: Sunday Meditation: Sony Needs An RPG Studio

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Sunday Meditation: Sony Needs An RPG Studio

Can you call it a trend if an obvious success is consistently absent from the industry?

Either way, it's the trend I'd like to address in this particular meditation because a few thoughts just happened to converge for me this week.

My Playstation 4 awaits me beneath the Christmas tree and I'm really looking forward to setting it up and seeing what it's all about. I hadn't planned to get any games for it until inFamous: Second Son made its debut but I managed to land a great price on Killzone: Shadow Fall. Honestly though, I'm not all that pumped about either of those and 2014 in general seems like a deserted wasteland for my tastes.

I was pretty stoked about The Witcher 3 for awhile there but now it seems like there is little hope it will actually make landfall in 2014, and if it does it will be at the very end of the year. Dragon Age: Inquisition is on the way but it's a cross-gen experience and so can't take advantage of the new systems fully. Perhaps it's just me but I always feel like RPGs are where we get to really see our new consoles at their best and most capable.

I can't help but think that if there was an RPG, any RPG, on PS4 right now it would be something everybody would be talking about and playing now that the main action lineup is in the rear view mirror. Wouldn't it have been a great idea to plan to fill the dead time between now and whenever the cross-gen period ends with a PS4 exclusive RPG and a few rounds of DLC? More to the point, does it make any sense at all that there are no Sony studios making RPGs ever?

I recognize that casual sentiment is on the side of the flashy action games. They are definitely much easier to develop and have ready for a launch, but I think Sony missed a big opportunity by letting another generation come without tackling this major genre. Bioware titles like Mass Effect and Dragon Age have been popular, Elder Scrolls games always bring in the numbers, and over in the competitor's camp the Fable games have been a big hit with the second and third games selling over 4 million copies each.

In every other genre Sony's studios have always sought to push the technical, artistic, and storytelling boundaries of what gaming is all about. That's why most agree that Playstation exclusives are the cream of the crop. Uncharted redefined the third person action adventure, Gran Turismo is the finest racing simulator available, Killzone has excelled in the first person shooter realm, God of War influences all other action titles, Team ICO pushes the boundaries of art, and while Quantic Dream is technically second party it's Sony backing their high aspirations. So why no RPG studio?

It could be an expensive endeavor but I believe they would have the edge in whatever direction they decided to go. If a Japanese studio wanted to re-imagine the JRPG in a modern way for a mainstream audience I think they would find a receptive public among their fans. Ni No Kuni and Tales of Xillia each managed about 1 million copies sold; those were exclusive but not first-party.

If instead Sony wanted to do something like Dragon Age where the game story is linear but choices and dialogue make a big difference then there is a lot of room to innovate there. If the studio decided that the big, huge open world trend is the better way to go I think there is plenty of room for an Elder Scrolls competitor (we won't see another one of those for many years). Even the less popular RPGs like Kingdoms of Amalur, Dragon's Dogma, and Two Worlds II all sold between 1 and 2 million copies; I'd bet that Sony could do a sight better than those projects.

As I see it a dedicated RPG studio at Sony is something that couldn't possibly falter unless the product came up short, and that rarely happens with Playstation exclusives. What kind of RPG would you like to see from a Sony studio?

12/21/2013 David D. Nelson

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Legacy Comment System (20 posts)

Lawless SXE
Sunday, December 22, 2013 @ 12:26:27 AM

I agree with this sentiment. There are some great RPGs out there, and Sony pretty much has most JRPG developers on board with them but to take that a step further and start making RPGs internally again would be brilliant. On the other hand, wasn't Legend of Dragoon one of the biggest RPGs made at the time, only for it to fall far short of what Sony was hoping for? You can kind of understand why they're reluctant to jump back into it.

That being said, it was reported a little while ago that Sony issued a new trademark for Arc The Lad, so maybe they have Studio Japan working on a new entry in that series? I think if Sony was re-enter the JRPG market they would do something more like Mass Effect than Skyrim. Meaning a focus on narrative, not TPS mechanics over sword 'n sorcery. You can sort of imagine London Studio working on something similar too, considering what Eight Days and The Getaway 3 were originally supposed to be...

If all else fails, at least we already know that Level-5 is working on a PS4 exclusive RPG.

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Sunday, December 22, 2013 @ 2:37:17 AM

that definitely would be nice.
im really starting to miss the good old days of the adventure game.
things like the old digemon games, or even ledgends of grimrock.
its a shame that RPGs have dwindled down into such a basic simplified formula like skyrim.
we need to go back to the good old days where adventure games were set on exactly that, the adventure, the journey you take, and not about the scenery like what skyrim is.
or even the witcher series, one of my favorite franchises, but it still does not capture the essance of what a adventure games all about!
its such a shame that such a popular amazing genre, has dwindled down, to what, one franchise?
zeldas really the only series alive that carries the torch for the adventure genre.
such a shame.

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Sunday, December 22, 2013 @ 4:01:11 AM

The only problem with your article is the fact that when Sony brings RPGs to its systems, they hardly get the attention or sales they deserve.

The Tales, Soul Sacrifice, Demon's Souls, Atelier, Persona, Disgaea, and many other game series have gone mostly unappreciated by the masses this past generation.

What motivation does Sony have to dedicate a studio to making RPGs when their efforts at bringing exclusive RPGs to their consoles continue to go largely unappreciated?

Don't get me wrong, I'd love to see it happen.

Hell, if I was in charge at Sony, I would set up two studios, one exclusively for JRPGs, and one exclusively for western RPGs.

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Sunday, December 22, 2013 @ 7:32:59 AM

Those are all very niche, I think the motivation to bring a top notch RPG to the mainstream would be found in the sales that come with another beloved exclusive franchise. If Sony had something to compete with Fable I think they would see similar sales figures out of it.

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Sunday, December 22, 2013 @ 4:37:50 PM

To be fair, Ben was mostly talking about RPG games made by Western devs. The ones you're talking about are JRPG's. And we all know that the glory days of JRPG's are way behind us.

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Lawless SXE
Monday, December 23, 2013 @ 1:28:39 AM

Bonampak, World wrote this one :)

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Sunday, December 22, 2013 @ 8:43:02 AM

Totally agree. I'd love, love, LOVE a Sony exclusive RPG. JRPG, WRPG, whatever. I prefer open world stuff as I can spend many hours exploring. High fantasy, lots of fabulously creative environments, I'd buy it day one.

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Sunday, December 22, 2013 @ 9:51:33 AM

Is it possible that RPG's just really are not that popular anymore and what money they do make cannot justify continued development? Is there room for RPG's to evolve in to something else or more. OR would that sort of change remove them from being RPG's?

I am not a big fan of them and only know of a tiny few people that are.

There must be a reason for their absence.

Keep playing!

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Sunday, December 22, 2013 @ 10:11:23 AM

Good RPGs do very well, Skyrim sold around 16 million across 3 platforms but even just on PS3 it gained 5 million. Mass Effect is also very popular along with Fable. I think a top shelf RPG by Sony that has even just 2 games per generation would gain a huge following. Especially at the start of a generation when RPG fans are just sitting around waiting for their favorite genre to land on the new consoles.

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Sunday, December 22, 2013 @ 2:21:49 PM

Somehow I see Skyrim and even Mass Effect not true RPG games. I could be wrong in that view. They are RPG's evolved, much like what I was talking about. Fallout 3 is in the same league. Each tried to have a balance to cater to a broad audience, which can be good or bad. Good for me I know.

Skyrim is in the same league at GTA for me. It was a decent fantasy game. VERY repetitive missions and environments. I enjoyed it but half way through, I own the LEgendary edition, I had to force myself to finish it. I did leave it for a while but it was tough to restart to continue and finish. Trouble may have been that I had all the DLC at once. I will factor that in.

Keep playing!

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Sunday, December 22, 2013 @ 2:44:24 PM

Personally I'd be totally open to a Sony studio evolving RPGs even further, playing around with the genre. That's what they do best. Not sure if I agree on Skyrim, the massiveness and time requirement seems to scare mainstreamers away. I've never finished an elder scrolls but I do love to put a good 100 hours in em.

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Sunday, December 22, 2013 @ 11:45:33 AM

Personally im not very interested in RPGs i only passed a few like Fallout 3, Mass Effect , buu fury on game boy advanced so im not really interested in them im more into the uncharted type of adventure but i hope they open a studio for that because alot of people love rpgs :)

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Sunday, December 22, 2013 @ 11:56:22 AM

I think you may mean "PlayStation Needs An RPG Studio" because Sony does have a RPG studio: Sony Online Entertainment.

SOE develops (and publishes) a few RPG's: Everquest (& Everquest Next), DC Universe (SOE: Austin), Vanguard: Saga of Heroes. DC Universe is even on PS4!

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Sunday, December 22, 2013 @ 1:50:44 PM

Oh dear. *blows own brains out*

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Sunday, December 22, 2013 @ 12:07:21 PM

I loved Legend of Dragoon, and always wished that they would do a sequel. For now I am just waiting for DA:I.

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Sunday, December 22, 2013 @ 2:47:36 PM

Ya , just want a prequel to Legend of dragoon where the dragon from get a bigger part of the combat .

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Sunday, December 22, 2013 @ 3:30:32 PM

Correction Japanese RPG Studio

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Monday, December 23, 2013 @ 10:37:57 PM

(Begin rage post)

There's more to life than damn JRPGs!!!

There are other genres that exist, and that are damn good!!!

If you want more JRPGs, (which isn't the majority desire by far by gamers) then make one yourself!!!

(End rage post)

There, now I feel better.

Just messing with you, Kiryu. ;P

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Sunday, December 22, 2013 @ 4:05:41 PM

+1, a Sony RPG studio would be awesome :). I don't think it would have helped the PS4's launch much though, as RPGs tend to be on the longer side to develop. Reckon it would be great to see what they could do with the RPG genre though :).

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Sunday, December 22, 2013 @ 9:58:08 PM

yeah i think that could be the ground breaker for sony if they could make a world class RPG then they could really be in a league of their own for games over all and honestly i think some like like a cross between fallout and the elder scrolls would be great i guess i like the bethseda RPG's
s are the only ones that interest me not that the other ones are crap they are alright and but fallout and the elder scrolls take my fancey more.

happy gaming =)

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