It’s funny, I’ve been labeled a fanboy of nearly every console brand made. I guess you could say I’m just a fan of console games in general. I usually have no qualms with speaking whats on my mind about something. Recently I’ve been labeled an Xbox/Microsoft fanboy more than anything else. To be perfectly clear I really don’t like Microsoft, I despise most of their products and I’m actually in the process of migrating from XP to Ubuntu (or at least dual booting). I do quite like the Xbox, but that is only because as a gamer the Xbox brand has delivered the goods. The games they make for the console fit my tastes and many of the features are things I’d been begging for ANYONE in the industry to implement for years now.
While I’ve been giving the Xbox brand quite a bit of praise I’ve also given the Playstation brand quite a bit of grief. For the same reasons that the Xbox has moved in directions I’ve been pleased with the Playstation brand has moved in directions that turned me off. At my core I’m a gamer, and I’ll buy ANY console the delivers what I’m looking for regardless of my opinion of the company. I’m also not one to waste my money on promises and future potential. As someone who spends easily thousands each year on my hobby I don’t have money to waste on products that I’ll just be sitting on. I can say with confidence that as much as I despise Sony I despise Microsoft even more but like a good consumer I buy their products anyway… lets hear it for capitalism.
With that said I will, and without hesitation, buy a Playstation 3 the very moment there is something that console offers that will compel me to purchase it. I don’t HATE the Playstation 3 but I will call out the brand on their missteps (as I feel ALL good consumers should) and I do the same for the Xbox and Nintendo brands as well, they just give me a whole lot less to complain about.
So why haven’t I bought a PS3 yet? Well, at the moment there are a few interesting things on the console but it doesn’t actually offer me anything that compels me to buy it, this is compounded by the fact that the price is rather steep for an item that doesn’t actually do anything I’m interested in seeing it do. I have the cash, that’s not a problem, and many of the promised features and games seem interesting but as I said before I wont part with the cash until those promises become a reality, I have better things to spend it on like games. After all isn’t that really what we’re spending all this money to play with?
I started thinking about what Sony would have to offer for me to go to the store and buy a PS3 tomorrow. Granted I wouldn’t do it unless I could take the console home and see the fruits of these things with first hand immediacy, this discredits everything that comes out “soon” or “this holiday” or “next year”. Again, there are games that are out now for other platforms that I want to play NOW so blowing several hundred dollars for a Chia-pet is worthless when I already own a few full grown ferns. Even still I don’t think many of these would be all that difficult for them to do, heck they’d be well served to do all of them. So without further ado here are the 6 reasons (none of which exist at the present) I would buy a PS3.
1. At least 6 must-have exclusive and original titles a year. A “must-have” title is defined by ME. Honestly Games like Motorstorm and Resistance didn’t really interest me and I would define neither of them as “Must-have” I’m talking about games that I see a trailer for and start salivating at the mouth thinking about how cool it would be to play it. Resident Evil does that for me, as does the Devil May Cry series, both are titles that helped fuel the purchase decisions of the Gamecube and PS2 last generation. In terms of recently released games The Darkness really excited me as does the up coming Bioshock and lots of other titles, unfortunately I don’t see anything exclusive on the PS3 radar this year that falls into that category.
These games have to be exclusives because I already own every other console, so if it’s a cross platform title there is really no good reason for me to buy a PS3 since I can already play it on something else I own. Online wise the 360 has a more compelling offering and graphically the differences between the 360 and PS3 are marginal at best so neither one of those would get me to buy the PS3 version over the 360 version anyway.
I say these have to be original titles because with the exception of two or three franchises within the Sony brand their franchisees don’t really interest me. Ratchet and Clank, F1 Racing, Jax and Dexter, etc. just don’t interest me. so really they’d have to branch out into new franchises if they’d want to create titles that I’d define as a must have.
I say 6 of these titles due to the console’s price. I’m not going to spend over half a grand just to play one or two titles. I’d need fresh and exciting gaming experiences at least every other month from the box. If the console’s price was lower I could justify less titles but at $500-$600 it needs to deliver strong and consistently. By comparison the Wii only had three available titles I was interested in, but that’s all it needed considering it’s price tag.
2. An achievement system standardized across all games with required developer support and accessibility over the web. I’m an achievement whore, if you read my articles with any consistancy you’ll know that. Though, my addiction to these things aren’t just some side effect of the Xbox Koolaide. Actually this is the way I’ve played games for the last decade years or so.
In college my friends and I started logging what we called a “dead games list” whenever we started a new game we’d come up with requirements and if you played through and met the requirements you “killed” the game and could add it to the dead games list. Essentially the requirements were always that you explored every last little aspect of the game to the fullest and defeated the game on the highest difficulties possible. A fighting game for instance would require you beat the game on the hardest difficulty with every character, as well as unlocking every character, costume or anything else that could be unlocked. If the game was on the dead games list you could be assured that you mastered the game and saw absolutely every thing there was to see.
When MS came out with achievements it was like they built my dead games list into the console itself. And making those stats accessible over the web through Xbox.com gave it legs. I’m now a member of several communities of like minded gamers. Achievements for me are like a gift, like someone finally understood the way I liked to play games and built this system just for me. I know for a fact I’m not the only person who feels this way and I must say every other console on the planet now feels like LESS of a console because they’re missing this feature. Even if you’re not achievement obsessed there is no denying that it can extend the replay value of a game substantially, which is always a good thing no matter how you look at it.
I’ve been following this development on the PS3 pretty closely from the copycat entitlement system, to the now planned trophy system. Like most things with the PS3 it has potential, but I can’t play with potential. I can’t have fun with it, and it’s not worth anything, let alone $600. The trophy system could be the single greatest thing Sony’s done with the PS3, or or could be lame, under-supported niche feature only used by one or two games. Once again I’ll hold on to my money until it proves itself as worthwhile.
3. A guarantee of level of service audio visual fidelity: all developers MUST support 720p and 4xMSAA, online must integrate with the console’s built in profile system. While it’s true that most PS3 games offer 720p graphics or better. There is really no standard to that effect, as an owner of a PS3 there is no guarantee that every game you buy will support that resolution. While it’s highly likely to be the case in terms of 720p it is definitely NOT the case in other areas. The lack of FSAA in most of the games I’ve played is some kind of cruel joke. Playing Ridge Racer 7 and Virtua Fighter 5 and having my eyeballs cut on the sharp graphical jaggies is so very reminiscent of when I brought home a PS2 and questioned it’s superiority to the Dreamcast for the very same reason. This is the 7th console generation, High Def, surround sound, X million FLOPS, and we can’t be bothered to smooth out the edges of the 3d models. Maybe MS’s requirement that developers use FSAA and 720p does tie the hands of developers. But it’s those same requirements that IMO made the Dreamcast and the Gamecube keep a consistently high level of graphical quality across all of their games.
This consistancy goes beyond graphics into other areas including the online experience and a profile with all of your preferences and stats built in. This all falls under what I was saying earlier about stuff that MS is doing in the console space that I’ve been begging for for years. I actually played the PS2 version of DOA2 instead of the Dreamcast version despite the fact that I like the DC controller more and thought the DC version’s graphics were better. The PS2 version offered a profile system. Rather than having no stat tracking at all when we passed around the controller during our weekly tournaments on the DC I could keep a personal profile and not have it messed up by everyone else I was playing with. That was with one game, I’m spoiled now that I have a password protected profile consistent across all games. Once again this might tie the hands of some developers but I say: screw em, because I like it this way and it seems to be the only real way to get some consistancy in the industry.
4. A $300 or less price tag with HD cables and a headset included. I couldn’t write this article without bring up the price issue. The Sony fanclub likes to draw comparisons about how the Xbox 360 is more expensive once you buy an HD-DVD player and pay for Xbox Live or how the Wii isn’t so cheap once you buy three more Remotes and a golden chalice. The fact of the matter is I DONT WANT those things. I have no intention of ever buying the HD-DVD attachment, and if Sony offered the PS3 without Blu-Ray for even $5 less I would probably buy that version over the one they offer now because as long as this format war rages on I’m not going to fund terrorism on either side.
You know what accessories I DO need though? HD-Cables so I can actually use more than 1/20th of the console’s performance power, as well as a headset so I can pretend that my multiplayer games are actually more than just single player games with a really “creative” AI. Interesting enough those are two accessories that the PS3 just doesn’t come with. yeah I know I can order an HDMI cable online for $10 but you know what I don’t want to go to Best Buy, spend $600 on a PS3 to take it home and buy a Cable online while I wait 6-8 for the cable to arrive before I can really play it. Nor do I want to drop the $70-$100 that Best Buy wants to charge me for the same plastic wrapped copper.
Considering that, and considering that there are a few (very few) games for the console that I’d like to play right now the optimal price would have to be $300 with HD cables and a headset included. This ties in with the earlier comment on the number of games the console needs. Either they need more games to justify the price or they need a lower price to justify the games. As it sits right now, neither the games nor the price justifies a purchase.
5. PS1 and PS2 games rendered in HD with 4xMSAA. I do love quite a few PS1 and PS2 games, but I do also own both of those consoles. Really the BC feature of the PS3 doesn’t do anything for me. Upscaling graphics is a sham, particularly when I own a projector with a Faroudja DCDi that can scale the games from a PS2 much better than the PS3′s software scaler ever will.
What would make the BC experience enjoyable would be if the PS3 were to actually render those old games in a higher resolution and apply 4xMSAA on top of it. I remember when I first got Bleem! on my PC it was amazing to see all my favorite PS1 games rendered (not scaled) at 3 times their normal resolution. Everything was crystal clear, there were no jaggies and it was just fantastic. I became disenfranchised by the PS2′s graphical capabilities long before the HD generation and now that I’ve been playing games in HD for almost 2 years even the PS2 games that I’d love to go back and play become hard to stomach due to the graphics distracting from the core experience. If the PS3′s horsepower was used to render the games natively in HD I would drive to the store right now and buy one simply because it would let me experience all of the great PS2 games I missed by letting me enjoy them with real HD graphics.
6. Toshiba announces that they’re retiring the HD-DVD format and gives the market to Blu-Ray. Fat chance of this happening but truth be told it would make me buy a PS3. As I said earlier, I don’t buy into the whole format war. I’ve got thousands saved waiting to pounce on a format and start building an HD collection. I’ve got nearly 500 DVDs in my collection, mostly special editions and box sets. I’m a collector. And there is no way I’m going to drop so much as a dime if I think there is even a hint of a chance that it will become obsolete before it’s time. There are even movies I love that I’ve avoided buying because I want to buy them once, and in HD.
While I’m not the biggest fan of using my game console for movie playback I think a PS3 wouldn’t be that bad of an HD player, especially considering it’s software updatability. Despite the back and forth between the two camps and the doom an gloom surrounding Blu-Ray’s ever growing market dominance it’s still squabbling over peanuts. Sure Blu-Ray might have sold 10K more copies of movie X last month but it doesn’t change the fact that both of them combined were outsold by millions of the regular DVD version. It’s like proclaiming your product has market dominance because it has 1.2% of the market while your competitor only has .9%. Wake me up when things actually start changing beyond these petty marketing games about how perception is the new reality.
So those are the six things that would get me to buy a PS3. If any of them happen I will buy one, mark my words. If you don’t agree with these things, I don’t really care because these are the things I care about, not you. Though I do think that much of the market does at least have a few things in common with this view point. I also don’t think it would be all too difficult for Sony to make these changes. Some of them I’m sure will eventually happen, but I’m not about to buy the console just to sit around and dream about that day. I’ll be busy playing all the other consoles and I’ll buy a PS3 when it’s ready to be played the way I like to play games.