Starhawk. Twisted Metal (2012). LittleBigPlanet PS Vita. PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale. Resistance 3. The Unfinished Swan. Sound Shapes. Dyad. MotorStorm: Apocalypse – How many of these games did you pick up and play? Did you play all of them? One? Two? A few? None? That’s just a short list of recent PlayStation exclusive games that went under the radar for a lot of gamers. These were games that were overshadowed by releases of other big titles. These were titles that received bad reps from unfinished products (betas). These were titles that received little to no marketing. Most of the games received pretty high praise from a lot of critics. Still, for one reason or another gamers chose to bypass them. Others simply never knew they existed. How can we prevent this from happening? Can we? My hope is that the PlayStation 4 will change this trend.
Back to my question: How many of those games, that I initially named, did you pick up and play? If it was very few or none, why? I have spoken with a few fellow gamers after I posed the same question to them and essentially got the same answers from all of them. Some of the games they never heard of. Other games, they heard of the bad reputation due to a beta or game review and lost interest. Others had huge misconceptions about what the games were actually about. Still more said that they wanted to try the game first before they bought it – Which is a catch 22 for a lot of games since they have no demos. While this is a debate for another time, let’s make this clear, betas are not demos.
Enter the PS4 – Although we are still in the preliminary stages of gathering information on the next-gen system from Sony, there are some details that we have which shine light on a possible chance for better game penetration. The keys to this success come with the PS4 features Sony highlighted such as the “Share” button, Gaikai, and the social integration of the system.
One of the huge features of the PS4 is the new PlayStation Network, powered by Gaikai. The initiative is – with this network, gamers will have access to the full library of PS4 games. Not only will we be able to purchase and download games to our PS4, but we’ll be able to try each and every PS4 game before we buy it. That’s right, for free. Now my understanding is, this isn’t going to be limited demos but rather the full product that gamers will be able to try for free. The fact that the PS4 is promising instant play doesn’t hurt either. Now gamers wont have the excuse that there was no demo, the beta was bad, or they didn’t really know what they game was about because now they have the opportunity to play the product for their selves.
Now what about games we haven’t heard of? Or maybe one that might be good, but didn’t quite catch our eye? With the PS4’s share and social functions, word of mouth can have a great influence here. Most of us have at least one friend on our buddy lists who plays all of the games, big and small. The guy (or girl) who played a game that we didn’t and can’t stop talking about it. Maybe you are that person. I know I have been that guy more than a few times. Unfortunately, just talking about a game isn’t enough. I have had to physically take my games over to friends homes, sit down and play games with them, before they had any appreciation for the titles. How much easier it will be with the PS4 when we can simply press a “share” button, send them the download link for the game trial, a gameplay video, screens, and more.
On that same note, similar to the PS Vita, the PS4 will have [what I assume will be optional] functions that let your buddies know your activities. If you purchase a game, they’ll know about it. This helps give exposure for a game that might otherwise be unnoticed by the masses.
My hope is that some of these features will help gamers to try out and possibly purchase games that they wouldn’t otherwise. Now that there are trials, a player can get into the game and want to continue it. They may be more inclined to purchase the download, or go out and pick up a physical copy after playing the finished product. With the share function, games that might have gone unnoticed by others now have the opportunity to get their time in the light – Will this give birth to viral games on consoles?
Now of course, there are other factors that need to be considered: How games and systems are priced will have a large influence on sales. The install base of the console has to be sufficient enough; Sony still has to do its part in marketing. We as gamers will have to take the initiative to support the developers by at least trying the trial of the full games. In addition, we’re still all individuals with various likes and dislikes. Just because one or a few of us might like a game doesn’t mean that everyone else will.
With that said, I’m optimistic about the long-term future that the PS4 has ahead of it. My hope is that other systems implement similar features too. We’ll see how it plays out. Now it’s your time to discuss your thoughts. If you had the chance to play a game before you purchased it, would your decision to purchase (or not purchase) a game be influenced by that game trial? Do you think the PS4’s features will help improve the adoption rate, penetration, and sales of games? Why or why not? Sound off in the comments below!