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For a while now Sony has been trying to compete with Xbox Game Pass, but has been struggling to find good enough games to justify being online only. They’ve slowly been bulking up their library with some prolific games like Borderlands 3 and the lesser loved Marvel’s Avengers game a couple of months ago. These weren’t enough to garner support for the failing service, but if they keep adding quality games they might be able to revive it. So what is PlayStation actually adding to the collection now?
Sony starts off strong with one of the debatably best RPGs of all time: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. TW3 received widespread praise for an engaging story and a jaw-dropping open world with graphics to match, as well as superbly crafted DLC’s that were basically 2 extra games. Now it’s coming to PS Now and it may prove to be a big draw towards the service, especially since the library has been expanded and the price has dropped from $20 a month to only $10.
Another less known, but excellent game coming to PlayStation Now is Slay the Spire, a fast-paced card game with rogue-lite elements. The title gained notoriety for its polish and addicting gameplay loop. It may not draw in as many new subscribers as The Witcher 3, but it might just bring in fans that already love the game.
Next up are three Sonic games, Team Sonic Racing, Sonic Mania, and Sonic Forces. Both Sonic Racing and Mania received very favorable reviews by fans and critics alike. Forces was a bit of a dud but had redeeming moments here and there. Sonic fans are sure to get their money’s worth out of a PlayStation Now subscription. Sonic Team Racing had tight driving mechanics and a fun team-based system full of racing abilities and even a team ultimate move. Sonic Mania was widely praised for its graceful return to form with smooth mechanics and excellent level design.
There are two additional games entering the PS Now catalog. Both Virtua Fighter 5 Ultimate Showdown and Car Mechanic Simulator are making their way into the service’s library. Virtua Fighter is an iconic Japanese fighting series that, like many other fighting games, originally started in arcade cabinets. This game is coming to Playstation Plus and PS Now hot off the presses on June 1st, 2021. Car Mechanic Simulator is relatively unknown, but some subscribers are sure to find enjoyment from the game.
If titles like these keep making their way to PlayStation Now, Sony just might bring the subscription service back to life and even be a viable competitor to Xbox Game Pass. All of these titles are available right away with a subscription to PlayStation Now!
How PlayStation Became One of the “Big Three” Home Consoles
PlayStation’s legacy begins with a father, a daughter, and oddly enough, the Nintendo Famicom. Ken Kutaragi, a Sony executive, was first inspired by watching his daughter play on a Nintendo Famicon, a console released exclusively in Japan. You might think that the inception of the first PlayStation was created to compete with Nintendo, but that wasn’t the case. In fact, Kutaragi and Nintendo began working together. He was almost fired for this, but Sony president Norio Ohga saw his potential and let him continue to work with their now competitor.
Kutaragi showed off a new sound processor that was better than anything Nintendo had and was able to sell them on using it for their SNES system. Later on, Nintendo would try to get Sony to manufacture a CD-ROM add-on. It was titled Play Station.
Shortly after, the relationship would start to crumble as Sony was aggressively trying to obtain full rights over all titles of Play Station titles and music and film software for a different console. This new console would be SNES compatible and include a new CD format called the Super Disc. Sony was trying to enter and dominate a new market. As a result, 1991 would be the last year they worked together.
On the day that Nintendo and Sony were to announce the Play Station, Nintendo harshly “betrayed” Sony at CES 1991. Instead of announcing the new system, Nintendo went on to publicly announce their own partnership with another electronics manufacture, Phillips. There were still some negotiations following CES, but ties were completely cut in 1992 when Kutaragi said that there could never be a deal between the two companies. Kutaragi and company would continue to work on the Play Station at Sony Music. Sony would finally announce its entrance into the gaming world late into 1993. They got rid of the space and called it the PlayStation X to distance themselves further from their initial project with Nintendo.
Now on its own, Sony ran into a wall. They didn’t have anybody in-house with game development experience. They instead utilized third-party development studios to create games for its system. Sony would later gain the support (through negotiations) of almost 300 development teams including big names like Konami and Namco.
A launch day was rapidly approaching now. Kutaragi was satisfied with his efforts to complete his vision of PlayStation, an affordable system with great performance. The console was launched on December 3rd, 1994 in Japan. The PlayStation would go on to receive high praise and excellent sales for its Japan release and the United States release a year later thus engraving the system into gaming history.
Sony went on to release the PlayStation 2, which is still the best-selling console ever. They have released three home consoles since then and have emerged as one of the three names in home consoles. PlayStation has managed to outsell Xbox every single generation and it all started with a man watching his daughter play games on a Nintendo Famicon.
PlayStation Has Made Virtual Reality More Accessible Than Ever
It’s no secret that virtual reality has had somewhat of a bumpy road since its inception. It was met with plenty of heavy criticism for being a “fad” and being all-around difficult to get into. That’s all changed in recent years with companies like Facebook/Oculus developing headsets like the Quest series, but before that PlayStation was creating something extremely accessible on console.
PlayStation released PSVR in 2016 for just $399 with the only prerequisite being that you own a PlayStation 4. Virtual reality on PC had been around for some time at this point, but a PlayStation’s release gave VR to an entirely different market: console gamers. One of VR’s biggest hurdles was the wallet-terrifying prices and the need for a relatively beefy PC to run it on. PSVR took that second part out of the equation and still offered a relatively modest price for the time(not to mention an entirely new experience for console gamers).
Flash forward to 2021 and PSVR still gets brought up when people talk about major virtual reality releases. Why? It’s simply because the launch of PSVR was incredibly successful. As of last year, PSVR has sold over 5 million units. That’s nothing to scoff at, especially given the state of VR during the launch window. PlayStation managed to blow the console market wide open and shockingly were the only ones to do so(as far as consoles go).
Most of the credit for new VR users goes to the Oculus Quest series headsets, and rightfully so, but we shouldn’t discount the fact that PlayStation released something highly accessible a full three years earlier. Sony was able to tap into a previously untouched market of over 114 million console owners worldwide, with 30 million of those residing in the United States.
If you’re wondering why PlayStation’s role in VR is important, it’s because of VR’s history of road bumps and harsh criticism. Many doubters continually argued that virtual reality would always just be too expensive for your “average person” to get into. PlayStation made it clear that the naysayers were wrong. They made it accessible and easy to get. They were able to get 5 million units into people’s homes. PlayStation virtual reality has been one of the biggest driving forces in VR right next to the Oculus Quest and HTC Vive. They were able to prove the critics wrong.
Why Every Game Doesn’t Need to Be Open-World
We’re all familiar with “open-world” being a buzzword in big gaming presentations and it used to be that this phrase was exciting and interesting, especially as we moved on to newer technology. You’ll find that some of the best video games available are games with sprawling maps that are absolutely filled to the brim with side activities and locations to discover. It’s always engrossing and there’s a ton of fun to be had, if it’s done right that is. Breath of the Wild, The Elder Scroll series, and Grand Theft Auto have been huge successes and take up top spots in greatest of all-time lists across the board. In the last decade though, hearing a game is open-world can be sort of a red flag. The market is oversaturated with lackluster and boring games that don’t offer anything but a massive map.
Open-World Games are a Time Stealer
As I’ve gotten older and had less time to enjoy new games, I get more apprehensive about the latest and greatest open-world games. I’m the type of person who has a hard time getting invested in games requiring 30+ hours to complete. Dumping time into a game that turns out to be mediocre is extremely disheartening. That’s one of the biggest problems with games like these: the time investment is too large. That’s not to say that these games are bad, but they just have too much stuff to do. Of course, a high-quality game can definitely make that time spent worth it, but the real issue is an open-world setting combined with a lackluster game.
One of the most prolific gaming disappointments is CyberPunk 2077. Now, I won’t say that the world is lacking, but I had to quit playing it because of the horde of glitches and bugs. CyberPunk isn’t the only game to do this; it was just the latest. That’s a problem. Really, for a good chunk of games, an open world is superfluous and actually serves to take away from the experience. For example, the original Watch_Dogs had a lot of potential. A more intense focus on creating a gripping story instead of an incredibly boring open world could have made for a much better game. The point is that so many games suffer in multiple areas because of such a hard focus on creating a map with a bunch of mileage.
Open-Market Open-World Saturation
One of the problems is that when a game gets the open world right, they frequently knock it out of the park. That means that everyone follows suit and just goes for a barebones version of the same thing and we end up with things like Ghost Recon: Breakpoint and Anthem. After massive successes from other developers, the market has been flooded with new open-world games that don’t hit the mark at all. Every other game you see these days is some open-world game trying to emulate the Elder Scrolls.
I don’t hate open-world games, I just wish there was a higher concentration of great games and that they didn’t push great linear games out of the conversation. Spending a ton of hours on a game that turns out to be not great is disheartening and makes me avoid these types of games more than I’d like.