Sony Follows Microsoft to the Bottom in the Exclusive Content Racket
The fifteenth day of the eleventh month has come and gone, and with its passing has ushered in the beginning of a new console generation [no, we do not count the Wii U]. With a new console generation comes new console strategies – Microsoft has already revealed their hand with a reliance on television and NFL licenses, and now the pieces of Sony’s console strategy are also starting to come together, and the results are not entirely to one’s liking.
In order to effectively differentiate a new piece of hardware the vendor thereof must be able to depict it as being capable of functioning in ways that competing devices cannot, and the easiest way to do this is to secure some exclusive content that cannot be accessed on any other platform. Throughout the last generation Sony appeared to favour utilising company resources in order to secure wholly exclusive titles for the PS3, while Microsoft for their part quickly dispensed with acquiring entire titles outright in favour of purchasing exclusivity [or timed-exclusivity] of select chunks of content. The effect that this approach has is to effectively compromise the gaming experience that owners of the competing platform are able to have with the titles that they paid sixty dollars for, while at the same time doing very little to positively differentiate the character of one’s own gaming platform. Sony also did this last generation, but only [seemingly] as an afterthought.
This time around Sony appears to have gone after exclusive content in a very concerted fashion. The PS4 version of Assassin’s Creed 4 is set to feature sixty minutes of platform exclusive gameplay, with Ubisoft’s Watchdogs also in line to receive some manner of unspecified exclusive content. Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes is also set to receive an exclusive mission which will see players take on the role of the PS1 iteration of Solid Snake in all his low resolution polygonal glory, while the PS4 release of Diablo III will see the introduction of all new mechanics. Meanwhile, PS4 owners will be granted first access to beta testing for both The Elder Scrolls: Online and Bungie’s Destiny. In all there are twenty publishers/developers who have signed on to deliver exclusive content to the PS4.
While one finds it morally indefensible to deprive someone who has paid full price of the content that is due them, that alone is not reason enough for consternation [they are Xbots after all]. Rather, it is because this approach only subtracts value for a competitor, rather than creating anything of positive value for one’s self – in short, it involves spending money in a way which will not produce anything of value for gaming.
Sony Supports the Localisation of Japanese Content
Sony are currently standing at the dawn of a whole new console generation with the launch of their PS4, while at the same time also supporting a hendheld system that is not doing so well in the sales department. On top of that their PS3 is still a going concern at a time when Sony will be looking to transfer the bulk of their support to the PS4. All of these platforms require content and bribing publishers for exclusive mission packs does not look to be capable of picking up all the slack, which is why it is most important that Sony be able to fully leverage the content that already exists for their platforms.
It is with this in mind that Sony established what they refer to as the third-party production team, a group dedicated to maximising the amount of regional content that is able to be localised into foreign markets. When individual gamers harangue Sony staff with their release-begging it is often intuitive to think that their wishes are being consigned to the waste paper basket of no fucks given, yet according to Sony’s Adam Boyes third-party productions director, Giovanni Corsi, has been monitoring social media and Sony blogs in order to compile a list of Japanese content that Western gamers would like to see given a local release – a list that is topped by the PSP releases of Final Fantasy Type-0 and the newest Suikoden title, along with the PS3 release of Yakuza 5, and a possible port of the Dreamcast’s Shenmue games.
“When we started the third-party production team, it was born out of necessity. We had a lot of publishers and a lot of content that had come out for various platforms and various territories that weren’t necessarily coming to our territory, platforms we’d love to see them on.
We’ve got a massive list – we’re calling everyone trying to get that list as much as possible. A lot of issues come around clearances or intellectual property ownerships and stuff like that.
We get a ton of requests for Yakuza, a ton of requests for Shenmue. We see the lists,” he added. I would say within the next six months we’ll have at least one if not a few announcements to make on that front.
The key is to bring people that are fans of certain content great stuff. So if people are fans of Japanese content, you can imagine that’s a place we’re putting a lot of effort into. People who are fans of the Vita, you can imagine we’re putting lots of effort into that.”
The obvious candidate for Sony’s localisation efforts is Final Fantasy: Type-0, as the series already has a fanbase which numbers in the millions. The Vita may not be doing so well right now, but a PSN release of Final Fantasy: Type-0 might well provide the push that many PS4 owners need to pick up a Vita for subsequent use in remote play. It would make a lot of sense for this to be one of the titles that the third-party production team is working on, especially considering that Shuhei Yoshida tacitly suggested earlier in the year that something was being done on this front. At any rate, one considers a team dedicated to the localisation of Japanese content to be a thoroughly worthwhile endeavour, and something which stands to positively differentiate Sony from their rivals.
Australia Requires a Molyneux Set of Ratings Guidlines
Upon the implementation of Australia’s very first R18+ rating for video games the celebrations were decidedly short-lived, as it quickly became evident that the misogyny-obsessed and utterly incompetent Gillard government had implemented some utterly arcane and borderline unworkable guidelines when it came to the depiction of female sexuality. Until now one of the most absurd casualties of these heavy-handed guidelines was Atelier Totori Plus, an anime-based game that had been determined appropriate for children under the previous ratings regime, yet earned an R18+ rating for sexual violence under the new botched legislation. Well, as it turns out Fable: Anniversary [the HD remake of Fable] is the newest game to be added to this absurd list.
While one finds it utterly delightful that Fable has been determined as being unsuitable for children of any age, it has nevertheless been designated as such on the most appallingly nonsensical grounds. One curio present in the Australian ratings system with respect to depictions of fornication and drug use, is that they are held to be many times more disagreeable in instances where their occurrence results in a reward for the player. Thus, if a Grand Theft Auto player avails themselves of the services of women of negotiable affections, only to have their health replenished, then this is something that is frowned on by Australia’s dour ratings guidelines.
It is the Grand Theft Auto scenario which appears to have been applied to Fable, only the sex in question consists in its entirety of the screen fading to black, while the player reward is nothing more than the birth of an in-game heir! Yes, that is right, Julia Gillard and her hopeless, bumbling thralls have succeeded in classifying the actual biological purpose of engaging in sexual intercourse as being objectionable contraband – to the extent that a more gratuitous sex scene could have been included in the game while incurring less of a ratings-penalty, provided that the game did not reward the player with the biological fruit of his loins. The original Australian rating of Fable was ‘M’ [the equivalent of America’s ‘T’ rating], the HD re-release of Fable: Anniversary has been rated R18+ for “Sexual activity related to incentives and rewards” because idiocy. Sometimes one truly despairs.