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
I would have liked a little more, but I’m pretty happy
I skipped on the console because I’m waiting for more games to release
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