Connect with us

Only Speaking Professionally

Only Speaking Professionally | Day One Million

Published

 on

If you caught my Only Speaking Professionally article last week, you might have realised that I am not a big fan of asynchronous global launches. If you didn’t catch my Only Speaking Professionally article last week, the short version is: asynchronous global launches are dumb and should be stopped, also you should read it because I wrote words and they’re there to be read.

Now that you’ve caught up, here are the numbers.

Xbox One sold one million units in the first day of release.

Playstation 4 sold one million units in the first day of release.

Xbox One sold one million units worldwide.

Playstation 4 sold one million units in North America.

These numbers prove two things – one, next generation consoles are extremely popular with consumers, leading to record breaking console launch numbers for both platforms. Two, Playstation 4 is wildly more popular with consumers in North America than the Xbox One. We know this because in North America alone, the PS4 has sold a million units, while its Microsoft competitor has shifted one million units throughout the entire world.

The numbers currently support the idea that the first console to launch will shift more units day one. Most people tend to treat consoles differently to game software. A console is an investment, a long-term dividend. Of those buying consoles, a majority seem to buy one console close to launch and wait a little while before purchasing another, especially with a one week window between launches. After all, nearly a grand is a lot of money to spend on two items in one week for a lot of people. In North America, Sony took the advantage by launching first. Those eager to adopt the latest tech no doubt jumped at the opportunity to experience next-gen gaming and snaffled up the Sony offering, and then deciding to wait on getting an Xbox One due to the expense.

This explains why the disparity between day one sales exists – people already spent their money on a PS4, so they don’t need an Xbox One just yet.

What is interesting, though, is that in the rest of the world, the release dates are flipped. Next week, Playstation 4 releases globally, and I am very much interested in seeing what the figures are for units sold through to consumers day one worldwide for Sony’s new console. Will Xbox One’s week early release globally mean that early adopters have jumped on the Xbox One already? Will people not buy a PS4 because they already have a One?

I don’t know yet, but when the sales figures inevitably get released, I am betting that the PS4 will sell proportionally fewer units compared to the Xbox One in regions other than North America.

I’m not saying the PS4 won’t sell well – it obviously will. But whether the PS4 will sell such an overwhelming majority in comparison to the Xbox One in other countries is a question I really can’t wait to see answered.

I think Sony missed a massive opportunity in failing to release the PS4 simultaneously around the world. I think that if they had, they’d completely dominate the sales charts globally. I think that Sony would have been able to definitively “win” this round of the console wars, just by making its release global.

Of course, one company “winning” the console wars is a bad thing, since it creates a monopoly and stifles creativity and stagnates the market and all that lovely stuff I’ve already ranted about a while back. In my ideal world, both the Xbox One and the PS4 would have released on the same date simultaneously world-wide, and the inherent differences in the consoles (price, performance, features, target market interest) would have distributed the audience in a way that ignores market forces. Much fairer for consumers and both companies. But yeah, that would never ever happen.

Still, one can dream.

I’ll definitely be looking very carefully at the sales trends come next week.

Former Editor in Chief of OnlySP. A guy who writes things about stuff, apparently. Recovering linguist, blue pencil surgeon, and professional bishie sparkler. In between finding the latest news, reviewing PC games, and generally being a grumpy bossyboots, he likes to watch way too much Judge Judy. He perhaps has too much spare time on his hands. Based in Sydney, Australia. Follow him on twitter @lawksland.

Features

Only Speaking Professionally | Teasing Players

Published

 on

Okay this is a bit of a throwback so bear with me, but hindsight helps in these things.

Two months ago there was a little free to play thing released over PSN for PS4. You might have heard of it – it was called P.T.

P.T. was the interactive playable teaser. It was made by a pair of guys, Hideo Kojima and Guillermo Del Toro – you might have heard of them.

Announced and sent out into the wild mysteriously at Gamescom, P.T. was a first person horror experience that saw a nameless protagonist walking down a mysterious hallway where a variety of bizarre and spooky things happened. At first this seemed random. Eventually patterns emerged.

After a not inconsequential amount of time of crowdsourced puzzling about, it was eventually revealed that P.T. was a teaser of sorts for the newest incarnation of the seminal horror series Silent Hill, dubbed Silent Hills.

While YouTube videos of the unlocked trailer were on the interwebs within a day of the demo being released, a lot of other people – myself included – found unlocking the ending of the game somewhat more arduous than would have been preferred.

This was down to an overall obtuseness of puzzle design. The triggers for the ending were unexplained, and even when they were discovered (three baby laughs), their method of triggering themselves were unclear. No method was found to reliably trigger each of the baby laughs in all instances, something that lead to a whole lot of frustration.

While P.T. was an unmitigated horror success, browning the pants of countless people, two things it clearly lacked were fairness and longevity. There was only so many times a person could walk down the same corridor, find the same ghost in one of its handful of spawn points, and then give in and reset the cycle. That, coupled with the seemingly random nature of the final puzzle made the terror go stale very quickly.

Basically, P.T. went on for way too long to keep up the horror act, and soon devolved into base repetitive trial and error lacking internal consistency and logic.

And, for a teaser ARG experience, that gets old.

Remember a few years ago the potato.

Valve’s ARG to tease and release Portal 2 harnessed a whole bunch of brain power. A dedicated team of worldwide geniuses decoded hidden messages in images and sound-bytes, puzzling through a massive amount of data. And then, once the puzzle was solved, we got… potatoes.

The end-game of the potato ARG was to make games generate potatoes to make Portal 2 unlock early. Except maths dictated that the earliest it would unlock would be about four hours before official release. It devolved from intricate logic puzzles and hidden clues to spammy grinding, and it was rubbish.

And now we have P.T. An ARG of sorts that turned from tense, suspenseful, scarily focused horror game to, after about an hour, a spammy random grind. And it was rubbish.

Of course P.T. is one of the most terrifying experiences in games. Of late, and possibly of all time. It’s terrifying. That it devolved into repetitive randomness that completely killed any tension was… sad.

The point is, ARGs need to be enjoyable in and of themselves. They need to be fair. And they need to be logical. If they aren’t, people tend to remember them for their frustrations, rather than their triumphs.

If anything, P.T. showed us that Del Toro and Kojima could create a horror environment. And that it could be gorgeous. And that it could be terrifying. What they didn’t show was that they could sustain it. If their teaser couldn’t prove that then, as a teaser, it can’t be considered a complete success.

P.T. will be a hard act to follow, and a difficult thing to improve on. If Silent Hills manages to fulfil its promise then I will be a happy man. If, however, it misjudges longevity or randomness even slightly, like P.T. did, then Silent Hills will be a massive disappointment.

Continue Reading