Ben's Week In Review: November 8
Working on reviews for Fallout 4 and Call of Duty: Black Ops III; you'll see them both this week.
Are shooter fans really "shifting" to PlayStation 4?
In the past week, we heard several comments from Sony about how first-person shooter fans seem to be shifting console allegiances; i.e., from Xbox to PlayStation.
First, PlayStation UK marketing boss Lauren Bradley says the shooter audience is "tending to switch" to Sony's console, and then another marketing head honcho, Adam Boyes, called the Sony/Activision Call of Duty partnership "historic." Now, I don't mean to downplay the importance of such a partnership; it is a big deal, but isn't there a very simple explanation for this shift?
Is it about anything more than the fact that Sony has a significant lead in the hardware department this generation, while last generation PS3 struggled against Xbox 360 in the first few years? It's basically a complete role reversal and - surprise, surprise! - the most lucrative games and the most lucrative partnerships move to the console that has the market lead. Activision siding with Sony and PS4 for Destiny? The publisher doing it again for Black Ops III? Sure, why not? Xbox One remains well behind PS4; you can reach that many more users that much faster with timed exclusivity DLC deals, right? And as all shooters these days basically revolve around the social multiplayer aspect, lots of gamers are simply going to buy the version their friends are getting (I've heard this a million times). So, as many of those friends have PS4 as opposed to Xbox One, the results are expected.
I doubt this has anything at all to do with any other factor. I've heard Black Ops III performs better on PS4 and I think I heard something similar about Destiny. We've also seen plenty of multiplats performing a bit better on Sony's console, so I suppose that might have some minor influence. But for the most part, the games are pretty identical across the two consoles and really, it just comes down to user base.
Yes, VR games should have different ratings and different reasons for ratings
It was nice to see Sony acknowledging the possible dangers of virtual reality entertainment, and they're wondering if VR games will require a different rating system. I believe this is inevitable and they should be testing the possible effects on health - especially developmental health, as it pertains to younger individuals - right now. If traditional games required epilepsy and seizure warnings, I'm guessing the warnings would have to be even more stringent for virtual reality. And given the studies that are saying kids should avoid extensive exposure to 3D due to vision issues, one wonders what temporary or even permanent side effects VR can cause. Of course, as is the case with anything else, moderation is key; I doubt VR will cause any significant damage if someone uses it occasionally and for only an hour or so at a time.
But if there's one thing humanity has proven, it's that they haven't the slightest clue what "moderation" is. That's why new ratings, with the aid of in-depth studies and feedback from both physical and mental health professionals, should be in the works right now for VR entertainment of all kinds.
Personal gaming update
As you might expect, it's all about Fallout 4 and Black Ops III. I'm not going to say too much about the Fallout 4 graphics controversy; I can say it's not exactly the best-looking open-world game I've ever seen, but I think everybody already knew that. I'll save further analysis for the review. As a side note, I'm actually really surprised about that Lynda Carter news. If you haven't already, click through to the Bethesda blog and listen to her "Good Neighbor" song; it's just so good. I'm not quite old enough to have been a fan of "Wonder Woman" back in the '70s but I certainly knew who she was, and I did not know she had a Grammy-winning band that frequently tours. Anyway, it's certainly a nice addition and the game's music does excel.
Need for Speed isn't bad at all (please stop interpreting mid-7 scores as "bad"). It's actually a lot of fun but the constantly connected requirement and rubber-band AI really got to me. I just want to get back to Assassin's Creed Syndicate ASAP. Speaking of which, if you want both Syndicate and NFS for free, don't forget to participate in the new giveaway.
11/7/2015 Ben Dutka