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Talking Point: Is the PS4's Limited Launch Lineup a Problem?

Posted by Sammy Barker

Day none

Subtract resolution from the equation and the hottest topic of the past few days has pertained to launch lineups. With new consoles from both Sony and Microsoft prompting platform warriors to froth at the mouth, the weeks leading up to the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One’s respective launches have been spent scrutinising the selection of exclusives available for each format. But how important is it to have a suite of system sellers on day one?

There was a time when a console could be defined by its initial wave of first-party software. Nintendo has been particularly good at this in the past, with titles such as Super Mario World, Super Mario 64, and Wii Sports encapsulating the ethos of their parent platforms. In truth, the PlayStation maker has been less successful in this department. While the PSone did ship with key titles such as Rayman and Ridge Racer, the PlayStation 2’s top titles were Tekken Tag Tournament and, er, FantaVision. Meanwhile, the PlayStation 3 deployed alongside the enjoyable but distinctly dated Resistance: Fall of Man.

The one exception to this rule – aside from arguably the PlayStation Portable’s launch lineup in Europe – was the PlayStation Vita’s day one care package, which included critically acclaimed games such as Uncharted: Golden Abyss, Hot Shots Golf: World Invitational, and WipEout 2048 to name just a few. Digital exclusives also included the brilliant Super Stardust Delta and Escape Plan, while Unit 13 followed mere days later.

Despite the riches of content and generally decent review scores, though, the system tanked at launch, failing to get off to the bright start that many pundits had hypothesised. Of course, the reasons for this could be attributed to a changing market, an increased emphasis on smartphones, and a high price point, but certainly the launch lineup did nothing to help its cause. In fact, the wealth of software actually put the system at a disadvantage, as the hardware went through an agonising dry spell while Sony worked to refresh the release schedule.

We think that the Japanese giant’s learned a lesson or two from the flagship handheld, and that’s why it’s kept the PS4’s launch lineup relatively thin. Many have pointed criticisms at the day one offering of Killzone: Shadow Fall, Knack, and Resogun, but the reality is that people only have so much money to spend. With big third-party titles such as Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, Battlefield 4, and Call of Duty: Ghosts fleshing out the lineup, the demand for more exclusives strikes us as a little odd.

We fully appreciate the cries from sceptics that the abovementioned titles are already available on cheaper systems, but perhaps you’re just not the target audience for the next generation device yet if you feel that way. One million PS4 consoles were sold in 24 hours in North America, a figure mostly fuelled by the furore surrounding the enhanced hardware, rather than the software actually available alongside it.

Microsoft’s decision to launch with a much larger release roster has undoubtedly augmented it with the upper-hand, but we’re just not sure that Sony’s latest family member would be better positioned had it shipped with the likes of The Last of Us and Gran Turismo 6. The latter belongs to a brand that moves around ten million copies per entry – but Sony only expects to shift five million PS4s by the end of March. It would need a perfect attach rate to sell even half of the franchise’s target tally, then, and that’s never going to happen.

Moreover, the system is sold out nationwide, and is likely to remain so right through until Christmas. If the console is already in short supply without a slew of big first-party titles, then publishing more exclusives isn’t really going to move the needle. Indeed, it’s the dry spell early next year that Sony needs to fill – and it’s well positioned to do so with the delayed DriveClub, MLB 14 The Show, and inFAMOUS: Second Son.

It’s important to get off to a strong start, but we’re just not convinced that a stacked launch lineup contributes to that. A larger selection may sway fence sitting consumers, but a steady spread of big titles is much more important in the long run – after all, the Vita proved that a frontloaded approach is worthless if the titles stop flowing after a week or two. There’s nothing wrong with sitting the PS4’s release out if there’s nothing that appeals to you – but let’s see what the first year looks like before we start getting fidgety about the system’s lack of first-party software.


How important do you think that launch lineups are to new consoles? Are you irritated by the lack of software available for the PS4, or are you perfectly comfortable waiting until early next year for the second wave of releases? Put your money where your mouth is in the comments section and poll below.

Do you think that the PS4’s limited launch lineup is a problem? (68 votes)

I’ve got more than enough to play, so I don’t think that it’s an issue at all

59%

I would have liked a little more, but I’m pretty happy

25%

I skipped on the console because I’m waiting for more games to release

16%

Please login to vote in this poll.

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User Comments (33)

rastamadeus

#1

rastamadeus said:

Super Mario World? Super Mario 64? Wii Sports? Best be careful Sammy, there's a few people on here who'll harass you for daring to mention things that aren't made by Sony.

In all serious, this happens and we have this conversation every generation, which is the main reason I've not got one and won't be until Christmas 2014 at the earliest. Since games really exploded with the NES there's been two genuinely acknowledged by the masses must have launch games, Super Mario 64 and Halo (don't understand how there, to be honest) so it's not really a new issue. At least we now have games we can get via PSN/Xbox Live so even when the draught of retail games happens in a few months there will still be indie games available.

MANTAGTJ001

#2

MANTAGTJ001 said:

I have held off buying BF4 and AC4 and NFS Rivals until I get my PS4, so a lack of launch games does not really bother me, I know we have second son and driveclub and watchdog coming so I can wait as I am going to be so busy playing the titles I wanted to play anyway.

The thing that has miffed me is that $ony are now doing a Christmas VITA/PS4 Bundle, now I would of chose this instead of my mega bundle and with Playstation Plus I would have had extra games to fill in until 2014 ...

BornOfEvil

#3

BornOfEvil said:

Sony's biggest strength is its long term support, so I'm not bothered by its perceived lack of launch titles. The problem I believe people are having due to the PS4's focus on Indies as opposed to Microsoft's focus on AAA, which I think gives MS the weaker lineup.

That said, a limited launch isn't bad. Too many must-haves at the same time would either kill your wallet or force you to make a hard decision - no one wants either of those.

Edit: I didn't read the article until after I posted my comment and oddly enough, I pretty much echoed Sammy's point.

Epic

#4

Epic said:

It could've been a problem the lack of exclusive games and the delay of both Drive Club and Watch Dogs but the hate for Microsoft and the way came up as a hero made this a succesful launch.
The early sale of accesories and games sealed the deal.

belmont

#6

belmont said:

I wanted more variety on the genres on the PS4 launch titles. I get the impression that I have not something to play that justifies the 409 euros. I don't play fps games and pure action titles and apart from them I can play the other games on my PS3. This is personal but I would prefer more games of the genres I prefer. If there was a j-rpg game (like FF15, what he hell is Square developing all those years?), a more western rpg (like Oblivion or Dark Souls), a survival horror game (a new Silent Hill or a similar new IP), an action adventure title (a more serious game that Lego Marvel or something), a new beat-em-up or fighting (a new Blazblue of MK for example, if it weren't for Injustice there would be no fighting games). For all the above I meant new titles not games available on PS3.

Off course long term support matters more in the end. Sony still supports with first party titles the PS3 (and, rarely, third parties the PSP) while, even it sold a lot, Ninty killed the Wii years ago and relies only on third parties.

Ps4all

#7

Ps4all said:

So far I am not bored at all. My only disappointment has been how glitchy battlefield 4 is, because it is otherwise amazing and I want to play it more.

zeldagaymer93

#8

zeldagaymer93 said:

The only games that I want to play that are out are Resogun, Contrast, & Assassin's Creed IV. Considering I can play AC4 on my Wii U... I don't have any reason to buy a PS4 at the moment.

irken004

#9

irken004 said:

Asscreed 4, KZ Shadow fall, contrast, resogun, blacklight retribution, warframe... I've got plenty :O

Gamer83

#10

Gamer83 said:

Compared to the PS3 launch this one is a dream. Yes, you can get games like NFS, Assassin's Creed, Battlefield and NBA on other platforms but unlike with the PS3, which got horrendous, near-unplayable ports of some games at launch, all these are playable and in some cases give you the best experience on PS4. There's no killer app, absolutely agree, but we'll have to see how that plays out. Frankly, none of the X1 games, even Forza, reviewed as well as I thought they would either. I though Killzone Shadow Fall, Dead Rising 3 and Forza 5 were all ticketed for 85 or higher, thought Forza was a shoe-in for 9.5 and 10 all over the place. I still think what hampered PS3 more than anything was price though, and PS4 remedies that problem quite a bit. inFamous: Second Son has to hit its March release though and has to live up to the hype if any momentum is to be kept. A lot rides on Drive Club and even Watch_Dogs and Destiny since the latter two are being hugely hyped by Sony.

Ginkgo

#11

Ginkgo said:

I don't think that anyone could say that the PS4 launch lineup is bad. Its good. The only question (especially with driveclub delayed) was whether MS having more retail exclusives would entice people into the emotional decision of buying a console based off their day 1 games, rather than looking longer term. (Not how I think, but I am amazed at some of the comments I have read). It was just a questions of if PS4 would loose some of its initial momentum back to XB1 because of this. MS even launched an advertising campaign around the idea.

It is too early for the numbers to settle and really see, but from all indications it has not hurt PS4 at all. Obviously with more games releasing down the road this will actually help PS4 through 2014 not hinder it.

Munkyknuts

#12

Munkyknuts said:

Yes for me it is, and it's the PS3s amazing library of games that is making hold off on getting one until the PS4 has more variety. Killzone, assassins creed and knack don't do it for me. Give me Infamous: 2nd son and a Watch Dogs that doesn't suck and we are in business. I'm sure long term there will be a bounty of amazing games but for now I'm sticking with the PS3. If there was a shock announcement next week that Fallout 4 existed and it's release was imminent I'd kill everyone of you to get to a PS4 :p I love open world exploration....

Spidernoir

#13

Spidernoir said:

Seeing as I can't even afford all of these games (I struggled just to get the PS4 as it is), it's not much of an issue as by the time a lot of these games are at a affordable price for me, new games will be out.

eLarkos

#14

eLarkos said:

I have never understood the issue with having many games released at the same time - from a consumers view point.
All this talk about benefits of delayed games giving people time to finish other games.
What is the benefit for us as consumers to spread out title releases on purpose? Its not like games have a use-by date. Give them to me all day 1 and I will play them across the year.

Visiblemode

#16

Visiblemode said:

History tells us this is a strong launch. It also tells us that overly strong launches lead to droughts that get characterized as an overall "Lack of games."

The Xb1 line up is crammed with 360 ports and low res cross plats. I hate the myth that it's somehow super strong. Why? Because of the smallest Forza ever? Because of DR3 that was rushed and hits 16 fps at 720? Ryse? Ha!

The Ps4's launch is fine and this year will be good, next year, amazing.

BlueProxy

#17

BlueProxy said:

I don't think it's really an issue, looking at how many they've sold already. Also looking at the quality and variety of games the PS3 had. I think people realize more of the same is coming for the PS4... but with even better graphics and features. Knowing a new Uncharted, GT7, The Order are coming, just to name a few, is enough for me.

charlesnarles

#18

charlesnarles said:

All the games have pretty long campaigns (if you work and go to school too). I'm only 19% thru AC4 and I've probably played that the most. My other game systems still exist, even if I platinumed every ps4 game ever, btw. Not really an issue, is it?

Jaz007

#19

Jaz007 said:

I don't think it will be an issue until their main concern isn't how many PS4's can we make. I think it's after that period they really need to bring some killer exclusives. I think Sony's trying to release Second Son when that steams starts to die. I think Uncharted 4 will come out in the Summer to keep the steam going too.

Kohaku

#20

Kohaku said:

I ordered my PS4 for Drive Club but will wait now till spring before I buy games. I will be happy with the F2P games till spring.

Reverend_Skeeve

#21

Reverend_Skeeve said:

Well written article, Sammy. I'm fine with the launch lineup. I indeed have only so much money to spend and the PS4 plus Killzone stretched my budget more than I'd have liked. With its 10h+ campaign, multiplayer and additional playthroughs, I should be good, because thanks to PS+ and the f2p games, I should be fine until next year when Driveclub and inFamous launch.

If I can scrape together some more gaming money, I might go for AC4 and maybe NFS, but it's Watch_Dogs, DC and inFamous I'm really looking forward to.

So: better to stretch the releases and avoid a dry period, imo...but I also can understand how some could be frustrated that there's not more...but then, there's always those...normally, early adopters should know by now that the situation around and after launch is often like this...and in the case of the PS4, I'm optimistic that Sony will be able to provide quality AAA titles at a regular frequency.

Cloud7794

#22

Cloud7794 said:

@eLarkos Yeah, at quite a reduced price because of how long it's been on the shelves. Remember, these companies are out to get money and timing is important. If, say, a new NFS, GT, Forza, and new IP Driveclub came out in the same month... some aren't going to get many sales at all.

Also, people want to see continued support. If you came into some money next year (or more realistically, have been saving), and figured that you'd buy a new console, you'll likely check out the games available and forthcoming. You may say "Wow, there's a lot of good games out... but nothing for the next year?" and decide to buy the other console, because at least you know they're still making good games for it, or at least staggering the release dates well enough to give you that assumption.

eLarkos

#23

eLarkos said:

@Cloud7794 I mentioned I was talking from a consumers point of view. I know there are many benefits to the producers and I understand why they do it.
Im just always confused when I read comments about game droughts and how people are happy a game has been delayed so that now there wont be a drought. You could always buy it now and wait, or even better, not buy it now and buy it in February (for example). It seems like people want sony to spoon feed them. (not trying to sound nasty but i genuinely dont understand)

divinelite

#24

divinelite said:

For you wait for ffxv just remember how long ff13 wait after announcement when ps3 release...
Jrpg will never be the same after all

I think it is vita will be the home of Jrpg because of the system is more like ps2.5 so if only more people buy it, it can be a place for rpg

And iI hold ps4 not because of games, just because we don't have affordable price just like US people...

Cloud7794

#25

Cloud7794 said:

@eLarkos It's not that we're particularly happy that games are delayed. After all, if they are, we hope there is some good reason to it besides sales (Driveclub is polishing itself up, for example). Rather, we're more looking on the bright side. The way you proposed it isn't so bad for people who buy the systems erly, but later on when people are choosing, they're gonna want the system that is consistently releasing titles. With delays comes both hope for improvement and continued interest by others. More people who stay interested = more people buy the console. More people buy the console = more games made for the console. Then it loops. We may be excited for next Spring for the releases, sure, but also for the fact that with those new games coming out, so many more people join in, and our community grows :)

@divinelite Final Fantasy 15 was announced nearly at the same time as 13, just under a different name. The wait for 13 can't compare to how long we've technically been waiting for 15 @_@

Visiblemode

#26

Visiblemode said:

@Gamer83 worth considering VGX announcements too. I'm starting to get the feeling we'll see at least one 3rd party AAA that will drop in early winter. Also, everyone keeps forgetting about Thief, I think it's still on schedule for early Feb.

Itachi

#27

Itachi said:

I think the biggest problem is that PS4 is not backwards compatible with PS3. At this point right now PS3 is still the better console with a larger library of games. If they could have included BC then it would have made the switch to next gen a easier process and the launch lineup more forgivable. Who could really complain about the launch lineup when you could still play GT6, Beyond Two Souls, The last Of us, etc. on the same console? That's just my take.

Carl-G

#29

Carl-G said:

I thought it was an excellent line up for a New console + it would of been even better with DriveClub & Watch_Dogs but i don't mind waiting for those anyway because the line up is more than enough to keep me going(+ the PS3 games i still got to play) for a long time :P

Tony_342

#30

Tony_342 said:

I bought a PS4 at launch...and I haven't opened it yet. Seriously. My Wii U and 3DS are keeping me very busy at the moment, and the only game I'm actually excited about for PS4 is inFamous: Second Son. So, I'm in no hurry to open it. I haven't bought any games for it, yet.

Gamer83

#31

Gamer83 said:

@Visiblemode

I definitely haven't forgotten abot Thief, already have that one pre-ordered. :)

I think discussion here though is more about the exclusives which will be there, it's just a matter of when. Sony says all its teams have been working on PS4 but there haven't been a ton of announcements for upcoming releases outside of inFamous: Second Son, Drive Club, The Order and Naughty Dog's game.

Visiblemode

#32

Visiblemode said:

@Gamer83 yeah but exclusivity becomes sort of moot when it comes to tiding over existing console owners, which is half the first year battle.

This is important because you don't want to see tons of used units flood the market like with Wii U, also your initial adopters are either your biggest ambassadors and your biggest critics, depending on how you keep them feeling satisfied with their investment.

Sure exclusives are a part of that, and a key to differentiation (along with superior image quality) but if an awesome third party launch landed every month it's unlikely anyone would sell their unit on Craigslist in disgust. (Not expecting this pacing just yet, but it illustrates the idea of how regularly spaced third parties are equal in their ability to retain users, especially when you have the definitive version.)

Dominion1080

#33

Dominion1080 said:

Other than $, the lack of a killer app or two is the reason for me not grabbing a new console day one. I have Destiny pre-ordered and will probably be picking up my PS4 around the same time.
As far as a weak launch being a problem, I've been a gamer all my life so I'm pretty used to it. I've seen and bought plenty of systems early only to wait for the really good games. Christmas 2014 will be crucial. Though I don't see exclusives being as important anymore. At least to myself. Almost all the games I'm most looking forward to are multi-platform. With the exception of inFamous Second Son and The Order (though this will probably be timed.)

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