July, 2016 - As the smartly attired Sony executives sit around the table all captivated by the large screen before them,
aghast at the scenario unfurling, as Microsoft throw in the towel
on this generation, declaring a successor console to their Xbox One
failure. Many mutter and shake their head in disbelief, one though speaks above the rest ďwe can go even dumberÖĒ he exclaims - the rest
of the group nod their head in approval.
Itís hard to imagine as I was watching this latest conference - if you could call it that - the so-called
PlayStation Meeting. Was this really the same team who launched the PlayStation 4? The same minds who
observed the gaming environment so perfectly - and delivered upon it - bringing Sony out of a year after year slump, and turning
the company around into a profitable business. Maybe it really was all luck.
For well over a decade now, the fundamental gaming experience has seen little to no change, with increases of power merely expanding
upon - making prettier and faster - what is already established within our hands. With manufacturers, developers and publishers alike
consistently advocating to gamers the necessity of even greater power, as they produce games that - with lessened visual fidelity and
performance - could all still work on 10 year old hardware. The zeniths of black and white to colour, of arcade machines to home consoles,
of sprites to polygons, of 2D platformers into rich 3D open-worlds, each of them expanding the medium, pushing the envelope of what is
possible within this interactive medium, and now sorely forgotten.
Today, looking at the gaming landscape they seem like a mere fairy tale, where is our next zenith I ask? 4K resolution? Higher frames
per second? All merely touting what has come before, not pushing the envelope, not truly expanding the gaming medium. Modern gaming is
seemingly chasing the ethereal dragon into a void, like a carrot on a stick with money at the wheel, as it barrels towards a cliff edge.
What is the end goal of a never ending power race if it doesnít improve the gaming experience in any meaningful way? This isnít drag-racing,
where the more powerful vehicle is the measurably better vehicle. Visuals are merely the vessel in which a game encapsulates its
interactivity onto the player, like the sign above a shop, they arenít the point of the shop, we shouldnít be in a quest to keep improving
and making ever increasingly elaborate shop signs, we should be delving and improving upon what the shop is actually doing.
So here we sit, as disinterested Sony execs looking they are one step away from the noose, mutter their way through a presentation on
stage about a product - the PlayStation 4 Pro
- that even they are clearly are not sold on, but they know you should buy it. What does it do? Pretty much exactly the same thing as the
one you already own. Why are they bringing this thing out? Well I could say a niche consumer base consisting of 4K TV owners has demonstrated an
eagerness for a games console to compliment their purchases, but we all know that's a load of bollocks, the real reason is money. Itís always money.
The sad part and loser in all of this is the upcoming PlayStation VR,
whilst unlikely, it's the one thing on the horizon with the potential to actually add to the medium, a reason to invest in so-called Ďnext-gení, with the
potential to become one of those aforementioned zeniths, it is now assumedly dead on arrival - we hardly knew you buddy.
All releasing within roughly a month of one another, the
is sandwiched between the release of the PlayStation 4 Slim -
a smaller version of the thing you already own - and the PlayStation 4 Pro -
a bigger version of the thing you own, that also warrants a 4K (HDR enabled) television purchase - each of them costing upwards of £300.
Itís readily apparent that Sony skipped out on marketing class, cannibalising themselves and giving people multiple reasons
not to buy their untested, unproven, experimental productís in favour of the stalwart, the thing they are known for, a console that the
consumer base surely know what they are getting into - and itís clear which consumers are going to use their money on.
But honestly am I surprised? Not in the slightest. This is Sony weíre talking about after all, when the
PlayStation 4 originally launched back in 2013, it was flying off of store shelves, quickly amassing sales even surpassing
the PlayStation 2 at its equivalent time and clearly the gamers primary choice of console. When Sony executives weíre asked, why
they think this was, what smart strategy had they implemented or learnt from to cause their latest console to be so sought after by consumers.
They were puzzled, they didnít know, they had no idea.
So if thereís one thing that's clear from this latest PlayStation Meeting, itís that Sony didnít have a
fucking clue then, and they donít have a fucking clue now.