The PS4 got announced in case you happened to have forgot that a Net full of Inter is out there, avoided all television, and talked to no other people. And you in no way will be startled that yours truly is going to keep with my continuing obsession about analyzing game news and its career implication and analyze the crap out of this.
So gear up people, here it comes. The PS4 is coming, and here’s what I think.
ITS A GAMING SYSTEM
It’s very much a hardcore gamer system. It’s not a media system, it’s a game system. Sony, at least, has a target market which they’re aiming for. This is a good variant from their throw-it-at-the-wall strategy of the last few years, and can be embodied in this quote:
However even if Sony is focusing on the gamer, it doesn’t mean they’re doing it right, as Darrell Etherington put it well. I also have to concur – Sony is throwing out big game demos, all shooty and action, showing off technology, and talking features they think will appeal to gamers. Also Diablo III . . . well, yeah, whatever.
But I think they’re only trying to appeal to a sub sector of hardcore gamers, and it seems like they’re trying to appeal to an image in their head, not real people.
- Sony is going hardcore on gaming, and those supporting it will probably be the larger studios with larger initiatives. You may find employment there.
- No, I don’t feel their focus is done right so I am awaiting backfire. But you might be able to take advantage of it until it does.
STREAMING AND CONNECTIVITY PLENTY
- Jumping in a game that “caught your eye” sounds unlikely, and games would have to be set up properly for that. Also I see the usual bandwidth issues.
- Sharing games? Interesting, but I don’t think people are that big on spectating or as it was put so well at Penny Arcade, watching me spend 20 minutes dressing my avatar. This again drags in bandwidth and developing issues.
- Second screen/Vita interfaces actually fit recent trends of streaming/connectivity/seeing what Nintendo does. That’s pretty smart and easy. It also suggests the Vita is evolving to really be a seamless part of the ecosystem.
- The social elements and interest-ranking all sound pretty standard.
- I did like seeing constant mention of support for the developers, who weren’t thrilled with the challenges of developing on the PS3.
I can’t say overall that a lot of the connectivity/streaming stuff wowed me. It sounded standard or gratuitous, with a few bits of real insight and interest.
- A less obvious but important implication is social connectivity is pretty obviously big and is expected as an option in gaming and gaming devices. It’s the norm, this just is another confirmation of that. As a game developer know that.
- Sony’s movement to integrated devices is also a norm, but can be promising as they do a lot of electronics, and might hint at some future strategies period (considering they need all the help they can get).
- Sony wants to support the developers more – they learned that lesson. It may not be much, but it’s something and may mean your development career is a bit easier. Hopefully.
ITS ALL MULTI DEVICE
It’s not just the Vita. Sony wants apps on iPhone and Android, and even to let you purchase games remotely through other devices.
As noted above, yes, this is an obvious surrender to, well, the obvious. But it’s an acknowledgement, it points to recognition of the issue, and Sony is wisely integrating across other devices. It’s not perfect, but it is something and again, maybe they can leverage their own past to their advantages.
I am concerned that with Sony’s past traits of throw-it-at-the-wall this could go, well, insane, but as they’re trying to focus, I’m not quite as concerned. Much.
- Multi-device is the norm, so get used to it as noted.
- I think Sony might be able to leverage this strategy in their somewhat off-focused attempts to appeal to gamers, but I’m not sure it’s going to have a big impact – of course if you work at Sony and can make it have big impact . . .
- The experimentation with non-Sony devices is telling (Much like Nintendo’s Mii universe experiment). Sony is acknowledging the other-device mobile spaces. This might lead to further experimentation that could benefit them – or give an idea of what they can do if the PS4 bombs.
Well what we know is:
- It won’t block used games.
- It won’t be backward compatible. (Which to me sounds like a blatant opportunity to sell you the same game again)
- PSN games won’t transfer over. See previous comment.
This honestly feels kind of boneheaded except for the not-blocking used games which should be obvious. Basically past spent money is lost, which feels like a big “screw you” and helps show Sony doesn’t necessarily get their target “gaming” crowd.
Some of this could be reversed, but it doesn’t bode well.
- You might have to port that game you sold. Again. Or help someone port things.
- No, this is not developer friendly, which casts suspicion on how much they care.
- This confronts the issue of paying and loosing money on download systems. This was coming, Sony just moved the confrontation forward – how people react and how others deal with that will affect your career. For instance, the buy-at-Steam-play-forever model is kinda more tempting now.
First of all, as you can guess, I’m not impressed. This was a rather disappointing announcement, with the crowning non-achievement being not seeing the device and not knowing the prices. It’s Sony focusing on what’s in their heads not what’s out there, though some real innovation and opportunities peek through.
Some of the announcements acknowledge obvious trends:
- The need for a market focus.
- Device integration.
- Cross-platform integration.
- The need for developer support.
However there’s nothing here radical, groundbreaking, earthshaking, or amazing. At the same time the confirmation of these elements doesn’t exactly spell out how well they’ll work with Sony’s plans. Sony may confirm some things, but they’re not doing anything new.
Career-wise, my biggest concern for your career is that Sony is going to blow this and gaming will get a nasty shake-up. Not that it hasn’t already, but still.
Not impressed. But there are lessons learned, and that’s something you, my progeek, can get out of this.
Steven Savage is a Geek 2.0 writer, speaker, blogger, and job coach. He blogs on careers at http://www.fantopro.com/, nerd and geek culture at http://www.nerdcaliber.com/, and does a site of creative tools at http://www.seventhsanctum.com/. He can be reached at https://www.stevensavage.com/.