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Why I’m Not Buying a PlayStation 4

View Nelson Schneider's Profile

By Nelson Schneider - 11/24/13 at 03:41 PM CT

It’s official: All of the 8th Generation consoles are in the wild and ready for purchase by legions of feverish fanboys. While the Xbox One (henceforth referred to only as XBONE) has been received with little fanfare and much hostility (finally bringing the general gaming public’s opinion toward Microsoft’s gaming division in line with my own), the PlayStation 4 is seemingly being hailed as some sort of gaming messiah. Yet I have absolutely zero interest in Sony’s latest gaming machine.

Unlike other gaming media outlets, MeltedJoystick doesn’t take bribes in exchange for positive reviews. We purchase games and hardware with our own funds and review them on our own time. We may never produce reviews days or weeks ahead of a product’s release, but when we do produce a review, you can be guaranteed that the reviewer actually wanted to experience the product in question (which makes negative reviews all the more condemning). Of course, my lack of interest in the PS4 and XBONE has little to do with funding: I could easily purchase both without batting an eye at the economic consequences. Instead, my apathy toward the PlayStation 4 is what it is at face value: I don’t care about a single one of the PS4’s unique features.

When I look at the PS4’s launch library, I see a tiny number of exclusives alongside a huge number of games that DON’T REQUIRE A NEW CONSOLE! After reading a review of the one PS4 exclusive that mildly piqued my interest, I have lost all interest in the PS4’s games. Sony’s overreliance on third-parties has created a truly awkward transition into the 8th Generation, with most of the big-name multi-platform releases available on Sony’s and Microsoft’s 7th Generation hardware as well. Maybe the graphics will look a tiny bit better on the PS4… but since I’ve been buying all of my multi-platform games off Steam for almost two years, I don’t think the PS4 has anything to offer me from a purely graphical perspective (and I’m not even a graphics whore anyway, which renders this feature even less relevant). And speaking of Steam: It lets me chat with my friends and play co-op games with them online for free – no longer features of PSN, which now requires a PlayStation Plus membership to do similar things.

Putting exclusive games and online play aside, what is the PS4 besides a rectangular slab of plastic filled with circuit boards? It offers zero backward compatibility – not even for the lightweight digital games distributed exclusively via PSN, nor for PS1/PS2 Classics via emulation. The Gaikai streaming service promises to add backward compatibility sometime in the future, but I know for a fact that it will be ready to use before my Internet connection is fast enough to do… well, anything. Furthermore, streaming things from the cloud lies exclusively within the domain of subscription services that the user doesn’t own or control. In other words: Gaikai will only be as valuable as Onlive.

What else can the PS4 do? Well, I could share video of myself playing (non-existent) PS4 games via my (non-existent) Facebook account. Of course, doing that would also require a beefy Internet connection with a fat upload pipe (something that even good cable connections frequently neglect to provide). As a kid, I would have loved the ability to record gameplay videos from within the console itself – I would have recorded the ending sequence of every game I managed to finish. As an adult, recording gameplay videos might make it easier to fill the MeltedJoystick Youtube account with video reviews. Of course, in order to make a video review, there would need to be a PS4 game that I would want to play.

Essentially, the 8th Generation has turned me ‘once bitten, twice shy.’ I was expecting the WiiU to be a solid successor to the original Wii, yet it has so far failed to live up to its predecessor’s greatness. I was expecting the OUYA to bring a conduit to infinite Indie goodness and desirable Android exclusives into the living room, yet it feels more like Desura than Steam Greenlight, and is cut-off from the Google Play store. I had great expectations for these two consoles, and they failed to meet them. With the PlayStation 4 and XBONE I have no great expectations. While my hatred of Microsoft’s gaming division is well known, I have been a supporter of Sony since they propped up the entire gaming industry in the wake of the N64. I also have a pragmatic view of Sony’s hardware, since they always follow an easily identifiable pattern: Sony consoles are never worth buying at launch. It usually takes a year or two before Sony hardware gathers enough momentum and interesting exclusives to make a purchase worthwhile. Yet the PlayStation 3 never really managed to do that for me. Whereas the Wii was an excellent console and I expected its successor to be equally excellent, the PS3 was a huge disappointment, which naturally leads to the expectation that the PS4 will follow suit.

Who knows what the future will bring to Sony’s new baby? Perhaps the PS4 will reverse the PS3’s misfortunes and bring in a plethora of unique exclusives. Perhaps Sony will throw its weight around in its homeland, thus encouraging Japanese developers to produce high-quality creative games again instead of loli-moe-pandering trash. Maybe the RPGs will come back. All of these things could happen with the PS4… but I’m not holding my breath. It seems more likely that the PS4 and XBONE will relive the events of the 7th Generation – sharing 90% of their games, little genre representation outside of FPSes, and an overemphasis on mainstream “AAA” games. Even if Sony does deviate from history and seduces a bunch of Indie developers, why would anyone buy those games for $15 on the locked-down PSN when they will all be available for far less money on the far-less-locked-down Steam? These types of games don’t even need a ‘gaming’ PC, let alone a high-powered 8th Generation console.

The bottom line is that, while Nintendo needed a hardware refresh to get in line with modern HD standards, Sony (and Microsoft) isn’t really bringing anything new to the table with its updated hardware. The PS4 is a solution looking for a problem. But its biggest problem – one shared by every other 8th Generation gaming device – is a lack of games.

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Chris

Wrote on11/30/13 at 11:42 PM CT

If Sony comes out with a decent exclusive I might think about picking one up - but I am also content with easily waiting a year (or two - or more) before I even consider the possibility. As it stands now, pretty much every game I am looking forward to is going to be released on PS3 (or Steam) so why bother at this point? Especially considering all the hardware issues being reported - people who get any kind of new device day one are just asking for trouble. And, yes, I agree the lack of any truly standout games is a huge factor - for both systems as far as I'm concerned (not that I'm ever going to get an XBONE).

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Jonzor

Wrote on11/24/13 at 05:29 PM CT

I imagine I'll get a PS4 at some point, but I'm more than willing to wait until a good deal or bundle from Amazon or Target comes out in the next 18 months. Also, the only game I know for sure I'm interested in from either new console is Titanfall... and I can get that on PC. So I'm happy to wait.

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