addition to buying the PS4 if you want to play the latest games.)  In essence, this feels like a decision that is ultimately designed to put more money into Sony's pocket. I mean, let's face it:  most people are going to take the position of "you can't fight city hall." They'll gripe a little, but then shell out the cash for the PS4 with a what-are-you-gonna-do? mentality.

Personally, I feel like you can fight city hall.  I think people - especially consumers - can make a difference on issues like this.  (Remember "New Coke"? The public outcry was so bad that they had to bring back the original Coca-Cola. Good luck finding New Coke anywhere these days...) I may be a voice crying out in the wilderness, but I refused to bend on this topic.  Thus, for the past two years, I have adamantly refused to purchase the PS4.  (Yes, I know that Sony has yielded to some extent and is taking some steps in the right direction in terms of allowing the PS4 to play older games, but it's not enough and it's something they should have taken care of in the first place.) So I've been standing pat, refusing to yield since 2013 - my head bloodied, but unbowed. Until now.

Last month, Bethesda Game Studios released Fallout 4. I'm not even going to beat around the bush here: I  love - I mean absolutely love - the Fallout series, and apparently others feel the same:  Fallout 4 had the biggest game launch of the year, generating $750 million in sales during the first 24 hours of release.  (By contrast, the next game on the list - Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 - generated $550 million sales during the first 72 hours of release.)

Without going into a lot of detail, in Fallout you play a customizable character in a post-apocalyptic world populated not only by people but also (just to name a few) mutated plants and animals, killer robots, murderous raiders...not to mention offshoots of humanity such as Super Mutants and irradiated ghouls.  There isn't another game series out there like it.  (If there is, someone please clue me in.) 

Needless to say, I want this game. Badly. Possibly even bad enough to compromise my stance on buying a PS4.  I haven't completely thrown in the towel, but when my wife pointedly asked if I wanted the PS4 for Christmas, I kind of whimpered instead of adamantly shouting "No!" as I have in the past.  (I even made her aware of the fact that the PS4 bundle goes on sale Dec. 6 for $299.)  In short, it seems that I may have caved in all but name only - I just haven't actually said the words. (I also can't bring myself to actually buy the PS4 of my own volition, which is why Mrs. Wonderful will have to do it.)

Of course, I'm wholeheartedly ashamed of my moral collapse on this issue.  After all, somebody has to be willing to take a stand, even when it's futile.  I fought the good fight for two years and was willing to keep at it indefinitely. In order to stay on point with my message, I would also have willingly forgone a lot: Uncharted 4 (which is coming in 2016), whatever's next in the God of War franchise, etc.  But my Achilles heel has been revealed. Plainly speaking, Fallout 4 is simply a must-have for me.  However, I will still continue to push for backwards compatibility, and to Sony I say this: you didn't break me or my resolve - Fallout 4 did.  




17 comments:

  1. Hate to rain on your parade, but from what I understand, backwards emulation for Sony Consoles is alot harder than for Microsoft or Nintendo consoles. For whatever reason, Sony changes each of their consoles a lot when it comes to hardware and types of processors, etc. The original PS3's actually originally played PS2 games not through emulation, but by actually sticking a mini ps2 into the console. That's why the originals were so fat. They eventually removed it and tried to emulate using software but the results were not as good. They eventually dropped it altogether. Evidently the PS4 is even harder to emulate PS4 games one (some good new though is that Sony may be leaning towards playing PS2 games)

    "The Xbox 360 was built on a PowerPC architecture, which is quite different from the x86-64 architecture of the Xbox One, but the difference is not so great that it completely prevents emulation.

    On the other hand, the PS3 was built on an extremely hi-tech state-of-the-art architecture based on the Cell processor and on its SPU (Synergistic Processing Unit). That required games to be specifically optimized to run on that kind of hardware.

    That’s the reason why there has always been a large gap between first party and third party games on PS3. Almost only first party developers had the resources and the know-how to develop games fully optimized for the console’s peculiar architecture, while most third parties had to settle for a compromise.

    The problem is that the Cell and its SPU are so unique and peculiar that they most probably make emulation impossible, at least on current generation consoles. It’s normally possible to “brute force” emulation by using hardware that is massively more powerful than the target. The problem is that current generation consoles, including the PS4, don’t exactly have a massively powerful CPU."

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    1. I think PS Now is available for streaming older games - not all of them, of course, but some. Speaking frankly, however, I'm not interested in paying a second time for games I already have.

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  2. Also, if you want to take a moral stand against any company, take a stand against Nintendo. They artificially keep the price of their games up by limiting supply or stopping it all together and they take forever to drop them knowing that their systmes has horrible third party games so that any Nintendo owner will eventually have to drop money to buy the near full priced Zelda game. Even used copies of first party Nintendo games are expensive. I wanted to buy Ocarina of Time for the 3DS. However, Nintendo stopped production of the game back in January. They did this to force anyone who wanted a copy to buy it directly from their eshop where the game is still full price, never goes on sale, and they get more of the profits. Ocarina of time is not a game that needs to stop being made. It's still popular. For whatever reason, out of the blue, it seems that decided to make a limited physical run of games and shipped them to Best Buy where I jumped on it. So rather than drop $40 plus tax on the Nintendo eshop, I picked up a physical copy, which I could later sell if I wanted, for $32 and it was buy 1 get 1 50% off so all together a much better deal I almost missed out since I was about to bite the bullet and buy directly from Nintendo.

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    1. Similarly the Wii U can play Wii games, but Nintendo doesn't sell them directly on the Wii Shop. Is there any particular reason why I shouldn't be able to buy the Wii Twilight Princess or Skyward sword digitally. At this point, Nintendo offers digital games, especially for the 3DS, and Sony and Microsoft does as well, even back with 360 and PS3, so there is no reason Nintendo can't. A used copy of Skyward Sword is around $40+ bucks when it should be $20 or so digitally based on how Sony and Microsoft sell older generation games digitally. One possible reason is that they plan of remastering them. Nintendo has announced they will remaster Twilight Princess for the Wii U like they did with Wind Waker.

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  3. My ps3 has always played ps2 and ps1 games.... its not the software or the hardware, its that sony specifically programed the ps4 not to play anything without a certain code written into the game. Ive heard alot of excuses, like its 64 bit so it cant read smaller games... wrong, it cant read larger bit games, smallers not a problem.

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    1. I just want to start off my response by saying that after the PS2, I primarily owned Microsoft consoles. The 360 and then the One. I didn't own a PS3 until Dec 2014 and don't even own a PS4...yet.

      That being said, congrats on owning an original first generation "fat" ps3....which doesn't apply here at all. Like I mentioned in my posts, the original PS3's didn't emulate PS2 or PS1 games. They played those games not through emulation, but by actually sticking a mini ps2 inside. At the end of the PS2 cycle, Sony had released the PS2 slim which was tiny compared to the original PS2. They actually stuck one inside. After the original PS3's were overheating and they needed to cut costs they removed that and tried to play PS2 game by emulation. They eventually dropped this all together when the PS2 slims came out and then the super slim. PS1 titles can be played on all of them but again, emulating PS1 games is a breeze. Our phones could do it years ago. So both the slim PS3 and the superslim PS3 don't play PS2 games. Therefore, the same exact argument for not owning a PS4 can be used against the PS3. Heck, it's even worse since the PS3 originally had it and then got rid of it. Which Nintendo also did with the DS. Only the DS and Ds Lite play GBA games. The DSi and Dsi XL dropped that feature.
      2nd, it is the hardware and software. You can probably google a hundred articles about why the PS3 was a nightmare to program for. Here's a quote I found.
      "Developers also found the machine difficult to program for. In 2007, Gabe Newell of Valve said "The PS3 is a total disaster on so many levels, I think it's really clear that Sony lost track of what customers and what developers wanted". He continued "I'd say, even at this late date, they should just cancel it and do a do over. Just say, 'This was a horrible disaster and we're sorry and we're going to stop selling this and stop trying to convince people to develop for it'"
      There's also another issue here. First off, neither Sony or Microsoft had any backwards compatibility when the consoles came out. However, unlike Microsoft which originally essentially did nothing, Sony came up with PS Now, essentially a game streaming service where you can stream PS3 games onto your PS4. It hasn't really picked up and the pricing scheme is wonky at best, but they invested money into it. So for Sony to turn around and invest lots of money into creating emulation software for the PS4 to play PS3 games is expensive. Conversely, Microsoft didn't give us backwards compatibility out of the kindness of their heart. Xbox one is losing this generation in both sales of consoles and games. Star Wars Battlefront sold a lot more on PS4 than Xbox One and PC combined. They came up with backwards compatibility because a) they never invested into a streaming service b) it's easier for them because the Xbox One is far more similar to the 360 and PS4 is to PS3 c) they need to increase sales and having a feature than Sony can't have due to hardware and business reasons is a sound advantage.

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    2. Back in the '90s, when cassettes were starting to decline as the dominant form of music, my wife bought me a portable CD player. It was mostly so I could play CDs in my car (since my vehicle at the time only had a cassette player), and to that end it had a cassette adapter.

      My point is that somebody saw the trend in music (going from cassettes to CDs) and created a device to exploit that niche. People with cassettes players didn't have to rush out and buy CD players (or repurchase all of their favorite music on CDs). Likewise, it seems that there's a market for a separate, stand-alone device that will let you play older PS games on the PS4. Someone just needs to invent it.

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  4. Its not a 1st gen ps3. Its all in the programming. Its not because of the reader.

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  5. And really on making something for the ps4 to read other games, they can just have a read/hardrive the converts the data, and then have it interface through the usb port. I mean the usb port pretty much makes it where the ps4 can power whatever it is, and transfer data back and forth

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  6. Oh, hey i should mention my ps3 may have been modded before i got it, so i may be wrong on sony getting the programming fixed.

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  7. I have to admit, I share to some degree your stance on the backwards compatibility issue. When PS2 came out, and could only play some of the original PS1 games, I was already annoyed. Especially when I found out the magical fix for it at the time was to add a small amount of scotch tape to each 2 sides of the central hole of your PS1 discs to weigh them down because the problem was not in fact backwards compatibility, it was the DVD drive in the PS2 was overpowered in comparison to a CD drive and the discs would jump and skip as a result, causing read issues. But I accepted that it was hard to change things and enjoyed my PS2.

    Then the Xbox came out, with promises of backwards compatibility for Shenmue at least insofar as transferring game data from the first game on Sega's Dreamcast to an Xbox memory card through the auspices of your local Electronics Boutique. A promise which to the best of my knowledge, was undelivered on. Thus my issues with backwards compatibility rose once again.

    Then came the PS3, the Xbox 360, and the Wii. All of which had backwards compatibility issues in one form or another. In all fairness, my issues with the Wii were more one of parallel compatibility, as I enjoyed the Super Game Boy and Game Boy Player add-ons of the Super Nintendo and Gamecube which allowed me to play my portable games on the big tv in my living room. But as to the others, the idea of having to have multiple consoles and the need to replace them in case of device fault, an issue which seemed more and more likely the longer I owned them, brought my fury to new heights.

    And then, as you pointed out, they started bringing out online networks, PSN, Xbox Live/Marketplace, and Nintendo Store, all nice attempts to provide classic games to contemporary gamers for a moderate price. But for those of us who already owned these games, especially those that never saw the light of the online store, I still have physical copies of Earthbound, Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, and Super Metroid, 3 of my all-time favorite SNES games, it was a strong arm effort to part us from our money with a format, that in my opinion, could not be guaranteed.

    And thus we reach my current dissatisfaction with electronic gaming. While I admit, the idea of digital downloads, and cloud storage for everything from your copy of the game to your save files is very tempting, I am still very much an analog gamer. I like getting that box with the game cartridge or disc inside, pulling out the manual and looking at the art as I, among a grand total of roughly 30 people who actually read the manual before playing the game, slowly turn the pages, digesting the information within in an attempt to make my first forays into the game world less fumbling. Not to mention all the goodies that used to be available in some of those physical game boxes. Artwork, cels, memorabilia from the game or the franchise. Paying an extra $10 for a collectors edition used to get you something worthwhile, now it gets you a new skin for a gun you already have, "oh yay, now my gun is orange and green, it shoots so much better with a new paint job!"

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    1. But to the point at hand, we are currently touting cloud storage for all your digital media, but what happens in 10 years when we've moved on to the next new thing. Who is going to maintain all these cloud servers. Who is going to guarantee that when Final Fantasy 27 is coming out on Playstation 13 that you will still be able to go back and play Final Fantasy 7 HD Remake from your cloud server? For that matter, when they stop producing older console models, how are you supposed to play those old game, regardless of whether you have physical copies or digital ones? Do you see the game console developers providing officially licensed, fully functional PC/Mac/Linux console emulators for those faithful fans who have spent 10's of thousands of dollars on them over the years? If a gamer drops $600-700 bucks on a console, probably more than that when the next gen comes out, there should be some sort of guarantee of accessibility for the games it plays in the long run. Considering how many third party fans create emulators, I can't imagine Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft couldn't put a few people on creating a licensed version emulator for each of their consoles, or an all in one that can play any game through the currently available disc drive on your computer or external hdd( to back up those digital copies) that could be updated a few years after a new console comes out to add it. They could even sell it for $10-50 bucks, and let's face it, for a guarantee, we probably wouldn't complain just so we could replay all our favorite older games.

      Now if you'll forgive me, I think I'm going to go hook my Gamecube back up and play Ocarina of Time: Master Quest. Thanks bluescluessuperagent for putting that little worm in my brain.

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    2. Since I'm not a huge fan of hooking up a game controller to my PC for that option, I guess what we need is for the various console developers to put out Legacy Consoles. Either consoles that act as multi-platform, say PS1 and PS2 together, or just low cost, optimal build consoles, that they will produce on a fairy regular basis in small quantities except for the initial run. This way you can always replace your broken console, similar to how Nintendo put out that new SNES about a decade ago to solve that issue. Cost $20, it was nice. They would only need to put out a legacy console say 10 years after a console launched. That doesn't seem to unreasonable when you figure the average console has a 5-6 year game development lifespan. 4-5 years in, developers are already building games for the next gen system. So, another 4-5 years selling off excess consoles, then put out the legacy version, a little smaller, a little less power hungry, maybe fix a few flaws from the earlier version. They could even start selling bundled games, 2-10 games in one pack, although probably more than 1 disc. Sell them all at a reasonable price, and gamers like myself who enjoy building collections or getting older games they couldn't afford when they came out would snap them up in droves.

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    3. For the record, I always read the manual before playing the game. (Of course, some of them don't even come with a manual any more, but that's a different story.)

      As to cloud storage, digital libraries are the direction I tend to see things going: instead of buying a physical copy at Gamestop or such, you'll buy a digital version that gets stored in the cloud. (Of course, it will cost the same 60 bucks - don't expect them to pass on any cost savings from packaging, shipping, etc. to you. And - as bluescluessuperagent noted above - it will always be fully priced, because every copy will be "new.") Personally, I feel that you should get a credit on PS Now and those other networks for games that you already own. Making you buy them again is like forcing you to pay for a full tank of gas every time you stop at a service station.

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    4. A good example of that would be Amazon.com, buy a book, and get the ebook and/or audiobook at a discount rate for many titles. While I'm not super thrilled paying twice for the same book, since I'm not likely to type it up after I purchase a print copy so I can have it on my Kindle, this might be a good deal.

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