Quantic Dream sure knows how to get our attention. The Parisian developer famous for its work on Fahrenheit and Heavy Rain rewarded our extended patience with a brief glimpse behind the curtain at PlayStation 3 swansong Beyond: Two Souls this week, revealing enough narrative tidbits to leave our taste buds tingling until the game’s 8th October launch. But with the release so close to the PlayStation 4, should Sony be reconsidering the title’s target platform?
The narrative-driven opus does not look like an inexpensive endeavour. Founder David Cage and his equally ambitious crew spent twelve months working with Hollywood stars Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe, shooting groundbreaking performance capture for the PS3 exclusive. For context, the principal photography for the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy took about fourteen months. Furthermore, the studio rebuilt its engine, a move which the company’s outspoken gaffer described as “totally absurd” in a recent interview.
“Does [the engine change] make sense from a company point of view?” Cage pondered. “Not really to be honest. Being the CEO of the company, I can tell you that it’s totally absurd. But we enjoy it so much. We’re just crazy people. We don’t do this for money or fame. We want to take risks because we enjoy trying to push the envelope."
And push the envelope the title surely will, but has the company picked the wrong platform to do it on? Cage has already stressed that Heavy Rain was an extraordinary financial success for an experience of its ilk, pushing over 2 million copies on the PS3. But it also benefitted from the razor-focused marketing clout of Sony at a time when the company was desperately trying to turn the stumbling PS3 around. That won’t be the case on this occasion.
With the PS4 due out around the same time as the supernatural adventure, we can’t imagine that the platform holder’s finances will be fully invested in the project this time. Cast your mind back to 2010: the original PS3 Slim had just launched alongside Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, consumer interest in the system was at its highest in years, and the manufacturer was doing everything it could to capitalise. Heavy Rain and God of War III headlined a star-studded start to the year for the system, and you couldn’t really move without seeing commercials for either game.
But this holiday, assuming the console maker has any sense, it’ll be the PS4 that fills those spots rather than Quantic Dream’s game. We doubt that the company will ship the title without the support it requires to survive, but it seems unlikely that the release will get the colossal backing needed to propel it into the spotlight like its predecessor. That could prove a problem for a new intellectual property designed around innovative but hard to explain gameplay mechanics. But it really shouldn’t be that way.
The frustrating reality is that the impending epic and the PS4 shouldn’t be competing against each other for marketing dollars, but rather sharing them to create an even more convincing campaign. Imagine how much value an exclusive title starring Ellen Page would add to the launch window of the next generation platform’s catalogue. It’d be an easy, impressive promotional point that Sony’s competitors wouldn’t be able to counter. But furthermore, it would drive interest in both the game and the futuristic console at the same time. Suddenly, the conflict of interests would evaporate.
Of course, there’s every chance that the narrative-driven adventure could end up on the PS4 at some point. In an interview with IGN earlier this week, Cage admitted that the game has been built using a “toned down” version of its next generation engine, suggesting that it would be relatively easy for the developer to port the release to the impending platform in the near future. Furthermore, asked if the title was only coming to Sony’s current console, Guillaume de Fondaumière answered: “So far, yes.”
The tone of the comments leads us to believe that Quantic Dream intends to port the release to the PS4 at a later date – but wouldn’t it have a bigger impact if it was available on the futuristic hardware at the same time as its current generation counterpart? Staggering the launch across two different platforms will only detract from the anticipation of each version.
And for that reason, we just can’t help but feel that Sony’s planned this project wrong. We can understand why the platform holder may want to continue supporting current generation efforts such as Wonderbook and Puppeteer around the time of its next system's release, but a big budget endeavour like Beyond: Two Souls should be targeting the company’s impending console from the off. We just hope that the decision to focus on the PS3 doesn't come back to haunt the manufacturer in the future.
Do you think that Beyond: Two Souls should be a PS4 title? Will the platform holder be able to effectively market the game on the PS3 at the same time as its next generation console? Let us know in the comments section and poll below.
Do you think that Beyond: Two Souls should be a PS4 game? (29 votes)
Yes, it would really strengthen the system's catalogue
I'll happily buy it on either device
No, the PS3 deserves one last blockbuster
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