Feature: Playstation 4 & Xbox 720: Some Reasons To Worry

playstation 4The next generation of home consoles is tantalisingly close, we all know it, even if it hasn’t been confirmed by the likes of Sony or Microsoft. Our first official confirmation on the future of home consoles is set to be dished out in spades at The Future of Playstation meeting being held by Sony on February 20th.

While we’re all excited about the prospect of playing into a new era of gaming and marvelling at the wonderful technology that’ll be present in these next generation systems, there’s an awful lot that could go disastrously wrong.

Speaking completely as a person who enjoys an hour or two of playing video games each day, there are some features of the next-gen consoles being rumoured and leaked that worry me, and I’m sure they worry a lot of you too.

1. Used games

I buy a lot of games, probably too many, but if they’re cheap, they’re mine! Most of the games I buy are pre-owned, either bought on eBay from another fan of video games, or Amazon, or I’ll spot a bargain in my local retailer and nab it before anybody else does.

This is obviously pissing off the big players in the industry, the publishers hate the fact that we can go out a week after a game has been released and get it for a little bit less. To a certain degree, I have to say I can see their point. This Christmas I was in my local GAME store (UK based video game retailer) and I noticed a brand new copy of Assassin’s Creed III was marked at £39.99, then right underneath the brand new copy sat the same game with a pre-owned label slapped on it. The price: £37.99, plus a code for some form of DLC. That works out a better deal than getting the game brand new, it’s cheaper and you get some DLC, win-win! Though that isn’t quite the case, even for a thrifty gamer, £37.99 for a used game is, for want of a better expression, taking the piss.

This is the reason that publishers are slapping on useless pre-order “bonuses” and placing micro-transactions in games and making us pay to play online if we buy their game used. They’ve done the hard work, they created the product, they’ve let the retailer sell the product and keep a little bit of the profit for themselves, but that same retailer is then taking back the game they’ve sold, probably giving the customer who trades it in a pretty raw deal, then selling it for near enough the same price as new, therefore, massively increasing their profit on that game.

When it’s put out straight forward as I’ve done above, it’s suddenly clear who the real bad guys are: the retailers. They’ve already had their bite of the biscuit but now they’re not only having an extra bite, they’re taking the packet, scoffing it down then snorting the crumbs. Greedy bastards…

For gamers on a budget, it’s an easy decision, buy the cheaper option. What if it isn’t really an option with the Playstation 4 or Xbox 720? This is my pure opinion, based on what rumours we’ve all heard doing the rounds, but if it’s in fact true that there’s going to be a mechanism that forces you to pay an extra fee when you put a used game in your console, or even locking out used games all together, then gaming is going to become a sport of the riches, like water-polo of shooting foxes in the countryside, whatever the rich lot do.

Instead of being able to get a game cheaper down the line, you could end up having to pay top price for games, games that may well turn out to be absolute crap. 007: Legends, anybody? Which brings me onto my next point…

2. Game Prices

Games are already expensive, at the start of this generation they were more or less in line with what it would cost to get a new game on the Playstation 2. For example, I bought Call of Duty 3 for the Xbox 360 when it came out, it set me back a cool £29.99. I also distinctly remember my mate who only had a PS2 around the same time telling me he got Call of Duty 3 on the PS2 for…£29.99.

Fast forward to today and you’re looking at £54.99 for a brand new “Top” game at retail, and around £44.99 for a normal game that hasn’t received the hype that Assassin’s Creed or Call of Duty demand. That’s almost double what we were paying for our games that are still being played on the same console. You could argue that some games are so good they deserve the price, but there are an awful lot of games that just don’t deserve to even be presented to the public, let alone ask us to buy them for money, like actual real cash.

This is a factor that hasn’t really been discussed much over the last couple of months, with most people being interested in what is going to be inside the machine (I’ve no interest, I couldn’t tell you what an AMD is compared to an STD,) the price of the games we’ll be playing on these new consoles hasn’t been thought about. You can guarantee one thing, they will be expensive. They could be the same price as the games we buy today and still be categorised as expensive, but I think it’s safe for us to assume that as time goes on, the games will cost a lot more. How much? I haven’t the foggiest, but if you see The Games Cabin reviewing the Super Nintendo and Sega Mega Drive and it’s games in around 12 months time, they’re far too expensive for us to afford. Sorry! (SNES and Mega Drive were ace though, so it’s not that bad…)

3. Peripherals

Peripherals, oh how you’ve made us wince in shame and shrug without caring as we pass you…

Since Nintendo revolutionised motion-based gaming back with the Nintendo Wii, Microsoft came up with their own take with the Kinect and Sony, not wanting to be “that” kid in the playground, stepped up with the Playstation Move.

Whilst the Wii was a huge success, the Kinect has more or less been laughed off as a bad joke, with some pretty dire titles to go with it (Kinect Star Wars anyone?) whereas the Playstation Move has had a little more success with some solid titles and a few alright one, though neither is the dominating force in the living room. I’m quite chuffed with this too. Yes, the Wii was great for swinging your arms around like a loony until you woke the next morning and couldn’t hold anything that weighed more than a teabag, but the Playstation Move and Xbox Kinect were add-ons, completely and utterly optional pieces of hardware. I like it that way, I prefer to use a proper controller rather than have to push the furniture to the wall when I want to play some games, but it’s looking pretty clear that the next generation of consoles will insist on you using the peripherals.

Sony and Microsoft have seen the massive chunk of sales the Wii took from them with their family friendly casual gaming device, and they’ve wanted some of that casual pie too. Don’t be surprised if the Xbox 720 and Playstation 4 ship with the peripherals. At the moment the Kinect is little more than a microphone, something you shout at to give commands to other characters in games, or awkwardly try to steer a car whilst holding your hand out in front of you, slowly aching to death as you flip round the last bend and cock it all up on the last lap.

I don’t want to be forced to use anything, and neither do others. We’ve all grown fond of our little controllers and their buttons, but should I be required to make a gesture to break into a car in GTA V, or flick the Playstation Move Wand up in the air if I want to throw a grenade, I will lose my shit faster than you can say Kinect is crap. (Not biased, but c’mon, if you’ve got one, when did you last get a happy feeling when you looked at it, sat there, staring at you, probably learning your daily routine, preparing for Judgement Day…)

4. The Same Games

This generation has come to a point where if you want to sell you game, it must contain at least 3 of the following 5:

First-person shooter

Iron sights (preferably with red dot)

Online multiplayer running and gunning nOOb slaughtering (preferably with some expensive DLC)

Zombies (preferably with a combo of the above 3)

Marginally different gameplay from last years outing (sports, shooters, platformers etc)

Go on your Xbox 360 or Playstation 3 and check your friends list, most of them are probably playing Call of Duty or Battlefield 3, or maybe some other military shooter that looks no different to the rest of them. You can’t deny this generations games have come to a point where we’re just paying an annual fee to be shovel fed the same shit, well, that is if you pay the fee, you could just not buy into the marketing hype, not buy the game and hope that others join you in your quest for better gaming, forcing the publishers to rethink their “copy & paste” approach to games.

The Playstation 4 and Xbox 720 not only need to be amazing consoles, and I’m sure that they will both be great in their own respects, but they need to show us things that we haven’t seen before. Games that aren’t just graphically brilliant, but instead follow a new line of play, more interactivity and creativity, more respect for consumers and not just bring out the same game every year. Maybe, just maybe, even take some extra time when making games, not just rush out a half-finished hairy turd and hope we don’t notice it stinks. If the Playstation 4 and Xbox 720 just continue to churn out sequel after sequel, why even bother investing in a new console, just keep to what you’ve got, that’s what I’ll be doing should it all turn out to be more of the same…

Well that’s it really, they’re my main concerns with the next generation of consoles and I’m sure a few of you will share the same worries, maybe even add to them, which you are free to do down in the comments below.

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