Is the PS5 dashboard all it can be? (pic: Sony)
The Friday letters page is glad there was no God Of War Ragnarök blog update, as one reader hopes for a Baten Kaitos comeback.
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I signed up to PS Plus and I can pretty much confirm what people have been saying: the selection of games is okay, for a start, but the interface is really weird and doesn’t seem to want to help at all. Games aren’t properly organised by original format and none of it is really laid out logically or useful. It doesn’t really matter but it does underline the impression that the whole thing was put together in a hurry.
This surprised me, as generally I’d Sony were very good at interfaces, and yet when I suggested this to a friend he strongly disagreed and tried to convince me that Xbox has the best dashboard. Although every time I’ve tried to use it, it’s seemed slow an awkward, with too many ads.
I’m curious then, to know what most other people think has the best UI? I would say the Switch doesn’t really count though as while it is very nice it doesn’t really do anything but play games, so it can afford to have a simpler interface. It seems a trivial thing but one of the reasons I didn’t get an Xbox Series X/S is because I didn’t like the interface, so I’m curious to know if anyone would actually stick up for it.
Bring back the magic
What a mess the whole God Of War Ragnarök non-reveal has been. I think many of guessed that it was only ever going to be a blog post, which is horribly uneventful, and I’m hoping that the reason Sony decided not to go through with anything this week is because they realised they need to put a bit more effort into these things.
Ever since the demise of E3 there’s been a distinct lack of razzmatazz in the games industry. Instead of hundreds of cheering fans at actual real events all we get now is robot voiced marketing people talking you through a livestream that’s just a conveyor belt of trailers.
The magic is gone. They might as well just email us all a press release and go the whole way into making it seem as unexciting as possible. Given how much I suspect they’re paying the marketing people at a lot of these companies just don’t seem to have a clue.
Old enough to know better
So once again we see that games fans need almost no excuse to turn into complete animals on the internet, and seem incapable of seeing developers as real people. I think what’s worse about this Return To Monkey Island business is that you know the people involved were grown adults, almost certainly middle-aged men.
No teenager knows what Monkey Island is, let alone cares about it, so while I can, to a degree, understand kids getting abusive online because they haven’t fully matured the people harassing Ron Gilbert have no excuse at all.
If the game turns out to be a miserable, gloomy slog I think we’ll know what inspired that. Man, people really are the worst.
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I have been a PS Plus, now PS Plus Essential, subscriber for more years than I can remember. Upon the release of the new tiers I became intrigued by articles I read regarding some of the more obscure PlayStation 4/5 titles that I wouldn’t normally consider buying, and how good they were, so I figured I’d sign up for a month, check a few of them out and if I liked what I saw I’d take the plunge for a full 12 months. However, Sony had other ideas. They wouldn’t let me!
In order to experience PS Plus Extra Sony insist I pay £51.32 and sign up for the remainder of my PS Plus Essential subscription – 551 days. I only want to try it for 31!
I consider this to be nothing short of blackmail. I’ve no intention of jumping onboard, playing all the AAA titles and then abandoning ship. I’ve already played/purchased them all. I just want to check out a few games I’ve got no intention of buying, so what’s the problem?
Sony should pull their finger out and encourage gamers to try the higher tiers and try games they otherwise would never play, not discourage them. Maybe then they’d subscribe for a whole year. In fact, loyal subscribers to PS Plus like myself should be given a month free, never mind pay for it! And trust me I’m loyal. I renew it year on year whilst rarely playing online or the ‘free’ games.
Come on Sony, give me and other loyal subscribers a free month of one of the top tiers or at least let us pay for a month instead of blackmailing us to sign up long-term.
It’s like with everything at the moment with these big companies. New customers get the best deals and loyalty counts for Jack!
Do you and the other readers agree or am I delusional? Or if there’s a way to sign up for just a month as a current PS Plus Essential subscriber, ignore this rant and let me know!
GC: There should be. PS Plus Extra is £10.99 a month.
Thanks for the review of DNF Duel, GC. I would absolutely never have known that game existed if I hadn’t seen it here, and wow – you weren’t joking about the graphics! I was going to poke fun at the name and say that it was terrible and they should change it but I guess it makes sense once you explain it.
I still would’ve changed it anyway, and given the characters name, but I guess it’s true that the thing is doomed never to sell, at least in the West.
I really hope that Arc System Works get another big high profile project like Dragon Ball FighterZ though, as I really like their stuff. I’d much rather see them do a DC or Marvel fighter, for example, than any Western company and with their graphics it would look literally look like a comic book come to life.
Don’t say anything
I quite like the idea of developers being secretive and not announcing things until they’re actually really confident of a release date. It’s not like we don’t know they’re making something.
The concept of announcing years in advance is just unhealthy.
For gamers it feeds into this desire to always want something new and detracts from the fact some great games have been released in the past six months that the average person won’t have played.
For the studios, it creates this unnecessary pressure. Go a year and don’t show something and your game’s in trouble, show something and it’s not perfect the games going to be a failure. Cancel your game because the idea didn’t really plan out and it’s the worst thing in the world.
Take Fable for example. When that was announced they didn’t even have the team to work on it. Six months later they still didn’t even have a building to put the team into once they had hired the team. Simultaneously there’s people on podcasts discussing impressions of it ignoring something recently released you could actually play.
It is absolutely wild that Baten Kaitos got mentioned on that Nintendo shareholder call. Well maybe that’s a bit dramatic because there was that mention of the trademark being renewed last year, so maybe they were fishing for information off the back of that.
I hope there is a remaster of something. The original is a cracking little game and I think its reputation has grown a bit over the years (voice-acting apart, which is some of the worst of all time).
A Switch 2 that’s as powerful as a standard PlayStation 4, costs under £300, and launches in mid-2023? There’s trying to predict Nintendo then there’s getting your hopes up.
Maybe we can just take what they’re saying at face value and that the new entry in their financials is due to an accountancy transition, where certain assets now have to be recognised in a different period. Or maybe they’ve decided to stockpile raw materials much further in advance because of escalating costs.
They don’t have many games announced for 2023 yet but even if that was still the case at the end of this year, it wouldn’t be that unusual for Nintendo to go into a new year with us knowing very little about the line-up. Even before the pandemic started, I’m sure we went into 2020 only knowing about Animal Crossing: New Horizons in March. Every year since hasn’t been much different, nor have some before then.
The Switch is still selling very well, even if it’s no longer breaking records, and by now there’s likely scope for a significant price cut if the likes of Splatoon, Pokémon, and Zelda don’t boost sales on their own. They should be able to get the Breath Of The Wild sequel to run well enough and that’ll top up sales for a good chunk of 2023. Plus, they’ve mapped out support for Mario Kart 8 DLC to the end of 2023. That might already factor in a Switch 2 launch, but it seems just as likely that they’re doing that because they expect to fully support the original Switch till then.
Then there’s the question of selling a Switch 2 that’s powerful enough at a sensible mass market price, that doesn’t enrage people who bought an OLED model 18 months earlier, that similarly isn’t released shorty after any sort of interim Pro model (which I don’t see existing now), and that has an efficient and affordable battery, better form factor than the Steam Deck, and possibly an SSD.
Based on all the above, my prediction is the Switch 2 won’t launch before March 2024, there’ll be no meaningful hardware upgrade before then, and it’ll cost £350 at the very least. It’ll be backwards compatible, digital purchases will carry over and there’ll be a mix of cross gen and new gen releases similar to the PlayStation 5’s launch window.
I’m even tempted to adjust that to 2025 and over £400. As nice as it would be to get new hardware sooner, my concern is if it was released in 2023 it wouldn’t be future proofed enough, at least if it was selling at a sensible price. It’s possible they’ll go the Switch 1.5 route in 2023 but I think that would mean at least 2026 before we get one that’s as powerful as a base PlayStation 4.
So until 2024-25, I think Nintendo will continue to lean further and further towards leveraging the older Switch models as primarily a handheld option to discourage comparison with more powerful rivals and to highlight what distinguishes it. If things get shaky, they’ll cut the console’s price while riding out the constant demand for new hardware. This will echo the approach of ‘multiple cheap consoles per household’ they took towards the end of the 3DS/2DS lifecycle.
GC: We really can’t see Nintendo charging £400 for a console again, they’ll just reduce the power to lower the price. They’re also unlikely to factor in the OLED release into anything, given how they’ve handled previous console upgrades. 2023 seems unlikely to us, but not as unlikely as you’re painting it.
Portal 1 and 2 for £13.49 on the Switch? That’s just ridiculous value for two of the best games ever made. If it was double the price I still wouldn’t have hesitated buying them. I was half expecting the usual eShop £49.99 nonsense, but fair play to all involved.
Speaking of Nintendo rumours, I wonder what happened to all that talk of a new Donkey Kong game? That sounded super plausible to me and yet at this rate it’s not going to be ready for the 50th anniversary!
This week’s Hot Topic
The subject for this weekend’s Inbox was suggested by reader Tosh, who asks what’s your favourite PlayStation exclusive?
Inspired by the recent launch of PS Plus Premium, we want to know what’s your favourite PlayStation exclusive. It doesn’t have to be one made by Sony, just one that, at the time at least, was only available on a PlayStation console (including portables).
How important was the game, and exclusives in general, to you getting the console or forming a positive impression of the PlayStation brand, and is the franchise still going now? If it became multiformat did that lessen your enthusiasm for it in any way?
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