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Soapbox: Stop Sobbing Over Retail Releases and Embrace PS4's Smaller Titles

Posted by Sammy Barker

Sammy Barker reckons that you're overlooking the most exciting games

I tend to hate change. I’m the kind of curmudgeonly so-and-so that gets bent out of shape when the local supermarket stops stocking a certain type of biscuit and coerces me into buying something other than chocolate chip digestives and own brand custard creams. It’s not that I don’t like trying new things, I just get comfortable with the things that I like – and that expands to games. Before the announcement of the PlayStation 4, for example, I was terrified that Sony was going to significantly change the layout of its controller. I’d heard rumours prior to February’s big coming out event that the DualShock 3 was on the chopping block, and I had nightmares of asymmetrical analogue sticks right up until images of the revamped peripheral leaked. Similarly, I was one of the vocal minority planting pitchforks outside of Sucker Punch’s office when it temporarily decided that skin headed hero Cole MacGrath should look like the kind of model that would appear in a department store’s Christmas commercial. Sometimes, though, change creeps up on you.

The delays of DriveClub and Watch Dogs disappointed me this week – but not as much as I was expecting. Don’t get me wrong, I was planning to purchase both titles alongside my next generation console, and was really looking forward to trying them out. However, while I can appreciate the commercial implications that the release setbacks will have on the impending platform, I’m not overly gutted that they’ll be absent from my launch day haul. For starters, I think both titles have terrific potential, and I’m relieved that their respective developers have been given the time required to realise that rather than rush out their products swifter than the next The Saturdays single. But more than that, these weren’t the releases at the top of my most wanted list. In fact, what I’ve realised is that outside of Killzone: Shadow Fall – and arguably Knack from a personal curiosity perspective – none of the PS4 launch games that I’m really looking forward to will ship on a disc.

We’re reaching a point where digital downloads are usurping their stuck-in-the-mud blockbuster brethren

If you’d have told me over at the start of the PlayStation 3 era that digital downloads would represent my most anticipated games moving forwards, I’d have rightly laughed in your face. But times change, and while we might not always like it, I feel like we’re very much travelling through a transition right now. Last year, my absolute favourite releases were Journey, The Unfinished Swan, and Velocity. These three games probably had a combined budget less than a tenth of any of 2012’s biggest titles – possibly even less – but entertained me more than anything that reached store shelves. They were original, clever, and warm. On the flipside, a lot of the blockbusters that are being released today – no matter how commercially spectacular and technologically advanced – feel like they’re being designed by committee, and are conceived to appeal to the lowest denominator. There’s nothing wrong with that, but as budgets and production costs soar, it’s happening more and more in the physical space. Digital downloads, though – whether they’re being funded by a publisher or a studio of five people – have an inexplicable freedom to them. There’s still a desire to succeed, of course – who wouldn’t want to create the next Minecraft or Angry Birds? – but with the commercial risks somewhat mitigated, that hunger is fused with a legitimate desire to surprise, delight, and innovate.

As PlayStation fans, we’re lucky that our preferred platform holder is willing to take those chances in the retail market. The likes of The Last of Us and Beyond: Two Souls are two of the most fearless blockbusters that I’ve ever played, and they stand against everything that’s happening elsewhere in the physical space. But those types of titles are few and far between, and there’s nothing quite like that within the PS4’s launch window if you focus your attention on retail games. Fortunately, that’s no longer the only sector that exists anymore, and I always find it baffling when people talk down the impending platform’s launch lineup without spending a moment to look at its more interesting titles – the ones that are poised to deploy purely via the PlayStation Network. Warframe, for example, is an exciting co-operative third-person shooter built around an acrobatic gameplay mechanic that makes you feel like a superhero even when you’re completing relatively mundane takes. Meanwhile, Contrast – the title that’s actually set to replace DriveClub as a day one PlayStation Plus giveaway – is a Casablanca-esque excursion through 1920s Paris. To me, these are infinitely more intriguing than another racing and sandbox game.

Push Square poster Bliquid asked me earlier in the week whether I would still be satisfied with Sony’s upcoming system if everything other than Resogun got delayed. It was that question that provided the basis for this article, and I’ve had ample opportunity to mull over the quandary ever since. The answer’s yes. Don’t get me wrong, it would be an absolute commercial disaster on an unimaginable scale if such a thing were to happen – and, fortunately, there’s no hope in Hell of that ever being the case – but as a thought exercise it’s made me realise just how much this new era of digital downloads means to me. Housemarque’s delirious launch title may be little more than a super-responsive shootfest set in a sparkly cylindrical landscape, but there’s no other game that I’d really rather play right now – and I can’t see that changing as its release comes and goes over the coming weeks. We’re reaching a point now where these smaller, tighter, and smarter titles are actually usurping their stuck-in-the-mud blockbuster brethren, and nothing illustrates that better than the PS4’s launch. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t be excited to get your hands on Battlefield 4 and chomping at the bit to try Call of Duty: Ghosts – those games are going to be great, I’ve no doubt about that. But for me, the retail releases – delayed or not – are far from the highlight of the impending generation. Indeed, it’s the throngs of software on the PlayStation Store that I’m most looking forward to sinking my selective teeth into. And that's a change that I actually don't hate.


Are you looking forward to the PS4’s smaller downloadable games more than its big-budget retail releases, or are you hungry for some more meaty software to showcase your new piece of hardware? Do you agree that the digital download space is playing host to some of the system’s more interesting games, or are you utterly disinterested in the likes of Resogun et al? Let us know in the comments section and poll below.

Are you more excited for PS4’s retail releases or smaller downloadable games? (57 votes)

It’s the meaty blockbusters that I’ve got my eye on

21%

The smaller downloads are right at the top of my list

12%

Honestly, I’m looking forward to both types of titles

67%

Please login to vote in this poll.

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User Comments (31)

ShogunRokAdmin

#1

ShogunRok said:

@get2sammyb poured his heart out here, and I kind of agree to an extent. I mean, people are so quick to forget and often so quick to dismiss smaller titles. Hey, I've played Warframe - it's fantastic on PC. Resogun looks stunning. We're doing a massive disservice to the passionate developers behind these titles by saying things like "they're indie games, not really worth my time."

D3athBr1ng3r187

#2

D3athBr1ng3r187 said:

I totally agree with this post because I have plenty of PC titles that people are stupidly calling indies so when Planetside 2 or DC universe among others like War Thunder and Outlast been ever an Indie game??? They were all popular PC titles coming to PS4 a console at that. As well Sony suppose to be getting console version of DayZ which is a rumor. So i'm ecstatic and excited for most of the PC original titles that are coming to PS4 in the future.

charlesnarles

#3

charlesnarles said:

I srsly want to play blockbuster-scale games. Indies don't have the same feel or depth. Mutant Blobs was fun, but where's the replay value? I'll pay more for a real/whole experience worth repeating, and the devs can have more money. You get what you pay for.

Gamer83

#4

Gamer83 said:

I think it'd be foolish for people to deprive themselves of a chance to play games like Journey, Sine Mora, Guacamelee, Retro City Rampage, Hotline Miami, Ratchet & Clank: Quest for Booty and many other great downloadable offerings on PSN. But I also think it's going a bit far to suggest people stop 'sobbing' over retail releases. I'm not going to apologize for the fact that I prefer the more expansive offerings of games like the ones Naughty Dog, Rockstar North, Ubisoft's AC team, Sucker Punch, Polyphony, 343, Turn 10, Bungie, Insomniac, Remedy and Nintendo put out.

BlueProxy

#6

BlueProxy said:

Although indies are clever, different, interesting and enjoyable, I can honestly say that none that I've played have the same exciting impact I get from a well built single player block-buster, with a good story, game play and beast graphics (Last of Us, for example). On my first power-on for a brand new console, I want to pop-in a disc. That experience gets a little watered down without a big exclusive. Just my opinion.

Ginkgo

#7

Ginkgo said:

For me the idea of Indies or PSN release Vs retail misses the point. I don't care about the physical discs and Indies are as wide and varied as they come.

I think that it is perhaps a question of age. Personally I love story and adult themes in games. There are Indies that do this well. The Walking Dead was brilliant! And journey as well to an extent. But games like ResoGun, Velocity, Thomas was Alone, Sounds Shapes etc hold little to no appeal to me, other than as a quick distraction occasionally. Not because they are bad or PSN or Indie, but because they lack what I love best about gaming – story and rich worlds to explore.

I played (and loved) defender in the 80s. Why do I want to play ResoGun 30 years later, when there are games like The Last of Us are around which are so much richer? They didn't make TLOU in the 80s because it was impossible, but they would have if they could have. And now they can.
But there are Indies that pull off story and rich worlds. I am interested in Contrast. Looks really good.

Perhaps if you aren’t old enough to have been gaming in the 80s then games like ResoGun will still hold something fresh for you. Me, I will miss Watch_Dogs.

divinelite

#8

divinelite said:

I realize indie has good moments. But inside 1000 indies only about ten I could really say masterpiece

Not to even mention indie has higher chance to include in ICG

so... I like indies (have about ten bought alongside ICG) but not that much

Gaming bomber such as journey and rain doesn't even spawn on ps4 or vita and I don't have ps3

divinelite

#9

divinelite said:

And the most I hate from indies is... The resurrection of retro

Sorry for ones who love them, I cannot understand how to like RCR...

I'll try Hotline Miami next week when I'm released on icg

3Above

#10

3Above said:

I like "indie games" I still swear by Flower, and Limbo is a great game, and Journey speaks for itself. But what I think of and look forward to about a console release are the big games, the Uncharteds, the inFamous Second Sons, The FF XVs. I still want the Indies to be there and they should not be ignored out of ignorance, but the AAA titles need to be there too. BALANCE is key.

rjejr

#11

rjejr said:

Nice piece Sammy.

I like me some indie games - Swords and Solders, Plants vs. Zombies - before Popcap got eaten up, Toki Tori 2, World of Goo. But Im not spending $400 on a new system to play them. I didn't even spend $349 on a Wii U until Target gave m a $50 GC when Pikmin 3 came out.

So yeah, indies deserve tere due, on PC and systems Iown, but Im no tpayin go play them.

Basically what 3Above said.

Gamer83

#12

Gamer83 said:

@divinelite

Yeah, personally I like the retro revival but admittedly a lot of them are hit and miss. I like Retro City Rampage, for example, because it reminds me a bit of old school GTA but compared to actual GTA or other open world crime games like Sleeping Dogs and Saints Row, it does pale in comparison.

irken004

#13

irken004 said:

I'm just curious how PS+ will play out for the first few months of the PS4 release. We're used to having at least 3 or 4 titles in the instant game collection per month on PS3/vita.

Bliquid

#16

Bliquid said:

I'm afraid i'm gonna repeat myself, but i really don't see any reason for me to buy a PS4 atm. I definitely will, but not now.
So i would like to say this: if you are here on this site it is very likely that you own a PS3, a console that is living not a golden, a diamond age. There's so much to play for the rest of the year and beyond that i can't really understand why i should buy another console.
So, my point being, if you don't have your personal system seller, why buy it? Or, i dare, say, why complain about something you don't have yet and you don't need yet? It is simply not the time for you to buy it.
I didn't have a reason for buying a Vita ( even if it tickled the compulsory tech geek inside) until Persona 4, which by the way i already played on PS2. I think that buying a new console when you already own one should be something very personal. If you don't have your Resogun or your Persona 4, why do you want to buy it? Just for the sake of having the latest piece of tech? Think more about the value of your finances, and be happy with the good things you have already.
Peace.

Savino

#17

Savino said:

I wasplanning to wait anyways...
There's not enough reason since most of the games will be on pc. Killzone and knack can wait some time.

About the smaller titles, I am sorry, but I will not throw 400$ on a shinny new system to play small games! I already have the wiiu and vita for that!

Rogue76

#18

Rogue76 said:

An interesting read.

A few things that come to my mind when I read this article. First, I enjoy playing indie games, I thoroughly enjoyed Journey, and RCR brought me back to my childhood (especially with all the references :)). Perhaps it's because I grew up in an era where the graphics...well...stunk! While I am in awe of graphics now a days, the graphics aren't what pull me into a game, it's the game itself, and if it's a good game, I'll play it, doesn't matter if it's an indie game or a big named studio.

The second thought that came to mind was a program I heard on NPR, which talked about the state of video games. What I found interesting is that big studios put in a lot of time and money to make games that take 40+ hours to play, when the "average" gamer only plays about 10 hours of the game, then goes online somewhere to view the ending of the game. Because of this, a lot of studios are looking to make shorter games.

Now I say "average" gamer, but I'm not implying anyone here is an "average" gamer, I think the people on here are extraordinary gamers :). But I do think that a lot of people my age, (37 if anyone is wondering) that grew up playing Atari, NES, SNES, PSone, PS2, PC, etc...the gamers of my time now have other responsibilities, and thus, don't have time to play the long epic games that big studios produce.

That's just my two cents.

ohhaime

#19

ohhaime said:

I'm Absolutely more looking forward to playing the "smaller" games. I don't think there has been a single retail title I would pay money for, there are a few I'll play when/if they are free from PS+, but except for MM's unannounced game there's nothing I'm really excited to play.

To me the problem with most of the indie games coming to PS4 is that most of them are also coming to PC. It's hard to convince me to buy a new console when I can already play most of the games I want for it on my PC.(And play most of them better in my Elitist PC gamer opinion.)( Actually PC gamers aren't elitist,We're just better then everybody else :P )
But PS+ actually is becoming a deciding factor in how much I want a PS4. I probably would have bought Contrast on PC. But now that I'll be getting it free and I have something I'll want to play at launch, It makes me want to pick up A PS4 sooner.

I agree with what @Rogue76 said,Smaller games fit much better into my life now that I'm older and have less time for games. When I was young I was fine spending dozens of hours on a single game. But now a short rich game that takes about ten hours, Maybe thirty for something like an RPG with a good story,is what I prefer. Most longer games are just packed with repetitive filler anyway.

@Ginkgo Have you played Thomas Was Alone?It does have a story and I personally feel It's a masterpiece of storytelling.

redd214

#20

redd214 said:

Well I for one was extremely excited about playing DriveClub day one. First thing I was going to do was download it. Watched the trailer for Contrast and knew about 30 seconds in it wasn't my cup of tea and I love a good platformer. I typically gravitate towards more big budget titles in the past but that may change. I'm not an indie hater at all but very few interest me. Resogun Looks fantastic but none of the other indie titles I've seen in the launch window really appeal to me.

Tasuki

#21

Tasuki said:

@get2sammyb: Very nice read.

I have to say that the only big game I am looking forward to on release day is AC IV. Watch Dogs looked good but I can wait for that one and some of the others I will probably rent. But the F2P games have certainly caught my eye. I will be checking those out for sure as well as some of the other download only games.

Squiggle55

#22

Squiggle55 said:

I completely 100% agree with @get2sammyb. "On the flipside, a lot of the blockbusters that are being released today – no matter how commercially spectacular and technologically advanced – feel like they’re being designed by committee, and are conceived to appeal to the lowest denominator."

I couldn't agree with that quote more. Enough said. There are exceptions of course, just as there are also indie games that are no good. But there isn't an ounce of my being that is even slightly interested in WatchDogs, and the indie games that rise above the rest and arrive on PS4 with the backing of Sony will no doubt be the highlight of the entire generation for me.

Punished_Boss

#23

Punished_Boss said:

Hmm? Comment is not up, network issue.

I will embrace others taking up smaller titles although it generally isn't my cup of tea so i won't fully embrace it for the time being, the reason why i say generally is because i will admit that i do play the smaller titles on occasion because they are usually addicting well this one Crazy Market on PS Vita See link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f-ix_6lbkPM I have been playing it, like it but will never replace the big boys.

But i completely agree that smaller games shouldn't be left out of the equation because they are indie, F2P, small or whatever excuse, a game is a game deal with it, if offers enjoyment to a few people.

But i will only buy a platform for the most part for the big games, with the little games being far and few or none, For the sobbing part i agree on a completely different point though. Well there is the saying bigger is always better.

Think of that as you will.

get2sammybAdmin

#24

get2sammyb said:

@Gamer83 Yeah, absolutely no reason to apologise for preferring the big titles at all. It's great that you're still willing to give the smaller stuff a chance.

@irken004 I'm sure it will be a slower start as there simply won't be the depth of content available to keep big stuff coming. Remember that there will still be free stuff launching on PS3 and Vita for a while yet, though.

@Bliquid It's a fair point. I have an enormous backlog, so I'll probably end up spending more time with my PS3 than PS4 this Christmas. That said, there is an undeniable appeal to the latest "shiny" thing, and I think for most people, that's the draw.

@Rogue76 Thanks for reading. I can well believe that statistic. I've always been an advocate of quality over quantity, and feel that some modern games are simply too long. A nice, condensed experience like Journey has definitely become my preference over 30 hours of repetition in recent years.

Thanks everyone else for reading! :)

3Above

#25

3Above said:

One more thing: while it is true for some, I am not interested in PS4 simply because its the latest console. My personal system seller is inFAMOUS Second Son and that wont be out at launch. What draws me to PS4 is the potential, knowing that games like Uncharted, The Order 1886, and (hopefully) The Last Guardian are coming. I personally just am not the type to wait for that 'must have' game to release before I buy the system. And In the meanwhile I'll fill the void between launch and the big budget games with ( you guessed it) "indie games!" That's probably the way it should be.

Excellent article @get2sammyb

P.S. I cant wait to replay Flower on PS4 and Vita!

Lopezdm

#26

Lopezdm said:

To be honest I wasn't hit very hard by the delay news. I had plans to buy Watch Dogs some time way after the release just because I wouldn't have the time to enjoy it at the moment. So to have the time line extended to 6 more months was fine with me. The excitement of owning and experiencing my PS4 on launch day was more then enough for me. I was content with COD and a few independent titles such as Don't Starve were going to keep me happy for a while. The games will come, I waited 6 month with the Wii U for anything that I would like to release with no luck. I also have games for the PS3 that have or will be released around the same time to entertain me. Needless to say that Sony is my go to this witner regardless.

Gamer83

#27

Gamer83 said:

@3Above

Definitely agree about the potential. That's why I'm betting on PS4, once all of Sony's studios move on to the next-gen there's no doubt the system will, for me, have the best long-term outlook for the kind of games I want to play. I probably would have waited a while though had it not been for Killzone. X1 has the lineup I think would bring me more immediate satisfaction but long term Sony just has too many good studios and while they're not the main reason I buy a console, it will have good downloadable games. With MS' consoles the exclusives seem to dry up after a year or two and the ones that do stick around tend to be in the same two or three franchises.

Visiblemode

#28

Visiblemode said:

Both are great and important, but hell, consider that today's indie is on average way better than most AAA titles made a few gens ago, without qualification. Some people get so hung up on definition. Fun is fun.

Bliquid

#29

Bliquid said:

@get2sammyb : it takes an humongous willpower for me to not buy new shiny things. I just love fine pieces of new tech and luckily (?) i can't always afford them. So i get very well all the hype and desire for a new console.
If that is someone's system seller, than that someone should go for it.
But if you're not happy with the offer, you should let the manufacturer know by the only real mean you have: wallet vote.
You think there are not enough titles worth your time and money on the upcoming PS4? Let Sony know by not buying it.
You think that AAA titles are the main reason to own a next gen console and you don't see enough on offer? Guess what.
Does the new (old?) indie scene tickle the curiosity gamer in you? Plenty of ways to scratch that hitch, not on PS4 only.
I don't want to be misunderstood, i am very, almost blindly confident that PS4 will be mine, as many titles i really want have already been announced. But i'll admit that i want to see what the machine can really do with all the new horsepower, so i do want AAA titles on it. I love my indie experiences, i just don't need a PS4 for them.
Even if i agree with those who say line between AAA and Indie is getting more and more thinner.

JMC

#30

JMC said:

Even though indie games are fun, it's the big guns that are going to make me buy a PS4, specially because these days you can get some pretty good indie games on a lot of systems and they don't really need the extra power of a PS4.
That's why I'll be waiting to buy the PS4 when there is a big game that I really want, like Metal Gear Solid V or Final Fantasy XV.

odd69

#31

odd69 said:

the smaller titles keep us busy all year round, i was always a fan of downloadable games thanks to Wiiware. Im really excited for the smaller game titles just as much as triple a titles

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