Arnold's Press Pause and Rewind: April 8th
I was just thinking, how great it would be if the whole spiel
about a Final Fantasy XIII demo coming soon was real. Think about
it. Six years ago, Sony was in a similar situation they're in
today. The PS3's content is decent, but not great, and everyone's
waiting for those key franchises to debut. What put Sony over the
top for many was the inclusion of the Metal Gear Solid 2 demo
with Zone of Enders. Quite frankly, while I shouldn't say this,
so as to not encourage publishers, that demo of MGS2 was well
worth the $50 for ZOE. Today, we don't have to worry about game
demos being included with average games, not with the PlayStation
Network, at least. Because Sony doesn't cap their file sizes, it
allows publishers to post rather large demos -- the Armored Core
4 demo is nearly 1GB.
Where am I going with this, though? Well, for the first time since November, the gaming community is on its toes again; everyone is excited. The revelation of Grand Theft Auto IV woke up a lot of gamers, and it'd be in Sony's best interests to grab the attention of those gamers. Aside from a price-drop, there's no better way to lure gamers towards a PS3 other than dropping demos that are...you know, not your everyday 3rd party title. In other words, a demo of Final Fantasy XIII would definitely garner a lot of enthusiasm. The Gran Turismo Concept demo proved to be quite a hit for Sony, and the more early sneak peaks the PSN provides, the more attention the PS3 will receive. Demos for Final Fantasy XIII, Metal Gear Solid 4, and an update to GT: Concept should really spark a lot of interest.
Sometimes I feel like Sony is indeed planning something. We've got rumblings of price-drops coming this October and the 20GB PS3 has quietly disappeared off of a number of retailer lists. Then we have this whole ordeal with Sony registering an 80GB PS3? Sony's cooking something, and maybe they're finally ready to start the flames. This holiday season is going to be the most pivotal one for Sony - ever. The PS2's first holiday after launch was a lock - it had GTAIII, MGS2, Devil May Cry, and Final Fantasy X. The launches and aftermath for the GameCube and Xbox were both poor, and the two would never stand to compete.
So now Sony needs to stack their cards for this Holiday season and unleash a barrage. They need a pre-emptive strike by working on having those big name demos released, introducing a price-cut or incentive of some sort, and making sure that their remaining exclusives are AAA in every aspect. Sony's got quite an impressive lineup for this holiday, with not just their 1st party stuff, but 3rd party too. Assuming they can have Gran Turismo 5 out in time for 2007, with MGS4 and possibly even FFXIII, the tables will likely turn in Sony's favor.
With the PSP's price-drop this past week, it's slowly looking like Sony is on the verge of reclaiming their previously held position by rejuvenating the PlayStation brand. A wave of software, including an upcoming Devil May Cry slated to hit 2007, may be exactly what the handhelds needed. An ideal situation for Sony would be to get that Final Fantasy VII remake done on the PSP and PS3, featuring connectivity between both. For instance, you can progress through your game on the PSP, and then pop the memory stick into the PS3 and continue from there on. The only difference between the two would be visuals and audio, clearly - but it's entirely feasible. Heck, the PSP version wouldn't need anything more than the Final Fantasy X engine ported over to the PSP and redesigned. But again, this is just my wishful thinking...if only I was a big-wig executive somewhere.
I foresee some pretty incredible developments for the PS3 in the near future. There are some things I know, and some I don't. And what I know has me impressed, and makes the anticipation for it all absolutely grueling. But that's what being a gamer is all about; you endure the pain of anticipation constantly. Sometimes the wait isn't worth it, but most of the time, the release of a great, big, product reminds you why this industry is so amazing. And even though I say this every f-ing week, I have high hopes for the pending announcements to be made at E3 and those following the show.
4/8/2007 Arnold Katayev