A few months ago I finally joined the new-generation and splashed out on a PS4, along with Destiny and The Last Of Us Remastered. I’ve played those games a lot, too much perhaps, over the last several months. But I’ve found that with each passing week I’ve been looking over the fence at “the others” with mounting jealousy.
And by “the others” I don’t mean those individuals who chose Microsoft’s gargantuan monolith. I mean the brave, faithful, foresighted folks who signed up to “Next-Gen” early and picked up a Wii U. The clever bastards.
One full year on from the launch of PS4 and XB1, and still the Wii U is the console of choice if what you’re after is amazing, exclusive, unadulterated entertainment.
Whoa whoa whoa! Have you lost your mind? What about all the Sony/Microsoft only blockbuster, AAA, mega-franchise releases that the Wii U will never get? Some might say.
Well, on the face of it that’s a fair point; Destiny, AC:U, Halo: MCC, and Driveclub are all examples of big AAA titles that will never see the light of day on Wii U. And thank God for that, because they’re garbage.
Assassins Creed: Unity is a buggy, greedy little micro-transaction riddled mess. Halo: The Master Chief Collection’s much lauded multiplayer component is inoperable. Driveclub was delayed for almost a year so that they could fix… nothing. And Destiny? Destiny is probably the best first-person shooter ever made, mechanically speaking. But as an overall package, it’s shite. A soul-consuming time-sink of grinding and leveling that leads to nowhere at all.
Of course, I’ve singled out some obvious culprits there, but even of the “good” games on PS4 and XB1, many are just not that good. Far Cry 4 is a good game. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare is a good game. Dragon Age Inquisition is a good game. These are all “good games”. Not great, but “good enough”.
There are some great games of course. GTA V seems to have been received as the best game of the new-gen systems, which is fine, except it’s a rehash of a game that released only 12 months ago on PS3/360. Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor is being heralded as a great game. Which is fantastic, except it’s also available on the previous generation consoles as well.
I shouldn’t imagine that there are many Wii U owners out there thinking, “Man, I wish some of those games had released on Wii U. Mario Kart and Wind Waker are, you know, perfect and all, but I sure wish there were more $99 micro-transactions in them.” Or “Hell, if only this multiplayer actually worked”.
So what’s the point I’m trying to make here, you may well ask? The point is that there seems to be two very different schools of thought about quality control being employed by those that release games for Nintendo and those that release them for Sony’s and Microsoft’s machines.
For Nintendo, the thinking seems to be, “Let’s make sure that the games on Wii U are of the highest quality possible“. While on the other side the thinking is more like, “Let’s make sure that the games on PS4 and XB1 are of the highest quality necessary to ensure sales”. These two approaches are very different, with one of them leading to universally celebrated games like Super Mario 3D World, Super Smash Bros, Mario Kart 8 etc. etc.
The other approach leads to half-assed, shoddy, buggy, greedy, unfinished embarrassments of games flooding the ecosystem, coupled with disingenuous, hyperbolic PR campaigns. Instead of focusing their efforts on bringing amazing gaming experiences to consumers, they spend more time figuring out how to squeeze every single penny they can out of gamers.
And I say disingenuous because there is no way that these companies are oblivious to their products failings. In fact, so acutely aware are they of their shortcomings, that they are fostering a culture of pre-ordering to ensure they get your money simply on promises. This penchant for pre-ordering has become so aggressive recently too, with content being locked out unless you pre-order. I’m all for high quality, reasonably priced DLC that’s been developed after a product has launched, but the current practices are simply disgraceful.
So what can consumers do about it? Well for one, stop pre-ordering games. It’s a symptom of our ‘instant gratification society’ that people simply can’t wait for anything. Will waiting a day or two to read some reviews about a game kill you? But no, you have to have it the instant it’s available, so you pre-order a game from a company that knows you’ll pay for it regardless of the actual quality of the game. And they’ll keep on releasing garbage until people stop throwing money at their feet.
Another thing you can do is buy a Wii U instead, like I wish I’d done. So why did I spring for a PS4 instead of a Wii U then? Three simple reasons. First, I bought into the Sony hype-train about the PS4 being the centre of the gaming universe. Second, most of my friends had, or intended to buy a PS4 and I wanted to make sure I could play online with them. And third, The Wii U is still frustratingly region locked, meaning if I bought one here in Japan, I’d be stuck being only able to play Japanese games.
But in hindsight, I’d trade all the above for the sheer about of fun and satisfaction that would have come from owning Mario Kart, Wind Waker and Super Mario.
For now I’ve dusted off the old PS3, reconnected the spare HDMI cable and am currently downloading the Mass Effect Trilogy as I type this. The PS3 offerings from December’s Instant Game Collection are also the best of the three platforms, meaning that for the foreseeable future, I’m going to be giving PS4 the backseat, while Mario weeps.
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Sebastian has been playing games since the age of 8, cutting his teeth with Nintendo and Sega, and now can usually be found dying repeatedly in online FPS’s. Really, he should just quit. Open world RPG’s and grand strategy games also see him lose his sense of reality for several months of the year. You won’t find him on twitter though since he lives in a cave