September 9, 2008 // 3:26 pm
- Since its launch, the PS3's momentum has been sluggish at best, with the exception of the large spike generated in June due to the release of Metal Gear Solid 4.
The head start Microsoft got in releasing its next gen console, and its early slew of great exclusives such as Mass Effect, Dead Rising, Gears of War and Halo 3, among others, yielded many early adopters who have begun their next gen libraries on the Xbox 360 and have no great reason to shell out for another expensive console. This year may be poised to change that.
In 2008, the PS3 will follow Metal Gear Solid 4's magnificent success with big titles such as Little Big Planet, Resistance 2, Killzone 2. These all make nice additions to the PS3's exclusive lineup, which already includes critically acclaimed titles like Uncharted, Ratche & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction, Warhawk, and Heavenly Sword. There are games worth playing on the PS3 now.
Furthermore, because exclusivity is becoming rarer to find, most major releases for the 360 also have PS3 iterations.
The recent spill of the Final Fantasy franchise into multi-platform territory has weakened the PS3's exclusive lineup, but has also created some interesting issues.
For now all the work done on FF13 has been PS3-centric, and though SquareEnix will clearly get it working on the 360, they haven't been shy about mentioning that corners may be cut. This means, at minimum, that it will likely be on several DVD's for the 360, versus one BluRay for the PS3.
At worse, FF13 may be technically inferior on the 360, as happened often in reverse during the last generation, most notably with the Splinter Cell franchise. If you compare specifications rather than products, the simple fact is that the PS3 has more potential power than the 360. So far, developers have not made use of this difference enough to make a difference, but if FF13 is an indication of things to come, the PS3's technical advantage (that Xbox once held), could help powerfully boost Sony's momentum.
Another significant contribution to the PS3 console is its digital distribution platform, The Playstation Network, which rivals Microsoft's Xbox Live Arcade.
Both have strong titles, and many games are available for both, but Sony has a different approach.
Whereas the Live Arcade is more tailored around pick-up-and-play experiences, Playstation Network gears towards shorter, even episodic iterations of established, triple A franchises. The first product of this philosophy, Ratchet and Clank: Quest for Booty was released on Aug. 21.
Sony is thinking of the future and positioning PSN accordingly, whereas Microsoft, reluctant to budge on its size limitations for XBLA titles, is neglecting this opportunity to use the Internet as an alternative delivery platform for larger, better-produced games.
It is hard to say whether this will be the year that the Playstation 3 manages to catch up to the 360 in terms of sales in the US. Some key games such as Left 4 Dead remain exclusive to the Xbox, and some games such as Rock Band 2 and GTA IV are half exclusive, the former a limited time exclusivity deal, the latter promising exclusive downloadable content to Microsoft.
Whether or not all of this will make any difference is anyone's guess, but what is certain is that by the end of the year, the PS3 will not have the drought of games compared to the 360 that it has arguably had this past year.
Sony may not be able to rest, but they should be able to breathe.