In just over eight months' time, the PlayStation 3 will turn nine. Sony's always made a point of stressing that it will support its home consoles for at least ten years apiece, and it's not going to break that promise with its previous generation behemoth. But with publishers starting to focus solely on new formats like the PlayStation 4, is the ageing appliance nearing the end of its long and prosperous life? We bashed heads with editors Sammy Barker and Robert Ramsey to see what the future holds for the Japanese giant's elderly device.
It's time to see what the PS4 can do, declares Sammy Barker
When the PS3 first launched, the PlayStation 2 was just over six years old – but the PS4 was forced to wait seven years for its time to shine. Factor in the Xbox 360, which deployed in the heady days of 2005, and the previous generation was an abnormally long one – it's no surprise that many engaged gamers were itching to move on.
There's been a lot of talk about the PS4's success here at Push Square, with its install base now sitting at 20.2 million units; the console's yet to find its 'killer app', and those statistics are taking some by surprise. But by the time that 2013 arrived, Sony's last-gen system was feeling a little long in the tooth – The Last of Us and Grand Theft Auto V aside.
An install base of over 80 million units meant that publishers would be forced to support the format for some time, but I reckon that it's now nearing the end of its life. Hardcore gamers – those that drive the success of all kinds of games – are buying their software for the PS4, and that's evident in various sales charts.
Dragon Ball XenoVerse, for example, debuted fourth on the PS4 in last week's UK best sellers list – but its PS3 counterpart didn't even break the Top 40. Over in the US, meanwhile, next-gen exclusive Dying Light stole the fastest selling survival horror game gong from The Evil Within in January – a game which also deployed on last-gen machines.
There are exceptions: Call of Duty and Japan being the biggest culprits. Advanced Warfare bucked trends in the December NPD report by selling best on the Xbox 360, suggesting that there may still be a market for annualised sequels on the ageing machines. And with the state of gaming in dire straits, the people in the East seem reluctant to adopt Sony's expensive new appliance.
But these are, by and large, anomalies, and the publishers seem to understand that, too; Wolfenstein: The Old Blood is skipping last-gen formats, as is Mad Max and Dragon Quest Heroes. The thing is that you can't look at install bases alone; how many of those 80 million PS3s are broken or waiting for someone to Buy It Now on eBay?
It's time for developers to unshackle themselves from old technology, and really get a feel for what the PS4 can do.
The industry's advancing and so must we, reckons Robert Ramsey
Well, let's be honest: it's about time, isn't it? To be fair, I find it hard to believe that the previous generation has lasted this long, which I suppose is testament to how good of a console the PlayStation 3 was, and still is.
We're beginning to see the true shift between generations now, as last-gen ports are being phased out left and right. Wolfenstein's standalone prequel, The Old Blood, is skipping the PS3 entirely, for example, while the recently re-revealed Mad Max has canned its plans for a PS3 release as well.
Meanwhile, titles like The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt simply wouldn't be able to run on Sony's ageing machine, but at the end of the day, this is the natural order of things. The PS3 is an outlier in that its reign had lasted almost a decade before the PS4 was officially announced, and with technology's constant forward flow, we can't possibly expect the Japanese firm to fully support the creaking older console.
That's not to say, however, that everyone should go and toss their PS3 into the nearest skip. The device has built up a staggeringly good library of releases, and the variety on offer is fantastic for anyone who's looking for a cheaper entry point into console gaming. All in all, though, we have to accept that it's the PS4's time to shine.
There is one continued force that's stopping the PS3 from settling into a cosy retirement home, however, and that's Japan. Unlike here in the West, where sales have sunk like a rock since the PS4's inauguration, the console's still doing relatively well in the Land of the Rising Sun, and it's still getting a steady stream of software to boot. A particularly good example of this increasingly noticeable gulf between Western and Eastern markets is Dragon Quest Heroes – a game that launched on both devices in Japan, but is settling solely for a PS4 launch overseas.
Much like the PS2, it's looking like the PS3 could hang around for some time yet, then, but we're beginning to see its lifeblood slowly ebb away nonetheless – especially as far as Western publishers are concerned. The PS4 may not yet have its 'killer app', but those calling for one must step back and see the bigger picture: most of the industry has already shuffled over to Sony's angular black box, and once it's fully committed, it ain't coming back.
Do you think that the PS3's had its time, or do you think that there's still a sizeable audience for software on Sony's ageing system? Make a difficult decision in the comments section below.
Is the PS3 on its last legs? (96 votes)
- Yes, and it's about time33%
- Yes, but I don't want it to die25%
- Maybe, time will tell14%
- No, but it should be by now10%
- No, it's still got plenty of life left18%
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