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Games Inbox: The legacy of the PS4 console

The Friday letters page worries about a games drought that lasts all of 2023, as one reader wants to play more games like Limbo.

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Classic console
So, Sony is finally getting ready to retire the PlayStation 4, eh? I don’t have a problem with that. The pandemic has lengthened its software support past what it would have got normally and it can retire knowing that it was super successful and has a great collection of games.

Working out its true legacy will take a bit of hindsight but for me it is a true classic console and one of the best. I think for that to be true it has to hit a few different criteria. For a start, it has to be popular and have a good range of games, and I think the PlayStation 4 pretty obviously does that.

But I feel it also has to have an influence on the industry as a whole and on the company that made it. I think that’s true too. PlayStation 4 was the moment that Sony came of age in terms of its first party games – just look at the line-up for the PlayStation 3, it’s much worse.

The games were so successful they forced Microsoft to change direction and accept that first party games were one of the main selling points for a console. It’s not too much of a stretch to say that the PlayStation 4 directly influenced Microsoft into opening their war chest to buy Bethesda, Activision Blizzard, and the rest.

Things will never be the same after the PlayStation 4, but whether they’ll be better or worse remains to be seen…
Xane

The future of consoles
So the PC is getting its first PlayStation 5 game, eh? Had to happen sooner or later and I’m not surprised it’s Returnal. The next step is for games to be released on PlayStation 5 and PC on the same day and I’m sure that isn’t too far away – I’d predict it’ll certainly happen before the end of the generation.

It still doesn’t make much sense to me but if Sony feel they’ll make more money that way then I’m sure I wouldn’t be able to tell them they’re wrong. It already starts to make the idea of first party games seem less special though. It’ll be a shame to think that kinds in the future probably won’t even know what a console is.
Gordo

Unlimited powah
I really hope the rumours about the PS5 Pro are not true. It’s so unnecessary and pushing 8K as some kind of feature, when it adds absolutely nothing to a game even if you did have the TV to run is such a waste of… everything. Like you’d need specialist equipment to even be able to spot the difference it makes, unless your TV is the size of a house and you’re sitting across the road from it.

I’d say it doesn’t seem likely because of the global chip shortage but I’m not sure common sense is much of a tool for predicting what games companies do. We’ve already got to the point where most games are 60fps and screen tearing and other performance issues are only a thing in badly made games.

We don’t need more power and it’s beginning to get like the phone industry where there’s clearly no need to upgrade but the companies just want to make it seem like a routine you have to go through, despite them not having a major new idea or feature for years.
Iceman

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Gift horse
Nice to see Sony putting so much effort into the PlayStation VR2, with that promise of all the games. I don’t know why they’re doing it, given the relatively little profit they’d be making, but I’m glad they are. As limited as it was I love the original headset and consider Astro Bot: Rescue Mission to be one of the best game experiences. As a game it might have issues but playing through it is mind-blowing in exactly the same way Super Mario 64 was all those years ago.

I’m very excited to learn what all the new games are and I can tell you that expensive or not I will definitely be getting the headset. If they announce Astro Bot 2 I’d pre-order it without any further questions.
Heel of Hope

Games or movies
To be honest, I think making a TV show out of Horizon and God Of War is even weirder than Gran Turismo. I mean they’re all odd, don’t get me wrong, especially Twisted Metal, but how on earth is Horizon going to work on a TV budget. Even Marvel and Star Wars shows don’t have that much CGI on screen all the time, which makes me think that the Horizon show is going to focus a lot more on the boring bits of the games (the talking) and much less on the good bits (the amazing scenery and robots).

I mean, I don’t know, obviously, but I hope we’ve not already got to that point in the generation where Sony starts trying to do everything but knuckle down and make games. It happens almost every gen, usually just past the halfway point, and while it’s easily to ignore thinks like EyeToy and PlayStation Move that’s money they’re not spending on games. I know I’d rather just have a new Horizon game rather than a TV show about it.
Suede

Real games
I find it kind of hilarious that Sony didn’t meaning cloud gaming or the MetaVersus at all in any of those slides from their briefing, until the very end – where suddenly they’re described as the future of the PlayStation business. This made me think of previous comments from GC about how companies only do that sort of thing to please investors because it’s the buzzword of the moment.

I’d love to know what investors think the Metaverse but I’d be willing to bet they neither know or care, it’s just a word they expect every games company to use and if they don’t an alarm bell goes off. That’s big business for you!

I looked at all the slides and it was a real mix of good and bad for gamers. A lot of time was spent talking about spin-off merchandise and other moneymakers and far too much on live service games, which I imagine is the last thing most fans of Sony’s current games wants to hear.

The good news though was the focus on IP. A lot of that will probably come from the new live service games, which isn’t great, but surely some of it will be for real games too. I always like to see new franchises and am glad Sony don’t seem to be wasting their time on Days Gone 2 or rebooting Resistance or something.
Lazlo

Limbo-esque
I quite like games like Inside, Limbo, Little Nightmares 1 & 2 and games similar to this, but they don’t have to have the horror element to it. Can GameCentral or readers recommend any other games like this?

I know of Somerville coming and have played Black The Fall, Stela, and A Juggler’s Tale.
Andrew J.

GC: It depends what elements of the games you like the most, but Nihilumbra, Hue, and SWERY’s The Missing: J.J. Macfield And The Island Of Memories are all fun platform puzzlers.

The great drought
I’d like to think Sony is getting ready for a surprise summer launch for God Of War Ragnarök, but I think Occam’s Razor suggests it’s just going to be early autumn instead. I’d still expect it to be the big game for Christmas but I would imagine at least one of these secret live service games will be out this year. Beyond that I’d be surprised if Sony had anything new out this year. Microsoft, I would imagine, are in a similar situation.

In other words, it’s going to be another slow Christmas, with few big name games. My question is what is going to happen next year. This spring was so good because we had so many games being delayed from Christmas, but this time there doesn’t seem to be anything to delay, except Starfield (which I doubt will be spring anyway).

The question is will we see things pick up after that? Will the second half of 2023 be relatively normal, with lots of big games? If not, we could have a games drought that lasts a year and a half or more!
Danson

Inbox also-rans
If MultiVersus really wants to be a Smash Bros. rival the devs need to continually ignore fan demands for Dick Dastardly and instead add about a dozen slightly different sword fighters from Game of Thrones.
TGN Professor

GC: Heh.

RE: Usul. I don’t have a Playdate console. Wish I did though, could have made a tidy profit. Instead, I have been buying 8K TVs and PlayStation 5s and then forgetting about them, as I am not interested in gaming, as they are too immature.
Alek Kazam

This week’s Hot Topic
The subject for this weekend’s Inbox was suggested by reader Onibee, who asks what game do you wish went on forever?

With many publishers convinced that live service games like Fortnite and Apex Legends are the future of the industry, which existing games do you wish still got regular releases of new DLC? If it’s an action game how would new content keep it fresh and if it’s more story-based how exactly would you like it to work?

Do you like the idea of a game having no official end or do you prefer it to be finite? If it’s the latter, why is that and what do you feel is the ideal length for a game?

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The small print
New Inbox updates appear every weekday morning, with special Hot Topic Inboxes at the weekend. Readers’ letters are used on merit and may be edited for length and content.

You can also submit your own 500 to 600-word Reader’s Feature at any time via email or our Submit Stuff page, which if used will be shown in the next available weekend slot.

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