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Arnold’s Press Pause and Rewind: March 25th

So probably the biggest news event of the week was Devil May
Cry 4 becoming a multiplatform release for the PS3, X360 and PC.
Needless to say, the gaming community was in an uproar following
the announcement. On one hand, the PlayStation camp was furious
that they had lost an exclusive, on the other hand the Xbox camp
was happy and quick to wag a finger in Sony's face, and on the
third hand…PC gamers didn't really care at all. Historically,
console ports have never really fared well on PCs and most
recently Capcom's efforts have gone largely ignored (Resident
Evil 4 and Devil May Cry 3), considering how horrible they were.
But to be fair, Capcom did say that the PC version of DMC4 would
be done internally by Capcom, and not outsourced.

While this is a good move for Capcom, whose efforts on the Xbox
360 have paid off really well, this is bad news for Sony, who's
losing a big exclusive. Sony needs to continue spending money on
the PS3, aside from just advertising and manufacturing the
console now. Sony has to start investing into exclusives, even if
it means taking a hit. Because if Sony secured Grand Theft Auto
IV as even a timed exclusive, that'd allow their userbase to grow
considerably. And they'd make up the money invested by having a
larger install base of gamers who are buying PS3 software, buying
PlayStation Network software, and buying peripherals. On top of
that, because the PS3's userbase would increase, developers and
publishers would be much more willing in releasing games
exclusively for the PS3, without having Sony beg and plead.

Quite frankly, Sony got a little arrogant and they thought that
publishers would come to them (as opposed to the other way
around) and that they'd *want* to publish their software
exclusively on their PS3. But now that the X360 has a userbase of
over 10 million gamers, how could any profit-minding publisher
ignore that? How could Rockstar ignore the fact that when they
publish GTAIV they'll have 25 million to sell it to, as opposed
to 10 million? Ken Kutaragi has been accused of not pursuing
exclusives and demonstrated the arrogant behavior I mentioned a
few sentences back – and now it's come back to bite them.

Namco revealed the new Ace Combat, a franchise that has never
seen light outside of a Sony console, for the X360. Thankfully,
it seems like Metal Gear Solid 4 and Final Fantasy XIII remain
PlayStation 3 titles; but with so many variations of FFXIII
approaching, who's to say that one of them won't land on the
X360? Likewise, Metal Gear Solid games have always been a timed
exclusive for Sony, and MGS4 will likely be no different. But
Sony needs to play their cards right; start throwing around those
moneyhats in attempts to secure exclusives or timed-exclusives,
have that userbase grow, and *then* watch publishers willingly
want to publish exclusive titles without being offered incentives
— the incentive will be Sony's large userbase, as it was on the

Thankfully, Sony's 1st party efforts are arguably the best
between Microsoft and Nintendo. God of War has amassed a
following so large, that not even Sony could've predicted such
success. The MLB games are renown as the very best baseball sims
on the market. Resistance has become Sony's "Halo". The
slightest mention of Killzone 2 generates more buzz than any
other FPS in development. Likewise, the unveiling of Ratchet and
Clank had everyone's jaw on the floor. On top of all that, Sony's
two largest flagships will undoubtedly be Gran Turismo 5 and
Home. Losing such exclusives puts more pressure on Sony's
developers to churn out games that aren't just grade-A, but
triple-A. Though that doesn't mean Sony can sit back and rely on
the strength of their 1st party titles; they do need to start
securing exclusives and turning X360 exclusives into
multiplatform titles. Because I fear that if the PS3 loses any
more support, things may go south for the black beauty.

Additionally, Sony shouldn't continue to bank on Blu-Ray as the
driver of sales for the console. Simply put, the very vast
majority of people aren't ready to make the switch from DVD to
Blu-Ray, just yet. DVD has only seen a notable market presence
for 7 years, even though it's been available for nearly 10 now.
While yes, DVDs are quite dated when compared to the quality of
Blu-Ray, it's still not old enough to be retired. It's nice that
Blu-Ray players do play DVDs, but I wouldn't expect a serious
penetration of Blu-Ray players and movies into the market for
another two or three years.

In the meantime, here's some wishful thinking – a way Sony can
drop the price of the PS3 without getting its early adopters
pissed off. Drop the 60GB to $500, and offer the early adopters a
free 1st party game of choice or a peripheral of choice. There
are many ways Sony could figure out who their first buyers were,
the easiest one would be to track down earliest PlayStation
Network IDs registered. Or if a user doesn't have a PSN ID, have
that customer provide another bit of information that Sony could
use. Like I said, wishful thinking, and unlikely to happen.

In any case, of all three consoles, I still find myself
anticipating PS3 games the most. Sony's 1st party efforts go
beyond what I mentioned above, such as Drake's Fortune and that
has me very excited. Metal Gear Solid 4, Gran Turismo 5, Final
Fantasy XIII, Ratchet and Clank, Little Big Planet, Home, Hot
Shots Golf 5, and Ninja Gaiden Sigma are all at the top of my
list right now, and there's definitely stuff I forgot.

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