With the 8th console generation about a year into all consoles being out in the wild, many of us are excited about the future these machines hold for our entertainment. There's a lot going on and a lot that's happened recently, so let's talk about some disappointments that have upsides. Every cloud has a silver lining and I love being optimistic about the state of the industry, so here are some gripes that have some gain in them:
1. The State of Sony's PlayStation Network
Unfortunately, the PlayStation Network has been very disappointing with regard to the PlayStation 4. While we haven't had a massive anonymous shutdown like we did back in the day when it went down for a month, PSN was also free back then. For $50/year, you're pretty much paying for occasional online access and free indies. I wouldn't blame you if you thought you were overpaying for the indies. Now I know some experiences with the network vary, but highly anticipated titles with online-centered focus like Destiny and DriveClub pretty much left you with a fraction of the game to be enjoyed for a time. Things seem to be stabilizing now, but my experience with PSN could have been better on PS4. PS3 and Vita though, those are coming along swimmingly, especially with the sales. Best part? It's free unless you have Plus.
The Silver Lining: Plus works across multiple PlayStation platforms so, even if the PS4's infrastructure will need work, the subscription is still worth it because, well, have you been keeping an eye on the sales happening in the PlayStation store for PS3 and PSVita? Madness! Sony pretty much went Steam Sale all over our asses. I've already spent well over $120 in these past couple of weeks because everything is so cheap. PS4 might need stability network-wise, but the money you pay can very easily be put to great use on the older platforms. I give PSN on PS4 the benefit of the doubt since it's just starting out, but it's only going to get bigger and Sony needs to prepare for it. Of course, this doesn't really appeal to people who only own a PS4, but I guess this is reason to say that you should own a PS3. You really should.
2. DriveClub Disappointing Reviewers
Yes, this game has disappointed. Yes, Evolution and Sony have yet to release the PS+ edition. No, the online capabilities don't seem to be consistent and running continuously. Then again, I don't own the game, but I have witnessed people struggling to take it online. For such a highly anticipated game that was delayed by about a year, you would expect them to do well by consumers with getting the infrastructure up and running day one, no questions. But I've already touched on the online issues. Another big problem seems to be that reviewers just don't seem to like the game. It's done poorly with reviewers, some of which resulted in score reduction from the original score.
The Silver Lining: Although there are disappointments with DriveClub, the community really seems to be enjoying the game otherwise. Sounds to me like there's a bit of a disparity between reviewer and less journalism-empowered gamers. The best news here is that this is but another nail in the reviewer coffin. People should play what they want to play because they want to play it, not hold off on playing a game that looks good to them because someone who isn't you says it isn't good. I relish the idea of reviewers losing that power over gamers, and I hope you all do too. Reviews can do gamers a solid by warning them of glitches, bad networks, imbalances, etc., but scores are perhaps the most damaging aspect of the system which I think does well in detering gamers from giving potential gems a chance. In DriveClub's case, many of the problems can be addressed with an update. Will all reviewers change their scores? Will Metacritic adjust their overall scores to reflect that? Considering Polygon's old score is still on Metacritic, I doubt it. Truth is, it comes down to this: "do you recommend the game or don't you?" No scores, just...yes or no. It's only fair to judge a game by its bugs or lack of content if (a) reviewer updates their reviews following issues being addressed by the developer or (b) the developer simply refuses to update the game. Either way, the reviews are polarizing which is a red flag that gaming media can't seem to agree on what to make of the game, meaning you'll just have to use your own discretion, as it should be for the most part.
3. The Wii U's lackluster sales
Oh, Nintendo. My dear, sweet Nintendo. The Wii U launched first and somehow fell behind the PlayStation 4 and is beating out the XBOX One in total sales marginally, but the XBOX One is steadily gaining on it. Despite the headstart, there are rumblings about Iwata's failure and potential removal from Nintendo. Sad times.
The Silver Lining: Nintendo's games sell well. They also arguably have the best games of the current generation. People will say that's only because games have been lackluster on PlayStation 4 and XBOX One, but guys...c'mon. Mario Kart 8 with some crazy exciting DLC? 8-player Super Smash Bros.? Bayonetta 2 (BAYO-FREAKIN'-NETTA 2)? The other guys would have to do something utterly massive to compete with that. It's all subjective, but I really don't see that happening unless Witcher 3, Bloodborne, MGSV, and Quantum Break came out this year. And even then, that would make next year far less exciting. Even though the console could be doing well, I really hope gamers realize that the Wii U has some solid and highly entertaining titles out now and, in my opinion, deserves the award for best console of 2014.
4. The XBOX One is doing poorly in Japan
This comes as no surprise, but it's realllllllllly not doing well. At all. Granted, the PlayStation 4 and Wii U aren't doing too well either, but they've gotten some distance before the tapering off began. XBOX One has perhaps no chance in Japan. It's tough to say if it's the console market that's suffering or there is just a particular lack of Japanese games right now. Either way, consoles aren't doing very well and I don't think Microsoft coming out with games for Japanese gamers will help that. If Nintendo and Sony get the ball rolling however, we might see some progress, but the XBOX One has no chance. I imagine by the end of the generation, they'll give up on Japan, but that remains to be seen. I could be wrong about all of this and things might turn up, but for now, I don't see it happening.
The Silver Lining: XBOX One did pretty well in China in the beginning. I haven't found any sales details since their 100k milestone, but this is a promising start. At the very least, there's a potentially massive market in China which might be what the industry needs to survive. Good work Microsoft. We'll have to see how Chinese gamers spend their money once Microsoft's competition arrives to see if they lean one way, but at least XBOX has a chance to succeed in the Asian market.
5. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain isn't out yet
It just isn't.
The Silver Lining: But it will be.
Feel free to comment below. As always, thanks for reading!
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