The PlayStation 4 has been a major success for Sony. The company got a bit cocky after the juggernaut that was the PlayStation 2, which made the PlayStation 3 a slow burn. The console didn’t have many stellar exclusives until the end of its life cycle, and the Xbox 360 dominated the beginning of that generation, at least in North America.
However, despite all the company’s quirks, Sony took a modest approach with the PlayStation 4 and it’s paid off tremendously for players. The PlayStation 4 has an incredible and diverse lineup of exclusives. While not without its hiccups and Sony’s classic weirdness (namely, when are they going to let us change our names?), PlayStation fans should be satisfied with the trajectory the company has maintained towards success.
Let’s get into all the ups and downs of Sony and the PlayStation in 2018…
The PlayStation Classic – Was it a Misstep?
The PlayStation Classic released this month and was met with lukewarm reception. We had varying opinions on the retro console at Outerhaven, both critical and more favorable. It was only natural that Sony release their own classic console relying on nostalgia from the 1990s. After the success of other mini retro consoles and the current success of the PlayStation brand, the PlayStation Classic was a natural step for Sony.
Still, these varying opinions pose the question as to whether the PlayStation Classic was a misstep. The console comes with only 20 pre-loaded titles, and arguably it’s missing some definitive PlayStation games. Sure, there should be at least a few eye-catching titles on the console with big names like Resident Evil, Tekken 3, Metal Gear Solid, Twisted Metal, and even a few lesser-known games that might pull in fans of the classic console. The presentation of the system alone is excellent, an attractive mini replica of the original PlayStation.
Still, one of the biggest complaints fans shared after the announcement of the lineup is that it leaves something to be desired. There isn’t much software here to entice people at the $100 price point, functioning more as a collector’s item than anything. Besides being an attractive replica, the system is missing definitive titles from the era to get fans excited. We’ve seen over the holiday season that the release came and went without much anticipation surrounding it. While it’s unfair to call the Classic a failure, it’s also inaccurate to call it a massive success.
The PlayStation VR Continues to be a Quiet Success
When the PlayStation VR was released two years ago, it was unclear what the future of VR would hold. Would Sony’s choice to step into the VR landscape be a profitable success, or a misfire based on a fad? In August, Sony revealed that the system had sold 3 million units to date, which is pretty impressive for a niche piece of technology. The reception to PSVR and other VR technology has made it apparent that it won’t ever receive mainstream popularity, at least not in the way the technology exists now. Even as the most affordable VR console, the PSVR runs for about ~$300, depending on the accessories included. That’s the same price as a PS4 slim, so casual players may not be as interested in the niche tech. Nonetheless, developers have continued to support the system with compelling exclusives, and Sony has refused to let the PSVR go by the wayside, continuing to dedicate parts of the discussion at E3 to the system.
Not only has the PSVR been shown continued support in 2018, but there has been a diversity of genres for the system. From endearing platformers like Moss or Astro Bot: Rescue Mission, or bigger names that have received the VR treatment like Borderlands 2, Doom, and Skyrim, the PSVR library is enticing for all those that are interested in the emerging technology. The PSVR and comparable systems won’t receive widespread support anytime soon, but the year has demonstrated that Sony is at peace with that and has no plans to abandon the system in 2019. As only a modest success, it will be interesting to see if Sony decides to make a second iteration of the PSVR to accompany the PlayStation 5.
E3 Shows Off More of the Same, Sony Abandons PSX for 2018
If the previous discussion is any indication, this wasn’t a flashy year for Sony. The PlayStation Classic came and went, and the PSVR continues to be a modest success. Sony’s showcase at E3 2018 displayed some excellent games, but the problem was that most of these titles were ones we’ve seen before. It made for an event that was lackluster in the way of surprises. Sure, seeing more of upcoming games like The Last of Us Part II is always welcome, and games like this look fantastic, we’ve seen them before. There weren’t many “wow” moments because of this, and it demonstrates that maybe Sony played their hand a few E3’s too early.
Because of this, it was perhaps wise that Sony skipped PlayStation Experience this year, their PlayStation-focused event that started in 2014. Players saw the release of some highly anticipated exclusives this year, which meant that Sony likely wouldn’t have much to share at their December event. Did this lack of new announcements make for an anticlimactic finish to the year for PlayStation fans? Yes, but it’s better than having an event for the sake of tradition that is full of forced moments and familiar announcements.
Exclusives, Exclusives, Exclusives
Ending with an exploration of Sony’s biggest strength, their dedication to unique and ambitious exclusives is unmatched. One of the reasons their E3 showcase was lacking is due to the fact that 2018 saw the release of more than a few long-anticipated exclusives. First, Sony Santa Monica’s God of War took a grounded approach to the series in its mature storytelling incorporating Norse mythology, with an incredibly fun combat system to boot. The game quickly became one of the system’s best-reviewed games and took home the Game of the Year award. Spider-Man was loved by Marvel fans and anyone that looks for unique gameplay mechanics. Insomniac’s approach to this major superhero property had loads of charisma and is a blast to play, with the developers continuing to support the title with free content, costumes, and DLC. And let’s not overlook Quantic Dream’s impressively detailed choice-based adventure Detroit: Become Human, the fully-fledged Shadow of the Colossus remake, and Yakuza 6: The Song of Life‘s arrival to the west in 2018. You’d be hard pressed to name an exclusive that disappointed.
Sony’s support of excellent exclusives is not specific to 2018; these titles add to an already packed library of games. Furthermore, the company shows no signs of slowing down. Days Gone, The Last of Us: Part II, and Death Stranding are upcoming exclusives that will likely complete the PlayStation 4’s victory lap before the next iteration arrives. Sure, Sony and their decisions regarding PlayStation can be misguided. Players may have been let down this year by the PlayStation Classic, the lack of major announcements at E3 and no PSX, and in addition, there weren’t any significant software updates and new features.
With that said, it’s hard not to be excited about owning a PlayStation in 2018, even five years after the console released. Each year sees the release of more and more compelling exclusives, and 2019 looks to be no different.