Is Sony Forcing My Hand?
I have not personally owned a PlayStation since the PlayStation 2, and I honestly had it just to play Kingdom Hearts. Once I was done with it, the PS2 became a dust collector. I thought my children would play it, but it just sat there on the entertainment center. Next to it was the console the whole family played, the Xbox. Since the days of the original Microsoft system, my family has been Team Xbox and Nintendo. Not saying anything bad about Sony, but this is just the way it ended up. The kids were mainly Nintendo due to Pokémon on their Game Boys and the DS. I ended up sticking with Xbox for a couple of reasons that I still feel that Sony has not been able to compete with: Xbox Live and Halo.
Many say that without Halo, Xbox would not be around today. The franchise has remained successful even after switching developers from Bungie to 343 Studios. Bungie also remained successful when they became part of Microsoft and then later became independent again. So what really makes Halo so important? I would say that Halo set up the success for first-person shooters on the console. Who knows what the future of FPS games would have been like if they did not master the control scheme? How would future blockbusters such as Call of Duty and Battlefield look like today? I am fairly certain they would have ended up how they are now, but it would have taken more time or another game with similar controls to Halo to make a difference.
Another key element for Halo is the story. There have been few games in the FPS space to have great storytelling like Halo. The key ones that come to mind overall are Half-Life on the PC and the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare series. These three are series that I felt provided me with a strong connection to the story and were very immersive.
The last key element for Halo I would like to bring up is multiplayer. Those who have not been around with the original Xbox and Halo for multiplayer missed out. My wife would arrange for us to have “Halo Parties”. She would invite my friends over and would setup a LAN network, and we would play against each other on our own consoles and TVs. One of my friends would even tote his 27” CRT tv each time. My wife would make sweet tea and have sodas, along with hot wings and nachos. My friends would constantly ask when the next Halo Party was to take place. Those were the days! Now we all play online. This is still a fun experience, but it would be great to play on a LAN from time to time. Fun fact: You can still play Halo on a LAN with the original Xbox, Xbox 360, and Xbox One! Other than Halo, the best multiplayer experience I have enjoyed is Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, until all the hackers/cheaters started ruining the experience.
As for how Xbox Live is better than PlayStation Network? To me, it really comes down to just a few things: matchmaking, security, and home gold. Another feature where Xbox Live used to have an advantage with was Games with Gold that gave you up to four games free each month, though Sony also does this with PlayStation Plus.
The biggest advantage to the matchmaking is that it is required in all the online multiplayer experiences. This gives all the games a level experience that enhances putting players of the same skill level together. Having this as a unified service provides stability in the fact that the system is consistent and that you will not have to deal with inferior matchmaking that will vary from game to game.
For the security aspect, Microsoft did it right from the start by charging for the service, which provided the funding to invest in keeping the service secure. It has also provided the resources to keep the service up. This pales in comparison to Sony’s offering, which was hacked and ended up being down for a long time. To their credit, Sony has since started charging for the service and has improved its security on the PlayStation Plus service.
The last item, home gold, provides many benefits. The main one is that as long as you have access to an Xbox and the internet, you can play your games anywhere, even when using your saved game data. This provides an additional revenue channel for Microsoft as it encourages players to purchase multiple consoles. The best example of this is in my house, we have my Xbox One X in the living room, my wife’s Xbox One in our room. This way, either one of us can play a game in either room, stop playing, and then continue the experience in the other room.
So what brings up getting a PlayStation now, beyond the exclusives that many say give Sony the advantage over Microsoft? Honestly, I feel I would not even want to play most of these exclusives, even if I had the console. However, there are now two titles that have spiked my interest, the first being Insomniac’s Spider-Man, and the second being the remake of Final Fantasy VII. Both of these are titles that I feel are worthy of being console sellers.
The other key feature that brings up getting a PlayStation comes with the controller. I have never liked the layout or the feel of the PlayStation controller. It has always felt uncomfortable and not ergonomic. The other annoying feature is that the battery is not removable, which puts a limited life on the controller. With the Xbox controller, I have the option of using standard AA batteries or going with a rechargeable pack that can still be charged out of the controller. Since seeing videos of Spider-Man, I have thought if only there was a PlayStation controller with a similar layout to the Xbox controller. Sure, I could simply use an adapter, but I don’t want to deal with the hassle or extra expense. I have found one controller that fits this need. With these few changes and the upcoming release of one of my all-time favorite games in a remade form, it is looking like Sony is pushing me to go to the store.
Who knows what the future will hold for me? Maybe Sony will take heed and listen to the gamers by making the system more approachable as far as what has been discussed here. Also, the biggest item that would add to this would be cross-platform play for all games. Sony has been really resistant to this from the beginning, while Nintendo and Microsoft have been very receptive to it. It is also a shame that Sony has taken the stance they have with it, which has caused developers to call them out on it. Several games are ready for cross-platform play, but Sony will not allow it. Simply having options like this only benefits the gamers.