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PS Now’s Success Could Spell Bad News for Fans Wishful of a Backwards Compatible PlayStation 5

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Last week, market research giant Superdata published analytics on Q3 earnings for each publisher, with Sony’s subscription service standing out among the competition. DualShocker’s Steven Santana initially reported on these findings stating that Sony’s PlayStation Now streaming service “constitutes 52% of all subscription-based revenue” amongst EA Access and Xbox Game Pass.

For many individuals, myself included, PlayStation Now services never came across as being more appealing than its competition, leading many to believe that Game Pass provided the better subscription experience. Microsoft’s decision to include all future first-party content on its release date, combined with PS Now’s lackluster streaming quality made this decision a no-brainer for many gamers.

Sony’s determination to improve the experience and possess a contender for best streaming service did not stop the company from slowly improving PS Now since launching in beta in 2014. With PS Now currently offering a 500+ game library, and the recent decision to begin supporting downloading certain titles instead of streaming, many are unsurprised that Sony’s subscription service has taken the crown.

While this is no doubt good news for PlayStation fans in the here and now, these findings could potentially be the writing on the wall for any hope of PlayStation 5 having backwards compatibility. Since launching in 2013, PlayStation has had no means of natively rendering PS3, PS2, and PSX games, on the PS4 without having customers re-purchase a specifically coded version on the PlayStation store. As a contrast, Microsoft’s response to fans looking for nostalgia was to implement an emulation software update within every Xbox One that would overtime allow most Xbox 360 games to be played at will.

The lack of backwards compatibility on the PS4 has not spawned an uproar for the most part of this generation, due to the prominence of physical media during the PS3’s lifecycle. Since the PS4 has launched, however, Sony’s push for digital sales has mirrored the shift within the industry.  The eighth generation of consoles has ushered in a new age of digital gaming, where the majority of gamers are now tolerant of digital purchases.

A multitude of reasons exist as to why digital purchases have become more popular than any generation prior, but that raises more problems than solutions, at least for now. Beginning in the seventh generation with PS3 and Xbox 360, digital purchases offered new and simpler ways for consumers to get their hands on the games they wanted to play. Despite departing from those consoles many years back, the servers remain active for the foreseeable future. Regardless of their current state of activity, the question of what happens to consumer purchases once servers are shut down remains.

The issue surrounding digital purchases is magnified by the increase in popularity of digital gaming and purchases this generation. Gamers are now more willing to spend their money on digital licenses rather than physical products, and Sony has yet to reveal how they will honor those who do so. Microsoft has already committed to both backward and forward compatibility, giving them the upper hand when discussing the future of their ecosystem.

Sony’s lack of backwards compatibility and the potential reluctance of its future implementation will not be the end of PlayStation. Sony Interactive Entertainment has developed a reputation this generation with the PS4, and it will need to take a much larger misstep to send fans packing. Even with such high praise within the gaming industry, however, a lack of respect for digital consumer purchases will leave a stain on Sony’s popularity and the future of the PlayStation ecosystem.

In addition to the news surrounding Sony’s successful streaming service, the company has decided to refrain from E3 2019, marking the first time that one of the first party developers is sitting on the side lines. In a statement provided by Sony, it informed fans that this decision was made with the best interests in mind, as Sony felt that with only a few titles releasing during 2019, it did not have enough content to deliver on.

Fans quickly expressed their disbelief on social media outlets, questioning why Sony believes in a lack of content to show. Titles such as The Last of Us Part II, Death Stranding, and Ghosts of Tsushima, are all first party exclusives that have yet to be released, yet Sony believes that they are not worth showing again. While showing those titles would make for a packed conference, it would also mark another year would pass where Sony has shown them with no release dates being confirmed. As excited as fans were for the Final Fantasy VII remake, many of them prefer to not be shown games that are multiple years away.

By abstaining from E3 2019, Sony has placed itself in a unique position of power. For many years now, discussions take place amongst developers of what significance E3 has left, with most hosting their own conferences throughout the year anyway. With its withdrawal, Sony has given itself an opportunity to host a PlayStation centric conference at some point during the year, separate from PlayStation Experience, and announce the PlayStation 5.

Sony will find success in having its own PS5 press release for two reasons. First, with E3 out of the way, Sony will not have to deal with sharing the spotlight with anyone else, allowing all media coverage to solely drive hype and free marketing for the new console. Second, a standalone conference allows Sony to replicate the success of the PS4 reveal by announcing all of the first party content that has yet to hit PS4 as launch-windowed titles.

Since the launch of the PS4, Sony has had stellar years with multiple successful first-party content releasing in succession. Given the number of studios that Sony has employed, factored with the average amount of time that is required to craft quality product, the first-party release windows would unsurprisingly plateau at some point during the generation. With Microsoft’s recent acquisition of studios all producing content for the distant future, Sony has an opportunity to ease off on first-party exclusives, allocating all resources to ensuring that the PS5 launch surpasses the PS4.

For more coverage on your favorite single player games, as well as new and exciting upcoming releases, stay connected with OnlySP on Facebook and Twitter.

Editorial

Three Single-Player Games to Watch Out for in July 2019

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Three Single Player Games (July 2019) - Sea of Solitude, Fire Emblem Three Houses, Wolfenstein Youngblood

July, the middle of winter down here in Australia. Even in the bizarre New South Wales climate, the biting cold makes for a great excuse to stay inside and play games. 

Weirdly for single players, quite a few prestige games this month include additional co-op modes. With acclaimed designers behind them, such games will hopefully avoid the pitfalls of accommodating multiple players, as too many games have done in the past.

Sea of Solitude

Release Date: July 5, 2019
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One

At first blush, Sea of Solitude looks like yet another story of a young adult struggling with questions of identity and mental health while exploring a beautiful but harsh fantasy world.

Actually, that’s what it is. ‘Quirky, life affirming indie adventure’ is a whole cottage industry these days, but the fact that such games are now more prevalent should never dismay.

Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice was a masterpiece of refined design and storytelling, and Sea of Solitude appears be something similar—this time dealing with a fantastical vision of depression that turns ordinary people into literal monsters.

Players take charge of Kay, who has sought out the eponymous Sea—or rather, a flooded city based on Berlin—in the hope that there is a cure for monstrosity. However, despite its name, she is not the only person in the Sea. Avoiding the other monsters of the Sea seems to be a major part of the gameplay. These tense encounters are likely to provide rhythm and variety to the adventure and keep it from being a just walking simulator. (Not that being a walking simulator is inherently a problem.)

Although published by EA Originals, one would do well to remember that EA the company does not actually profit off the Originals that they publish. With a focused story and themes that still are not often explored in bigger games, Sea of Solitude should be of great interest to single player fans in a month otherwise dominated by multiplayer titles.

 

Fire Emblem: Three Houses

Release Date: July 26, 2019
Platform: Nintendo Switch

Almost certainly the biggest single player release of the month, and tied with Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 as another massive Switch exclusive, Fire Emblem: Three Houses might be exactly what single players need right now.

Lately the Fire Emblem franchise has exploded in both its popular profile and sales success, buoyed by a hunger for both deep anime RPGs and polished tactics games. Three Houses seems to have doubled down on exciting trends and features in both genres: particularly a Persona/Harry Potter inspired magic school setting and an even deeper tactical battle system that ditches the rock-paper-scissors for more nuanced character progression options. As with many Japanese RPGs, the story is also a major focus and hinges upon a time-jump.

The early part casts the player as a teacher at the Officer’s Academy, situated in the center of the game world and attended by students from the three most powerful nations. Five years later, the second and likely larger part concerns the drama between the player’s teacher and their former students, whose nations are now locked in a massive three-way conflict.

As is to be expected for a series finally coming back to consoles after a long time on the 3DS, Three Houses is a massive technical leap over its predecessors. The game boasts better realised battlefields, more detailed armies, and a slick animated style that appears much more consistent compared with the three or four different art styles on the 3DS.

With such improvements, as well as the overall pedigree of the Fire Emblem brand, Three Houses should have no trouble satisfying single player fans looking for a meaty middle-of-the-year RPG.

Wolfenstein: Youngblood

Release Date: July 26, 2019
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One

The recent Wolfenstein revival series is such a remarkable achievement in traditional shooter design and great, if goofy, sci-fi worldbuilding that the co-op focus of this latest instalment is somewhat disappointing.

Yes, as with F.E.A.R. 3 and Dead Space 3, following a well-received second chapter the Wolfenstein series now pivots to a co-operative focused chapter. Though the game is not a mandatory multiplayer experience, combat encounters and puzzles have been redesigned to accommodate the two player mode, giving single players an AI-controlled partner and bullet sponge enemies.

However, all hope is not lost for Wolfenstein: why else would it be the third game on the list? The narrative has been pushed forward in time, as B.J.’s twin daughters are now in their adolescence, now giving players a glimpse at the 1980s of Wolfenstein‘s skewed universe. Additionally, the level design itself is more freeform thanks to development assistance from Arkane, the developers of the Dishonored series.

Will Wolfenstein: Youngblood successfully deliver more of the series’s goofy charm and crazy alternate reality? Almost certainly. On the other hand, will the game be as fun to play alone as in multiplayer? That remains to be seen. Last month’s E3 demo that raised such concerns was naturally only a snapshot of a game in development, so MachineGames and Arkane have had plenty of time to resolve these potential downsides to a co-op focused game.

Those are our three big single player games to look out for this month. Other interesting titles coming soon include Stranger Things 3 on July 4 and Attack on Titan 2 on July 5, both games hitting Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.

On July 12 we will see the sequel to an almost-fantastic Minecraft-like RPG spinoff, Dragon Quest Builders 2 on Switch and PlayStation 4, as well as the Switch port of “anime Monster Hunter”, God Eater 3

The week after, July 19 brings us Switch-exclusive Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order, and at an undetermined time during the month Klei Entertainment’s anticipated survival-sim Oxygen Not Included will finally leave early access on PC.

Have we missed anything that you’re looking forward to? Let us know in the comments below and be sure bookmark OnlySP and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. You can also join the discussion in our community Discord server.

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