Sony loves a good PlayStation pack-in lately. You may recall the PS Vita shipping with Welcome Park, a pretty simplistic minigame compilation which introduced you to all the features and functions of its brand-new handheld. It followed the same formula with The Playroom on the PlayStation 4, a versatile bit of bundled software which showcased the unique attributes of the DualShock 4 – and later became something of a streaming sensation for a month or two.
PlayStation VR was accompanied by a pseudo-sequel to The Playroom, which would later spawn a full game in the form of Astro Bot Rescue Mission. And that means that, surely, the PlayStation 5 will continue this successful strategy, by including a piece of software on its super-fast SSD hard drive. I think that game should be Dreams, and while it may sound like a crazy suggestion on the Media Molecule title’s PS4 launch day, just hear me out.
Aside from it being a masterpiece, a lot of enthusiast discourse surrounding Dreams has settled on its commercial viability. Will this game sell? The answer, in truth, is that it’s probably going to struggle; word of mouth will obviously help as various creations continue to go viral, but there’s still a general misunderstanding about what the package entails. Sony’s come into some criticism for failing to effectively market the creation engine, but I sympathise a little bit because this is a tough sell.
It makes sense once you’re DreamSurfing and exploring all the weird and wonderful things that people have made, however, and this is where I think its potential as a pack-in could shine. Imagine having access to every single community creation, out of the box on your PS5. Imagine being able to browse your friends’ profiles and see their Dreams alongside their Trophies and Spotify activity. Imagine being able to create anything on your shiny new console at launch.
Consider an application like SHAREfactory, already available on the PS4. This has quietly proven a very popular free tool, leveraging the social functions of Sony’s current console by allowing owners to cut together gameplay clips using simple video editing software. Its accessible and encourages users to leverage their creativity in ways seldom seen on a console; bundling Dreams with the PS5 would take this same idea to a completely different stratosphere.
Here’s the thing: lowering the barrier for entry means there’s a greater audience for every Dream created, but it also increases the pool of potential creators. As an educational aide, the PS5 could become invaluable to schools looking to teach basic modelling, composing, and game design in a fun and familiar environment. For children asking for a next-gen console at Christmas, the inclusion of a creative tool could convince parents to take the plunge.
Social networks succeed because they have a low barrier of entry; once you’ve signed up to Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook you’re pretty much free to connect with your friends and build your audience as you please. Dreams is, in every sense of the word, a social network – but to reach critical mass it needs to be in front of as many people as possible. Media Molecule says it has a ten-year plan for this project, and the best way to fulfil that will be ensuring that everyone has access to it.
It’s true that I don’t know have an answer to how the developer could monetise the product in this scenario; perhaps pre-installing the engine on every PS5 means that creations could eventually be sold for real-world money in the PlayStation Store. But perhaps, just like ray-tracing and the aforementioned SSD hard drive, Dreams becomes a selling point for the PS5 itself. It’d be a bold move by Sony, but it’s one that I think could become a benefit for both the game and the next-gen console moving forwards.
Do you think Dreams should come bundled with the PS5? Would you be more willing to explore its features if it was a pack-in with the console itself? How do you think Media Molecule could monetise the game should it take this route? Use your imagination in the comments section below.