Sausage Party

This reference is not from the article we see in the Guardian called ‘Sony announces October release for PlayStation virtual reality headset’ (at http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/mar/15/sony-october-playstation-vr-virtual-reality-headset), it refers to the trailer for a new cartoon, one that is as child friendly as Deadpool is (meaning not child friendly at all), It is the twisted view of food through the cartoon eyes of Seth Rogan (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c7fP9q_LyDc), it is as screwed up as it gets. You see, when I see the approach of a 28 week release of new hardware, I want to see how it applies and more important to which games. After this Keith starts telling us how 230 developers are working on games for the device and ends with the quote “Over 50 titles are expected to be available by the end of 2016“. It is the quote “It will be the quality of the first VR games and applications that will decide whether the technology succeeds” that rings true, even if that is followed with the quote “the next title in the multimillion-selling Gran Turismo series of driving sims“. For Gran Turismo fans of course an immediate reason to get this updated, yet overall the 50 titles as stated for by the end of the year, there is no decent call for what we would call outstanding games. 1 in 50 is not something PlayStation should be proud of. The verge (at http://www.theverge.com/2016/3/15/11225030/new-playstation-games-list-gdc-2016) gave us this list:

  • Allumette
  • Driveclub
  • Gary the Gull
  • Golem
  • Harmonix Music VR
  • Job Simulator
  • Joshua Bell: Immersive Experience (tech demo)
  • Megaton Rainfall
  • Playroom VR
  • Star Wars: Battlefront VR experience
  • SuperHyperCube
  • Thumper
  • Tumble VR
  • Valkrie
  • Waltz of the Wizard
  • Wayward Sky
  • Xing: The Land Beyond

Which, if we add Gran Turismo too is still not something to get joyous on. Other places give us titles like ‘PlayStation VR’s launch line-up looks impressively diverse’, which is after that followed by no titles at all (Source: engadget). Yet, Keith in the Guardian does offer: “Ubisoft, 2K Games and Electronic Arts – the latter has revealed that it will release a PlayStation VR mode for its massively successful shooter Star Wars: Battlefront“. Ubisoft is still on the waning side of life with not the greatest hits at present. Even though the Division seems to present itself a true hit, like Ubisoft used to make them. For me personal, the fact that Elite Dangerous will support to Oculus Rift on the Xbox One is great news and this is the kind of title people who are into those devices would be interested in seeing. The fact that Sony is keeping their distance on several titles is little unsettling to me, but that could just be me. Eurogamer gives us a little more (at http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2016-03-15-heres-230-developers-making-playstation-vr-games), in addition they notice that “Bethesda, Bungie, Epic, Rockstar and Telltale are pretty big names holding out on this PlayStation VR wave“, in my view not an immediate issue. Yet, Eurogamer had more in today’s article. “A special version of Star Wars Battlefront produced by EA, LucasArts and DICE exclusively for PlayStation VR“, this implies that it could be a totally separate product, which would make decently sense in this early stage of a new piece of hardware. In addition we see: “PlayStation VR does not include the PlayStation Camera, which is required for head-tracking. So you may want to tack another £40 or so onto the initial £349 price. (It currently goes for £38.08 on Amazon)“, in all this we see that Eurogamer has the goods that the Guardian failed to deliver, although in honesty, some Eurogamer facts were only known today.

This gets us to the title, is this s sausage party? Is Sony dicking around now? It seems a crass way to state this, but if there are 50 supported titles, the ones we have seen so far (bar 3) do not encourage a $700-$800 investment. I would have thought that Sony had learned from their PS Vita mistakes, or is that PS Vista?

The initial which I hoped for was that No Mans Sky was initially delayed due to the VR interface for No Mans Sky, which would have been an absolute killer combination to own. It turned out to not be the case (that rumour was stated to be false), but I have high hopes for PlayStation VR, even if that inclusion comes after the initial release at the price of a DLC extra. Consider the feeling you as a RPG player will have when you walk through Fallout or Skyrim. The idea to see space like you are really there (Elite Dangerous) or explore No Mans Sky whilst having to look around to see it all is overwhelmingly enticing, likely to gamers all over the world.

There is however opposition, also from within me. Should we switch to VR all the time? No! Of course not. I do not believe that a VR offers an addition to Diablo3. It will give a jump to Minecraft, but I doubt that this feeling will be present when I play something like Need for Speed, Assassins Creed or Tomb Raider for that matter. As we play more games, as we see new innovation in gaming, a VR set will become an essential option for some games. Consider that as the VR evolves, more important as the VR and gaming evolves, we could see the evolution where the controller and our eyes become medium for interaction in a game. Take for example the old arcade Sniper, or the CSI games. There were depending on the mouse to interact, if the mouse pointer changed, we knew there was something. What if we must rely on seeing before we can act? The ultimate Sniper game, if we cannot spot the sniper, we cannot shoot him/her. So as such we get to see an entirely new iteration of Battlefront games. Consider the game Thief. Their brilliant slogan is one thing: ‘What is yours is Mine‘, when it becomes ‘If I see it I’ll take it from you‘, it ups the ante for the player. It would give a new level of player detail. Now in all honesty, I doubt that at present the VR can be the perfect RPG optical device (for now), yet what happens when that changes? What happens when the elder Scrolls gives us the boost that we see what Ogres, Wood Elves or Khajiti see? A new level of gaming, not just for us in general, what if the bedridden child can see abroad, see places they could never visit like they were actually there? This leap is not that far a leap. The simulators like a train or a truck simulator becomes a very different experience when those who cannot go could still experience. You might think of this as a weird side jump, but let’s not forget that for decades gaming was on the edge of technology. Until serious gaming came, hydro cooled graphic cards were not a needed reality, the mouse would not have evolved the way it did and the controller would remain a concept at best.

The VR will open doors and it will open different doors, but for the most it will open doors many did not consider, because there was no need for it. I reckon that the travel idea’s I gave earlier could spawn a new ‘Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego’, a game that has an educational and an analytical side to it. Hugh Jackman did sing it in ‘the  Boy from Oz’, where he sang everything old is new again and that is the truth, because some of the initial ground breakers that gave life to the Commodore 64 could see rejuvenation through the combination of new hardware and new avenues to explore the story that games offered. Elite Dangerous (Elite in those days) will support the headset. Yet what if the VR does not replace, but complement? Consider the legendary X-Com games. What if the screen is for the gameplay and the VR is for tactical base management? There are plenty of other games where that show promise by adding a new dimension. Some will work, some will not, and the more you like a game, the more receptive you are likely to be for the addition if you can afford it (one will hope).

No matter how we twist or turn this event, VR, is becoming a reality and it will impact games, it will impact the future of gaming. So in all that, when we see the start of this new device, it is my personal view that Sony bungled the ball. Even if there are still 28 weeks to go, the absence of a list of given AAA titles means that the ‘real shit’ won’t be getting here until 2017, perhaps even later. Now, all this is still speculation from my side, because there are 25+ titles to be confirmed. However, if you are about to give a show, when you start to give visibility to the new show in town, you advertise No Man’s Sky, Deus Ex Mankind Divided and For Honor, not Gary the Gull, Golem or Driveclub. This could just be me, yet I wonder how many other gamers feel that way?

When the Boy from Oz was done, do you think it would have been the success it was if Rick Astley instead of Hugh Jackman played Peter Allen? This is nothing against Rick Astley, just as I have nothing personal against Driveclub, but we all know that the VR will not make it as a Driveclub option. Yes to Gran Turismo and definitely yes to For Honor, so why is Sony silent on those AAA titles that actually matter?

That is the part that got to me in the Guardian, loads of writing, but lacking the data we all needed to read, like the data Eurogamer gave us. Yet, is this the fault of the Guardian, or is Sony playing the wrong game? That is in the end the question that comes to mind, because 6 months is almost nothing in the gaming industry and the lack of AAA titles is an issue, more important, by keeping the people in the dark, Sony is only cutting its own fingers. You see, the bulk of gamers cannot afford to just shove out $700 that is without a game (or camera for that matter), so plenty of gamers pay it forward and shell over $100 a month so that they are ready to shine with their device on day one of the release. Which is not that appealing at present. On the other hand, it is also likely that Sony would, to keep the books interesting, to show the revenue some bigger bosses need, to lower the price of the device and add the camera for free if they want to look good when Tax year 2016 ends, if not, there will be a larger change in management at Sony, but that again is just speculation on my side. So from my side Sony, I reckon you should not throw a sausage party, leave that to Seth Rogan!

 

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