The Agony and Ecstasy of PlayStation Trophy Hunting – Inverse

The agony and ecstasy of PlayStation trophy hunting: “It’s a huge drop of serotonin” by Joseph Yaden for Inverse

The gratification that comes with improving one’s skills is equally important. For podcaster Max Roberts and avid gaming completionist Niki (who did not wish to share her last name), trophy hunting is about mastering something that once felt impossible.

“Good trophies feel just out of reach, but obtainable with good practice,” says Roberts. “When I truly love a game, it becomes more enticing to chase the Platinum to keep the experience going.”

Look Ma! I made it on Inverse!

Joseph sent out a call on Twitter for folks that enjoy hunting down trophies on PlayStation. It sounded like a fun article, so I reached out. I shared about trophy design and the pain of being one task away from the Plat in Hades. It still hurts to talk about. Stupid Achilles. 

“Trophies have tainted Hades for me,” Roberts says. “I have all but two trophies tied to the same event: Achilles’ Chthonic Companion. After 50 hours and no progression in that storyline, I had to give up.”

I realized after Joseph published that I totally should have shared my Hotline Miami platinum story. I lost my save data while trying to earn an A+ rating on the chapters. I only had three trophies to go. Eight months later I picked my Vita back up and replayed the entire game – essentially earning all of the trophies twice – to finally earn the platinum. It’s definitely one in my personal Platinum Hall of Fame.

Someday I’ll earn the Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number platinum.

Responding to the Pricing of The Last of Us Part I

The Last of Us Part 1 Feels Like a Blatant Money Grab by Sony by Logan Moore for Comicbook.com

My pal Logan Moore wrote up an opinion piece on The Last of Us Part I and its pricing. I thought it’d be fun to respond bit by bit. We’d normally discuss this on a podcast, but given I’m out of town, this asynchronous blog response feels like an in-depth way to keep our usual conversation alive. (Although we have already discussed this yesterday after the reveal).

It’s hard not to feel like Sony‘s upcoming PlayStation 5and PC remake of The Last of Us, which is formally being titled The Last of Us Part 1, is being created for any reason other than to bring in easy money. Perhaps that’s a stupid thing to say given that the entire point of video game development in the first place is for companies to generate profits, but this latest re-release of The Last of Us feels different. Not only is the game not going to contain everything that was seen in the past two versions that were released on PS3 and PS4, but Sony is also asking for a considerable more amount of money to boot.

A considerable amount of more money is $10-20? When The Last of Us launched on PS3 it was $60 and the PS4 remaster started at $60 before being dropped to $50. Monetarily, launching at full price is in line with new releases for Sony.

The question lies in is the narrative and gameplay experience of The Last of Us worth full price in 2022? Anyone could go to a local shop and snag the PS3 game for $10. Millions snagged the PS4 game when it was included with PS+ in October 2019.

I do find it strangely interesting to think about the quality proposition and accessibility. The Last of Us is one of the greatest games of all time and is quite accessible. Compare that to other all timers, like Ocarina of Time. Playing Zelda’s first 3D outing today requires an expensive cartridge, plus the hardware to play, a remake on 3DS, or an $80 a year subscription. In contrast, The Last of Us is playable on three generations of PlayStation hardware and is coming up on nine years since release. Does a younger age and more accessible title make paying new prices undesirable? People will always complain about full prices – look at Skyward Sword HD – but I do enjoy pondering the dynamics of timing and access.

What is surprising, though, is that Part 1 doesn’t even contain everything seen in The Last of Us Remastered. That version of the game, which came out in 2014 on PS4 (for a cheaper-than-normal retail price of $49.99) contained the base game, Factions multiplayer, and the Left Behind DLC. The Last of Us Part 1 is going to contain all of the same single-player content, but Factions is now being left out entirely, likely because a new Naughty Dog multiplayer game in this vein is already on the way.

I agree wholeheartedly that this new Factions game is why there is no Factions in Part I. No multiplayer was included in either Uncharted collection. Is that right? I’m not sure. Those modes are still available on PS4 until those servers get shut down someday, just like the PS3 servers. How many people are clamoring for Uncharted multiplayer?

The unique position of having both the single player and multiplayer in development hasn’t been pulled off by Naughty Dog before. Their multi-team development goal has finally come true it seems. Taking resources away to refresh the original version of Factions with what sounds to be a full-blown sequel to that mode seems wasteful. If this multiplayer game wasn’t a real deal, then its absence in Part I would be significant to me. Knowing a newer (and hopefully better) version—that is its own game—makes that okay to me. Perhaps I’m too easy going or an apologetic fan, but I think this absence is paving the way for a bigger, bolder, better game.

The other reason that this release from Sony feels bizarre is because no one has really been asking for the publisher to remake The Last of Us whatsoever. Despite coming up on the tenth anniversary of its first release, The Last of Us Remastered on PS4 is still a more-than-adequate way to experience and play the original game. The graphical work that has been done in Part 1 seems impressive on Naughty Dog’s part based on what has been shown so far, but this also isn’t a game that seemingly needs to exist right now.

It could be argued that Sony is really only aiming for new players to pick up The Last of Us Part 1, especially since the HBO TV series based on the game is set to release early next year and will by proxy expose new people to the property. And while that would be a feasible conclusion to jump to, PlayStation itself isn’t even marketing the game in this manner. The tagline for The Last of Us Part 1 on PlayStation’s own website is encouraging people to, “Relive the beloved game that started it all – for the PlayStation 5 console.” Sony is merely looking to tap into the audience that has already played The Last of Us because it knows that these same customers will just look to buy it once again. After all, why spend five or more years creating an entirely new game that may not sell well when you can spend a fraction of that development time to re-release an old title that will surely bring in revenue.

I love Logan, but this is a shallow perception of the remake’s existence. While tapping into the existing fanbase is assuredly an angle, new fans and a much wider market are the true goal Sony is chasing. The HBO show is a clear promotional opportunity, which Logan rightly mentions. I suspect sales from both games will get that HBO bump.

The Last of Us as a franchise has sold 28-30 million copies within the last nine years. I feel confident in saying it is PlayStation’s most successful new IP, especially given a series quantity to sales ratio. Before that, the answer would likely be Uncharted.

Now God of War for example, had sold 51 million copies by 2020. With the PC port of God of War (2018), that has likely exceeded 53 million. It took Kratos 17 years to reach that over eight games. The Last of Us has reached over half those numbers in half the time with just two games. The opportunity for growth is substantial.

Sony projects PS5 to surpass PS4, while also anticipating massive growth in PC ports. With Part I coming to both PS5 and PC, the market the company is tapping into far surpasses the fans of the original. It can be hard to think that there are millions that haven’t played The Last of Us, especially when it’s been a part of the conversation ever since it arrived. In some ways, this just feels like a quick stop on the way up even higher.

For the past couple of years, Sony has been making a number of moves associated with PlayStation that show the company is more focused on profits above all else at the moment. Bend Studio’s inability to get Days Gone 2 greenlit, despite the first game selling rather well, is one example of this that we’ve heard about in the past year. The shuttering of Japan Studio last April is another notable occurrence. Despite creating or assisting with the development on a number of beloved games, Sony seemingly decided to do away with Japan Studio just because it wasn’t a division of the company that ever made a ton of money with its releases.

I agree with Logan here. A lot of decisions – by Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo – feel safer than ever before. All these mergers and acquisitions have a feeling of staying ahead and/or alive. If it doesn’t bring in millions, move on to the next thing that will. I’m reminded of a statement I hear Colin Moriarty tout. I don’t have the exact quote, but it follows the line of an opportunity taken means closing the door on others. An example would be Insomniac making a Wolverine game means they are not making some new Resistance game or new IP. Companies are becoming more risk adverse it seems as gaming continues to be the largest grossing entertainment industry in the world.

But with Naughty Dog, Sony is sort of having their cake and eating it to. There’s this remake of one of their most successful games. Then a massive sounding multiplayer game based off that same IP in 2023, which undoubtedly will have microtransactions and/or battle passes. And finally, the team also has a brand new project – presumably a new IP – in development.

Now, is risking all this development on Naughty Dog that big of a risk? No. They are one of, if not the, best developer Sony owns. This is safe-ish. But why spend millions at Bend making Days Gone 2 when Naughty Dog could use some of those millions? Or let Bend make a new IP multiplayer game, which is happening. It’s interesting to see what risks are being taken and what are not.

This $70 price tag on The Last of Us Part 1 also resembles the “controversy” that PlayStation found itself in last year with the upgrade path for Horizon Forbidden West. While it previously seemed apparent that people who bought the PS4 iteration of Forbidden West would later be able to freely upgrade to the PS5 version, Sony instead tried to squeeze a bit more money out of this group and revealed that they would need to pay a small fee to get the next-gen iteration later if they wanted to. After widespread fan outcry Sony ended up reversing course on this decision, but the fact this was even a problem in the first place highlights how PlayStation is operating at the moment.

Xbox has made this cross-gen leap so simple. It’s consumer friendly and inviting. Sony really borked the Horizon and GT7 upgrades when initially announced. At least now there is a clear “you will pay from here on out” line in the sand. Personally, I’m happy to pay the little extra because people work hard to make these games. I can spend ten more bucks. I get that I also have a financial privilege to be so hand wavy about it.

I know this isn’t what Logan is saying here, but I did see some tweets implying that Part I should be a free upgrade. That’s just plain stupid. Clearly this remake is brand new development and will share little with the original game in terms of production. People worked hard on this and deserve to be paid for said work. Now, consumers should vote with their wallet to communicate what price they think this game is worth. It’ll be on sale by the holidays and be discounted beyond that. It’ll hit $50, heck maybe even $40 within its first year on shelves. It’d be nice if Sony had a more competitive price up front, but they don’t. I’m a terrible example anyway: I’m buying the $100 edition. Maybe Logan will be too…

Everything that I have said here is perhaps hypocritical considering that I’m one of those customers that will absolutely be looking to play The Last of Us Part 1 for myself when it hits PS5 in the coming months…

But let’s look at Logan’s final statement.

Still, I can’t help but feel like this is yet another instance where PlayStation is becoming more of a faceless corporate entity that is looking to drive revenue in any way possible rather than trying to meaningfully engage with its audience and listen to what they want. Time will only tell if this proves to be damaging to the company’s reputation, but in an age where Sony quite literally can’t keep up with demand for the PS5, I have a feeling that those operating at a corporate level within Sony are feeling more than happy about where PlayStation is heading.

This, to me, feels like getting old. As I get older, I feel like the wonder and magic is largely gone from the game industry. It can crop up, but the stretches of excitement and hype grow further apart. Corporate ambitions are more clear where charm vanishes. Nintendo consoles used to have catchy tunes and quirky details. Xbox championed voice control in games. PlayStation would throw its own fan event. Now that all has vanished for subscriptions, TV shows, and strategic marketing. The chill of calculation has crept in where the warmth of youthful anticipation used to be. It can be biting.

The days of summer vacation and playing The Last of Us are far behind me. Now I just wait to find time to play a reimagined version of one of my favorites. Perhaps I’m too much of a fan or settled in my preferences. God knows I love a Naughty Dog game. I find discussions surrounding remakes, the market, and development fascinating. Now it’s come for one of my favorites. I’m just happy to have these options at all. Let’s see what Naughty Dog reveals about this remake in the coming months before writing it off entirely.

The Last of Us Part I Announced

Looks like round 10 will have a shiny new coat of paint.

We’ve implemented modernized gameplay, improved controls, and expanded accessibility options in this single-player experience to allow even more individuals to enjoy the game. Effects, exploration, and combat have all been enhanced. Leveraging the PS5’s powerful hardware, we also implemented 3D Audio*, haptics, and adaptive triggers. Both returning fans and new players alike will have the opportunity to experience both The Last of Us Part I and its prequel story Left Behind in a whole new way.

The Last of Us Part I appears to be bringing parity to the duology; on par visual fidelity and gameplay.

I’m impressed with the leap in graphical quality. Neil Druckmann said on the stream that the animators went back to the original mocap footage and referenced Troy and Ashley’s performances. Neat to see the original recordings can still be used. Reminds me of the clip in the Grounded documentary showing off the hand animation process.

Sure the character models are striking, but look at the background. The furniture and environment detail is far more realistic. The camera shot itself has a more cinematic feel. These changes speak to the power gap between the PS3 and the PS5. I wonder when we will think the PS5 version looks old.

The trailer gives off that cinematic feel. It’s one of those strange moments when the remake looks and feels like I remember, but looking back at the launch trailer on PS3 you see how far technology has come. From 720p and an unstable 30fps to 4K 30 or 60 (we’ll have to wait and find out the visual modes) is quite the leap on top of the graphical changes. The PS4 remaster I believe goes to a checkerboarded 4K with 60fps and HDR. We should also remember the cutscenes were pre-rendered on PS3/4. I assume on PS5 they will be real-time. Color me excited for the inevitable Digital Foundry analysis.

As a big fat fan and collector, I’m happy to see a special edition of the game. The Firefly Edition is exclusive to PlayStation Direct. It comes with a stellar looking Steelbook and a re-release of the American Dream comic with new covers all designed by David Blatt. You know I ordered my copy.

What I’m most curious about are the gameplay tweaks. There was no outright mention that the gameplay was being lifted from Part II. It would be quiet difficult to “copy and paste” the fluidity from the sequel into the original scenarios in the first game. They’d have to be redesigned to allow for that range of mechanical freedom.

We’ve implemented modernized gameplay, improved controls, and expanded accessibility options in this single-player experience to allow even more individuals to enjoy the game. Effects, exploration, and combat have all been enhanced.

It’s possible they’ve expanded areas and redesigned combat encounters. Maybe they brought in cut ideas like having Infected and Hunter encounters come up outside of Left Behind. There is interesting potential with a ground-up remake. I’m excited to learn what opportunities the team has taken.

The studio has promised more in the coming weeks and months. With the game only 84 days out, it’s great to have it in our hands so soon.

The PS VR2 Headset is Revealed

First look: The headset design for PlayStation VR2 by Hideaki Nishino for PlayStation.Blog

I rarely embed images directly into a post here on Max Frequency, but this seemed appropriate. The four cameras have a spider-like look to them. Inside-out tracking is going to make this headset far more accurate and versatile.

PlayStation is very excited about the vent design, which I believe can be seen in the profile shot. Vents are essential in a VR headset. I only hear them on my Quest 2 when installing a game. Thanks to wearing over-ear headphones, fan noise is a nonissue.

The back headband is likely where the haptic motor is located. At the base of the skull, I am curious about the physical sensation it will provide. The back is also where the lone cable protrudes from. I am curious how long the cable will be. My gut check says 16 feet.

PlayStation says devs have their hands on dev kits. I take this as a great sign for the product. Hopefully, we see games in action this summer before release. Heck, I really hope release is this Fall.

Horizon Forbidden West – PS5 vs PS4 vs PS4 Pro – Digital Foundry

Horizon Forbidden West – PS5 vs PS4 vs PS4 Pro – Can Cross-Gen Deliver For All Gamers? by Digital Foundry on YouTube

Here was what I said at the end of my post about DF’s comparison video for Forza Horizon 5.

While it does look amazing on old hardware, I still have to imagine what the game could have been if they had dropped Xbox One support from the outset. We’ll find out with the inevitable Forza Horizon 6.

I also can’t wait to see how Sony’s development teams fare in their upcoming cross-gen titles. I have a tough time imagining scalability and performance of this caliber. Bravo Playground Games, bravo.

More credit where it is due. I am real impressed that both PS4 consoles keep a stable 30fps. I feared it would have quite a few more hiccups. The quality difference in assets is also profound. Guerrilla Games appears to have kept the experience intact, even on nearly ten-year-old hardware.

But again, you have to wonder what design and developmental decisions would have been if Horizon Forbidden West started out as a PS5-only game. I’m aware that this particular title started out as a PS4 game. That question is always lingering in my mind for these major cross-generation first-party titles. With Gran Turismo 7 and God of War: Ragnarok still on schedule for this year, I wonder how much longer the cross-generation game will be sticking around for the PS5 and Xbox Series consoles.

Sony Buys Bungie for $3.6 Billion

PlayStation: Bungie deal is about multiplatform, live-service games by Christopher Dring for GamesIndustry.biz

“The first thing to say unequivocally is that Bungie will stay an independent, multiplatform studio and publisher…”

So what is the $3.6 billion buying exactly? I’d say experience, technology, and user-base expansion. Sony is clearly moving toward a more aggressive services offering. Bungie’s decades of experience for online communities and engagement is hard-earned. Owning Bungie gives Sony access to Bungie’s in-house tech and talent for creating some of the best first-person shooter games ever. Sort of reminds me of idTech being a highlight of the ZeniMax acquisition just two years ago. There is a loot cave of game design information within the halls of Bungie.

Also, Sony just bought the entire player base of Destiny 2 and any future Bungie projects. That’s a consistent stream of revenue. I’m curious how Bungie’s existing deal with Chinese company NetEase will play into this acquisition. Whenever that game launches, those audiences will feed right into Sony — exclusive or not.

“We should absolutely expect more,” he concludes. “We are by no means done. With PlayStation, we have a long way to go.”

These purchases in the industry are far from over. Microsoft’s purchase of Activision Blizzard (I know I didn’t write about that one 😅) is just the largest flashing neon sign that says “CONSOLIDATION.” I am curious what other purchases Microsoft will make, if any. Cleaning out half of their cash for Activision Blizzard may slow major purchases for them. Maybe not. Sony definitely does not have the capital to make $68.7 billion moves, but they can apparently muster $3.6 billion here, a few billion dollars over there. Buckle up everyone.

PlayStation VR2 Specs Revealed


PlayStation VR2 and PlayStation VR2 Sense controller: the next generation of VR gaming on PS5 by Hideaki Nishino for the PlayStation Blog

Sony has provided more details on the next iteration of PlayStation VR, including officially calling it PS VR2. At CES 2022, the company provided hardware specs on the headset for the first time and the previously revealed controllers. The headset sounds great! I wanted to take a look at the specs and compare it to what I’d consider the top of the line current VR headsets — the Meta Quest 2 and the Valve Index. 

The Quest 2 is by far the most popular VR headset thanks to its wide availability and ease of use; just slide of the headset and go. The lack of friction is paramount to the Quest 2’s dominance.

The Valve Index is the powerhouse VR headset, even after nearly its release three years ago. I’ve not had the fortune of trying one out yet, but as far as I can tell, it is still the top dog in the PC space, possibly paired alongside a Quest 2 with the PC link cable.

Here’s a quick summary of those headsets main technical specifications, along with the PS VR1:

Quest 2 has a resolution of 1832 x 1920 per eye with an LCD panel. It supports 72/90/120 Hz refresh rates, with the 120 being an experimental feature as of publication. It’s Field-of-View (FOV) is 90°. The Quest 2 requires no wires for standalone play and comes with two controllers. It uses inside-out tracking via four external facing cameras to gauge where your controllers or hands are in the space. There are built-in speakers. The Quest 2 is currently sold for $299 or $399, depending on the storage size chosen. It was originally released in 2020.

Valve Index has a resolution of 1440 x 1600 per eye with an LCD panel. It supports a wider range of refresh rates at 80/90/120/144 Hz. It’s FOV is 130°. It connects to a powerful enough PC via one cable. The tracking is done with base stations, providing room-scale VR. There are built-in speakers as well. The price ranges from $500 to $1000: the headset alone costs $500, controllers $279, and a single base station costs $149 (two are required). The complete bundle costs $1,000. The Index was originally released in 2019.

PlayStation VR1 has a resolution of 960 x 1080 per eye with an OLED panel. It supports 90/120 Hz refresh rates. It’s FOV is 100°. It connects to a PS4 and a necessary processor unit. The tracking is done with lights on the headset and controllers through the 3D camera accessory for the PS4. There are no built-in speakers. The price started at $400 with no camera or controllers, but is currently bundled with the required accessories and a couple of games for $350. PlayStation VR was originally released in 2016.

The Quest 2 and Index will reach two and three years of life here in 2022, respectfully. The tech is older, especially in a rapidly developing tech space. Their viability is a testament to their design with the foresight of where this space was going in the near-future, particularly in the realm of tracking hands accurately and reducing the barrier to playing in VR.

Here are the specs for PS VR2:

PS VR2 will have a resolution of 2000 x 2040 per eye with an OLED panel, providing 4K HDR picture quality. It will support 90/120 Hz refresh rates. The FOV is 110°. It will connect directly to a PS5 via one USB-C cable. PS VR2 will have inside-out tracking and eye-tracking. It’s price is not yet announced. It does not seem to have built-in speaker, but it will have haptic feedback built into the headset as well as the new PS VR2 Sense controllers. It does not have an official release date yet, but I suspect it will be released in 2022.

The leap in technical specifications over all three of these headsets makes sense for a new consumer headset in 2022. As the technology gets better and smaller, more can fit inside a head-mounted device. 

The standout features are eye-tracking and haptics in the headset itself. I’ve yet to experience eye-tracking in a VR headset — I’m not even sure of a consumer headset capable of it — but the promise of a new, natural form of input is exciting in a literally immersive gaming experience. Moments like looking in the mirror of Batman: Arkham VR can have added realism not previously possible.

The PlayStation 5 is leaning greatly into added layers of immersion through 3D audio and the insane haptics of the DualSense. It makes sense that the new PS VR2 Sense controllers would feature similar haptics, but I was surprised to read that the headset itself will also have haptic motors in it. I am incredibly curious to feel this in action. It’s not quite a synesthesia suit, but this combined with the controllers definitely sounds like a major step forward in physical feedback.

Given how impactful the PS5’s 3D audio has been, I imagine the experience in VR will be sensational.

On paper, PS VR2 sounds like the next generation of VR, not just for Sony, but the current landscape of consumer, gaming-focused VR. Meta is hard at work on their Cambria project, which promises features like eye-tracking and face-tracking. Who knows when and if Valve will make a new generation of the Index or if that expansion slot will ever be truly tapped into. I am eager to try out PS VR2 and get my head and hands on one as soon as I can.

PlayStation Acquires Bluepoint Games

Welcoming Bluepoint Games to the PlayStation Studios family by Hermen Hulst on the PlayStation Blog

Today I’m very excited to announce that PlayStation Studios has grown again with the addition of long-time partner Bluepoint Games! From the exceptional PS5 remake of Demon’s Souls to the critically acclaimed PS4 remake of Shadow of the Colossus and remasters of fan favorites like Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection, Bluepoint has built a name for itself by creating some of the highest-quality remasters and remakes in the industry.

With each of its projects, Bluepoint has raised the bar on console-defining visuals and gameplay, and the studio’s vast expertise in world building and character creation will be a huge plus for future PlayStation Studios properties.

Yours truly back in April writing about PlayStation’s blockbuster garden:

It sounds like they wanted to be Sony’s first party remake studio, at least at first. I predicted this year that Sony would buy Bluepoint Games. I still think that is a possibility and should happen. In the long run, it could be cheaper to buy the best remake studio in the business than develop one from the ground up internally. Microsoft certainly thinks it is cheaper to buy prominent studios in the long run.

And another one of my 2021 predictions has come to pass. I am having a very good year.

That’s No Moon Studio Announced, Former PlayStation Devs Behind It

Game Veterans Establish New Indie Development Studio by Trilby Beresford for The Hollywood Reporter

That’s No Moon Entertainment is led by CEO Michael Mumbauer, former head of PlayStation’s Visual Arts Group. For its debut action-adventure project, the company is backed by a $100 million investment from South Korean developer Smilegate, creators of the CrossFire first-person shooter series.

I have never heard of CrossFire, but Michael Mumbauer’s name is familiar. Mumbauer was the head of PlayStation’s Visual Arts Group, which operates as a support studio. Mumbauer reportedly wanted to remake The Last of Us as a way to get Sony’s attention and pursue standing out as its own team, remaking games and creating new ones. That did not fly. Mumbauer left Sony by the end of 2020.

This is apparently what he has been up to.

There are quite a few PlayStation dev alums at That’s No Moon. Four of the 29 current team members alone are from Naughty Dog. More hail from PlayStation (possibly the Visual Arts Group itself), Sony Santa Monica, and Bend. Others come from Bungie and Activision.

My brain immediately went to what if PlayStation entered a second-party relationship with That’s No Moon, but that sort of seems farfetched, considering how Sony treated Mumbauer’s ambitions for the Visual Arts Group. Maybe if the check is big enough and That’s No Moon keeps creative control. Whatever their game becomes, we won’t see it for a long, long time.

Sony PlayStation Revisited, Japan – DF Retro

DF Retro: Sony PlayStation Revisited – Every Launch Game Tested – Part One: Japan by Digital Foundry on YouTube

It’s DF Retro’s BIGGEST episode yet – split into three parts running in consecutive weeks. John Linneman and Audi Sorlie revisit the launch of the Sony PlayStation from its origins in Japan to its eventual rollout across the globe – and in the process, assess every single launch title in all three territories, stacking them up against other versions on other systems.

This is a rich, in-depth look at the launch of the PlayStation. While I may have been alive, I was not there for the consoles launch. This is the exact coverage we’d expect today between a PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, but between the PlayStation, Sega Saturn, Super Nintendo, and the arcade. Oh to go back in time for these launches.

Cross-Generation Games are like Movies at the Theater

It’s vital Sony maintains its PlayStation 4 support | Opinion by Christopher Dring for GamesIndustry.biz

In reality, people will want the best version of these games. Spider-Man: Miles Morales is more popular on PS5 than PS4, and that will be true of Horizon: Frozen West, Gran Turismo 7 and God of War. It’s the difference between watching the new Marvel movie at the cinema compared to getting it on Disney Plus. The hardcore fans will want the big screen experience. But as the film industry also discovered during the pandemic, there’s a huge opportunity in the TV space.

I like this analogy. Movies have totally shifted in the last year, bringing the direct-to-digital future to living rooms sooner than big theater chains ever wanted. I certainly rented my fair share in the last year. Heck, Warner Bros. bringing their movies to HBO Max on day one made me keep my subscription.

And Dring is right about people wanting the best versions. Movie theaters are opening back up. People will buy the PS5 version of Spider-Man or God of War, if they can. They may even opt to wait until they get a PS5 to buy those games (or, as I’m sure Sony hopes, double dip).

I’ve always agreed that cross-generation support makes sense, as a business, especially with an install base of 120+ million PS4 consoles.

In the bloody confusing aftermath of the PlayStation 5 stream, Sony confirmed that Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Sackboy: A Big Adventure, and Horizon Forbidden West are also launching on PS4. After believing in generations it seems that Sony also believes in its PS4 install base.

It’s no secret that I have voiced concerns about Xbox’s own public promise to support cross generational support for its Xbox consoles. The wider the range of supported hardware, the more work it is for the developers and the more it can limit the upward potential of the game. Now Sony has promised three major first party titles are cross generational.

This is great (just like it is for Xbox) for those consumers that don’y want to or can’t upgrade to the next gen consoles. You aren’t left behind. Nintendo has done this before with popular Zelda titles. It is definitely a win for consumers.

I guess they should have just confirmed Gran Turismo 7 and God of War were cross-gen too.

My stance is firmly rooted in limited development potential. With such technological strides in next-gen with the SSDs, native 4K, and so on, developing games for nearly decade old hardware has to cut off forward progress and new, previously impossible ideas.

Colin Moriarty pointed out yesterday that the only first-party PS5 exclusive we know about is Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart and that is out in one week. Hopefully, E3 2021 changes that soon, but man that is weird for Sony to have all these games close to the chest after the open-book that was the PS4 catalog.

I’m starting to get a little whiplash from Sony talking out of both sides of their mouth. They need to communicate a clear message. If that message is “We are supporting PS4 and PS5,” then they ought to embrace it, clearly share which games will do that, and incentivize the upgrade to PS5 beyond being new and shiny. Eventually, first-party development will leave PS4 behind and wholly focus on PS5. Sony needs to be better about communicating when that change will happen.

The Next God of War is a Cross-Generation Title

Hermen Hulst Q&A: What’s Next for PlayStation Studios – PlayStation.Blog:

Sony just published a new interview with Hermen Hulst, Head of PlayStation Studios, that has revealed some interesting bits of information, especially before E3. I want to go through the blog post and dig into Hulst’s responses.

PSB: Are you able to give us a snapshot of the total number of titles that PlayStation Studios are currently developing for PS4 or PS5?

Hermen: Well, we have a lot going on right now. PlayStation Studios have more than 25 titles in development. Almost half of these are new IP. The other half, they’re titles that are set in franchises that PlayStation fans already know and love. So, it’s quite a lot.

This number of games in development actually broke earlier in May. I have a draft here in MarsEdit of me trying to crack the numbers on these 25 games. So I’m just going to throw that here!

  • Naughty Dog likely has three projects in some form of production
  • Insomniac has three – Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart, Spider-Man 2, and the rumored Sunset Overdrive port or sequel
  • San Diego with MLB the Show
  • Bend with their new project (more below)
  • Horizon Forbidden West
  • Haven with Jade Raymond
  • Firewalk Multiplayer project
  • Japan Studio/Asobi Astro new game
  • Sucker Punch with a Ghost of Tsushima sequel
  • Polyphony Gran Turismo 7
  • Media Molecule Dreams PS5 port
  • London Studio probably with a PSVR 2 title
  • Pixelopus Concrete Genie folks
  • God of War (2018) sequel and possibly that space game?
  • BluePoint’s next project?

By my estimation, I came up with 20 of the 25  games, but less than half a straight-up new IP. Speaking of new IP…

And you know, Bend Studio is working on a very exciting new IP that they’re very, very passionate about. They’re building on the deep open-world systems that they developed with Days Gone. So I’m really happy for Bend Studio.

Interesting to specifically call out Bend, especially after the reports they were sucked into Naughty Dog support for a brief period of time, which led to leadership departing the studio. Eager to see what is next for that team.

So we have, currently, two very big, very narrative-driven games in development: Horizon Forbidden West and the next God of War. And for both of those, they’re frankly affected by access to performance capture and talent. For Horizon, we think we are on track to release this holiday season. But that isn’t quite certain yet, and we’re working as hard as we can to confirm that to you as soon as we can. 

Sony seems to be keeping Horizon’s date very close to the chest. This helps explain why there was no mention of even a release window during the State of Play last week.

And for God of War, the project started a little later. So we’ve made the decision to push that game out to next year, to ensure that Santa Monica Studio can deliver the amazing God of War game that we all want to play.

This is not surprising at all. The real surprising God of War news comes next.

Where it makes sense to develop a title for both PS4 and PS5 — for Horizon Forbidden West, the next God of War, GT7 — we’ll continue looking at that. And if PS4 owners want to play that game, then they can. If they want to go on and play the PS5 version, that game will be there for them.

The cross-generational bottleneck seems to be going on for a lot longer than I had hoped. It is a shame that God of Warand Gran Turismo 7 are cross-generational, especially when they will be released nearly two years post-PS5 launch. This fundamentally limits development potential. By 2022, the PS4 will be nine years old! How can anyone hope for solid PS4 performance and next-generation pushing features when you have to bridge a base-PS4 and the PS5? It can be done, and God of War will likely run fine on PS4 and great on PS5. The real detriment is the restriction it puts on potential. If the floor for development was just the PS5, the sky is the proverbial limit. With the PS4 in play, that ceiling is much, much lower.

This interviews seems to be a mix of good news and disappointing news that PlayStation wanted out in front of E3. We won’t be seeing Bend’s new game in a couple weeks. God of War may appear, but won’t have a 2021 date and is cross-gen. It is extremely exciting to hear about 25 new games, with half being new IP. Hopefully E3 can be a brighter spot, now that some of the more disappointing news is out of the way.