2017 has only been around for four months, and the general sentiment is that it’s hit the ground running with a consistent lineup of entertaining games. It’s hard to dispute that sentiment; with titles like Breath of the Wild, Horizon Zero Dawn, and Resident Evil 7 living up to the big hype placed upon them. Still, as great as most of these games ended up being–it’s hard to really say there’s an outright bad one so far, just those that didn’t entirely live up to their ambitions–most of them have been PS4 games, either as an exclusive or ended up performing better on that system as opposed to another.
Last week proved to be an even bigger feather in their cap than usual, as the long awaited Atlus JRPG Persona 5 came out on the current gen console and the originally promised PS3. Naturally, both Persona and Horizon are possibly why the PS4 managed to beat the Xbox One in terms of sales yet again this past March. Nintendo is definitely killing it with both the Switch and Zelda, but by now, the Big N is clearly doing their own thing and this three-way war is really just between Sony and Microsoft. And between the two of them, it definitely looks like the former will dominate the year, at least in terms of games.
A gaming console and the company making it are only as good as the games provided for it. Sony’s track record has largely been consistent over the years, with many agreeing that the PS2 had the most diverse and best lineup of its console generation. (The fact that production for it ended only four years ago speaks to this claim.) PlayStation, in all actuality, may have always had the best lineup of both third and first party titles among the Big Three–they aren’t fully reliable in their own properties like Nintendo, but they’ve got more to brag about than Microsoft. One month, they can shoot out a big first party title, and the next, promote a game of less scale to show everyone how indie friendly that they are. Thanks to how considerably less cagey they are when revealing games as compared to Microsoft, they
The PS4, moreso than its predecessor, has the perfect balance of AAA and smaller scale titles releasing at a consistent rate; for every Uncharted 4, Gravity Rush 2, or Horizon Zero Dawn, there’s an Alienation, Headlander, or a Transistor in the months between those meatier titles. What multiplatform games there are get touted primarily on Sony’s platform, either through timed exclusive DLC (as is the case with Destiny and Call of Duty) or exclusive experiences such as Resident Evil 7 being compatible with PSVR. Or you run into the case where the multiplaform games have the legacy of being associated with the PlayStation brand, as both Resident Evil and the Final Fantasy franchises perfectly show us; neither have bee PS exclusives for quite some time–especially the latter–but that’s where they gained the most popularity. It can’t be denied that Sony at least makes the attempt at having an incredibly robust library across both their home system, its upgraded counterpart, and their VR headset.
Even when their first party games have ended up being duds (here’s looking regrettably at you, The Order: 1886), they still have plenty of others to mitigate the loss and for players to fork their money over. It’s a constant cycle wherein even when they lose, they can turn that into a win in another way. And let’s not downplay the bumbles that Sony and the PS4 have had over the years. Whether it’s the murkiness that is No Man’s Sky, PlayStation Now’s weird handling of the lack of backwards compatibility, or the stumbles that have come with the Pro system like the lack of an Ultra HD Blu-Ray player, the company is clearly not infallible. PlayStation Plus, as beloved as it’s become for handing out free games every month, continuously receives criticism for not putting out just big AAA game month after month, instead giving indie or smaller games than what most would prefer.
Every publisher has an Icarus moment where they fly too close to the sun and end up burning themselves. Nintendo received it with the Wii U’s tepid reception, and Microsoft is receiving it right now with the handling of the Xbox One. Since that console’s announcement and launch, they’ve constantly been on the defensive, and even the recent unveiling of the hardware specs for their upcoming Scorpio has garnered less of a unified response than they anticipated. The thing that Sony has over the distinguished competition is the use of language. If nothing else, Sony’s true strength lies in playing to the audience; the E3 they unveiled more information on the PS4, every word out of the conference felt like a deliberate jab at the poor reception Microsoft’s Xbox One conference got. More so than Microsoft, Sony’s own worst enemy could end up being themselves; they’re notoriously bad at handling their non-console systems, as Vita owners know, and the PSVR has great games, but debatably not the game that fully makes it completely worth owning. But all of that won’t really register as a blip thanks to how the company handles the messaging.
2016 in particular proved to be a boon for Sony and the PS4, with Last Guardian finally reaching the masses, the success of the Ratchet & Clank reboot/remaster, and the legendary Uncharted franchise coming to its official numbered end last May. The big surprise thus far for the years has ended up being that the PS4 showed no signs of slowing down with great releases; Horizon Zero Dawn and Persona 5 have certainly proven to be successful, along with the breakout hit NieR: Automata. Going forward in the year is Naughty Dog taking a victory lap with Uncharted: Lost Legacy, a nostalgia trip with the Crash Bandicoot remaster, and Ninja Theory’s Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice. As the year winds down, we’ll all hopefully be playing the new God of War, Insomniac’s Spider-Man, and Hideo Kojima’s Death Stranding. (There’s also the Final Fantasy VII Remake, should that see the light of day.) And this is just the stuff we definitively know about. Like the merchant in the commercials says, we don’t fully know what’s in store, but given the pedigree established in the last couple of years, it’s safe to say that greatness awaits.