PS+ Giveth, PS+ Taketh Away


PS+ users are finally getting the hard hitting month of games they’ve been waiting for. Throughout March of 2018, people will have access to Bloodborne (PS4), Ratchet and Clank (PS4), Legend of Kay (PS3), Might No. 9 (PS3 with PS4 crossbuy), Claire: Extended Cut (Vita and PS4 crossbuy), and Bombing Busters (Vita and PS4 crossbuy).

People have pined for amazing AAA blockbusters to enter the program on PS4 for some time, and now their wait is finally over. There’s a caveat to this announcement, though, and it’s that the Vita and PS3 will no longer be part of the free games portion of PS+ as of March 8, 2019.

There’s a variety of takes on this across the internet, and many of them are predictably hyperbolic. Daniel Ahmad (@ZhugeEX), a respected member of the online gaming community, stated: “Sony sacrificing the PS3 and PS Vita so we can get good games on PS Plus again.” I think that’s probably part of their plan, but no, this wasn’t a move ‘for the gamers’, as Sony so often leads us to believe.

I don’t think anybody expected that the PS3 and PS Vita would get ‘free’ games forever. At some point, it’s no longer financially viable for a company to pay developers and publishers large sums of money to feature games on platforms that people have long since moved on from. We’re well past the halfway point of the PS4’s life cycle (we won’t be waiting another 5 years before the PS5 is released), and with over 70 million consoles out there (as of December of 2017), people are spending less time on last generation machines than ever before. So, why continue to support those old fossils with ‘free games’? This was going to happen sometime, and ‘now’ seems about right.

But there is another issue, here. Each platform had two free games each month, and sure, if you no longer play on the Vita or PS3, you probably don’t care about losing games on those platforms. However, many of the titles on those platforms were crossbuy, so PS4 users probably got about 4 games they could add to their digital library each month. Sony have clarified that in the Vita’s and PS3’s absence, the PS4 will still only receive two games each month. So, people are going to have access to fewer games each month.

And they’re excited about that?

Well, it certainly helps that Sony has dangled a pretty attractive carrot at the time of this announcement. “Who cares about losing the number of games you get each month?” They ask. “When you can have games like Bloodborne and Ratchet and Clank, that’s all you need!”

No wonder people are excited.

To be fair, Bloodborne is, in my opinion, the best game the PS4 has to offer. The fact that everyone with a PS+ membership can enjoy it now is great, but I’m wary about taking this as a sign of things to come. Sony have pulled bait and switch routines before. In case anyone has forgotten, Driveclub was supposed to be free to all membership holders, but that’s not exactly how things went down.

But let’s say that the PS4 will see a regular trickle of solid AAA games from here on out. Are they really spending that much more to get the likes of Bloodborne on PS+? No, it’s not like they’re paying off an independent developer so their game will debut on the platform day and date for the low cost of nothing. Bloodborne has been out for ages now, and most of the people who were interested in spending money on it already have it. So, now they can hook a bunch more people that may potentially buy the game’s DLC (as will the developer). After all is said and done, I’d wager Sony are probably going to SAVE money… at least, until the PS5 comes out.

Business is business, and that’s fine, but I think it’s important for gamers to have a realistic view of what’s really happening when a company delivers bad news from one hand while holding something shiny in the other.


The Illusion of Choice


Unless I’m misreading how people feel about the gaming industry’s economic climate, they’re sick to death of microtransactions and DLC. However, instead of rallying against these business models, folks are opening their wallets, and I can’t for the life of me understand why they’re not seeing the forest through the trees. The average consumer should be ashamed of how often they’ve fallen for the carrot-on-a-stick routine… but I guess from their perspective, ignorance is bliss. While that’s okay for some, I’m the kind of guy that would rather be bummed by knowledge than be oblivious to what’s going on. But unfortunately, consumer complacency reigns supreme, and some recent headlines have brought to light a new business model which hopes to further exploit that. And what is it? The illusion of choice.

First, let’s talk about Sony.

They’re taking a proactive approach to consumer grumblings. Instead of allowing minor complaints to fester into nasty headlines, they’re finding creative ways to appease their audience. That said, Sony’s peace offerings have been rather inadequate.

PS+ has changed a great deal since the initial launch, but much of the good will it’s garnered comes from a single perk: ‘Free’ AAA games. We’re talking Infamous 2, Bioshock Infinite, Demon’s Souls, Uncharted 3, Shadow of the Colossus, Batman: Arkham Asylum, Dead Space 3, and the list goes on.

Have gamers been spoiled? Perhaps, but Sony implemented this strategy to combat the multiplayer paywall known as Xbox Live. But that’s lost on them nowadays. They, too, have shackled multiplayer behind the bars of subscription fees, and those ‘free’ titles have devolved into an eighth generation indie-thon. Not that indie titles are bad, but it’s not what PS+ subscribers have been conditioned to expect.

I don’t think anybody expected Sony to give us retail games in the PS4’s first year. If they did, they were naive and just looking for a reason to bitch. Why would they cannibalize sales just to satisfy a few loose-lipped idiots on the net? But now after two years in this generation, we have yet to see so much as a launch title on the program. Are Killzone and Knack REALLY still selling enough copies to warrant their exclusion from PS+? I doubt it. Hell, even Microsoft – who, by the way, are still losing money per console sold (once taking research, development, and marketing into consideration) – have given Gold subscribers Tomb Raider and Rayman Legends. So, what gives?

This means the value of PS+ is plummeting, regardless of whether consumers care to perceive it that way or not. The promise behind this program, specifically in regards to the Playstation 4, was to strengthen both their servers and quality of ‘free’ content, while enhancing their community-based features.

I’d argue they haven’t done that.

Their servers are weaker than their (direct) competition. The quality of ‘free’ games have gone downhill. Their community-based features are nearly non-existent… unless you count clicking the ‘thumbs up’ button on a game or app a ‘community feature’.

And little by little, people have taken notice. So, Sony have invited PS+ subscribers to collectively vote for one of three indie titles… which is smart. VERY smart. When you give your customers the power of choice, they feel appreciated and shower you with good will. But in the business world, very few – if any – decisions are made with our best interest in mind. This vote was manufactured to extract good will, and more importantly, make people forget the ‘where’s our AAA’ discussion. And unfortunately, if the comments I’ve seen can act as a decent barometer, it worked. People don’t get that this was a diversionary tactic. They’d rather believe Sony are gracious and altruistic.


The next headline that fits in with this ‘illusion of choice’ theme, is the recently unveiled Deus Ex: Mankind Divided ‘Augment Your Pre-Order’ program.

Pre-order exclusives have plagued this industry for a long time. Publishers have held content for ransom unless you’ve promised to buy their products sight unseen, and when you do, you’re STILL missing out because of retailer specific pre-order exclusives. “Buy it in advance, FROM US, or fuck you.” That’s the gist.

How much worse could it possibly get?

How about Kickstarter-inspired reward tiers based on pre-order numbers? The more people that pre-order, the more content they’ll get! Isn’t that GREAT?!

So, let’s break down why this sucks major donkey dick:

Kickstarter is meant to fund projects that wouldn’t exist without some financial help. But Square Enix and Eidos Montreal aren’t doing this to bring a passion project to life, but to sucker people into a ‘buy before you try’ agreement.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a loyal fan of the franchise, either. If enough people don’t pre-order, these companies are basically going to punish you and say, “Too bad, so sad. You should have told all your friends to pre-order, too.”

Now, pre-order DLC usually consists of cosmetic items, but the third tier for Mankind Divided features an in-game mission.

Last but certainly not least, three of the five tiers force you to choose between one piece of content over another. That means there’s no possible way to acquire all the extra goodies in the ‘Augment Your Pre-Order’ program… unless you feel like buying multiple copies..

Of course, the whole idea of ‘Augment Your Pre-Order’ isn’t meant to make you feel like you’re being raped by the anal splitting cock of a minotaur. No, it’s supposed to make you feel like you’re in control of your own destiny.

Well, whoopy-fuckin’-doo.

All gamers really want is to get a complete game at the complete price. But is there an option for that? Of course there isn’t. And why? Because ‘fuck you’. That’s why.

The ‘choose your own rewards’ mantra, much like ‘vote for your next PS+ game’, is little more than marketing bullshit to make you forget how hard you’re being screwed. I sincerely hope consumers are wise enough to tell Square Enix and Eidos Montreal to shove it up their ass. If that message isn’t delivered loud-and-clear, make no doubt about it: We WILL see more of this. A LOT more.

A POS Still Doesn’t Deserve DDoS



Over the holidays, I had a pretty decent time with gaming. I plowed through The Witcher 2 (Xbox 360), and thanks to my acquisition of the Retron 5, I’ve also been able to get my fill of nostalgic retro goodness. That said, not everyone had such an enjoyable experience in the last week of December. No, both Xbox Live and PSN suffered from a bit of downtime, but one service took a much greater hit than the other.

Care to guess which?

I checked Twitter on Christmas Eve, only to be greeted by a massive text-wall of confusion. People were tweaking because they couldn’t log in to PSN, and it wasn’t long before Xbox Live subscribers echoed similar complaints. Of course, any time there’s so much as a hint of service interruption nowadays, the collective knee-jerk reaction is to assume it’s been caused by DDoS attacks.

While 2014 was undoubtedly the year such attacks have attained widespread awareness, I’ve been careful not to make assumptions based on internet rumblings. Don’t get me wrong: I know we’ve been directly affected by these attacks on multiple occasions, and there were probably numerous others we weren’t affected by… but I can’t help but question the pattern I’ve noticed on social media.

These attackers almost never make preemptive threats. No, instead, we see a network go down, and when a bunch of people on Twitter begin to question why, THAT’S when someone steps up and says, “Oh yeah, dawgz, that was us!!!11!!!!1!1!” At this point, a number of so-called hackers will attempt to take credit for the same attacks… you know, to prove who has the biggest wiener. So, you’ll have to excuse me for not believing every 12 year old on the net who claims to be the cause of a service outage.

And by the way, I said ‘so-called hackers’ because regardless of how much power they want us to THINK they have, it’s little more than a ruse. You see, nothing is actually hacked in a DDoS. In fact, the words behind the acronym tell us as much: Distributed Denial of Service. It’s an attack that’s designed to create a bottleneck which keeps legitimate traffic from getting through. It’s a major friggin’ annoyance, yes, but certainly not a hack.

Anyway, the ‘attack now, take credit later’ pattern I noted was actually broken in early December. Yes, weeks before the jolly fat man in red suede was set to violate our chimneys, a group – who I refuse to name, lest I give them the attention they crave – threatened to take Xbox Live down on Christmas… FOREVER. With this in mind, I remained vigilant in my skepticism. I mean, you don’t have to be Nostradamus to predict both Xbox Live and PSN would suffer outages on Christmas, do you?

Tons of new consoles would connect to their respective service for the first time. The millions who already own these machines would log in to play their new games. The end result was practically written on the wall.

So, when I noticed both PSN and Xbox Live were straight noping-out on Christmas Eve, I thought, “It’s a tad early for this to happen… but maybe not. A lot of people celebrate with one side of their family on the 24th.” Of course, it wasn’t long before ‘they who shall not be named’ hopped on Twitter to take credit for the down time. Still, I wanted to see how things played out before reaching any conclusions.

Well, Xbox Live came back in just under half a day, albeit with some restrictions… but PSN? Down for DAYS. After a good long while, Sony finally stated their network was suffering from a service disruption attack. With confirmation of DDoS attacks straight from the source, I could finally begin to assess the situation.

First and foremost, why disrupt these services in the first place?

One motive was to deter people from ignoring their families on Christmas… but, uh, that doesn’t really explain the various other attacks throughout the entirety of 2014.

No, their primary motivation was to expose the lack of security put forth by Microsoft and Sony. After all, these companies are charging $50+ a year for access to multiplayer. ‘They’ didn’t believe these companies were utilizing our money to enhance security. So, they’ve chosen to ‘enlighten’ consumers by crippling Xbox Live and PSN, the message being, “It was easy for us to take these services down, and that should concern you. You’re not getting what you think you’re paying for. Stop giving in to these greedy corporations!”

This line of reasoning sounds fine on paper, but is flat out STUPID in reality. The only surefire ‘cure’ against a DDoS is to have unlimited bandwidth, and needless to say, that’s just not possible. Money can be spent on better mitigation, yes, but that’s about it. The only real problem here are the idiots doing this from their basements for little more than shits and giggles…

…Or is it?

This fiasco DID expose one company as being far less prepared to mitigate attacks than the other: Sony.

It was difficult to bitch about down time on the PS3. After all the service was free, so you weren’t actually losing anything. But with the PS4, Sony decided to throw multiplayer behind the PS+ pay wall, with the promise they’d use that money to better the network.

In an interview with

Yoshida explained the move was necessary to maintain a high quality service and facilitate improvements and expansions.

“That’s (was) a big decision,” he said. “what we internally discussed and decided is that we will continue the free access to online play on PS3 and Vita, so that’s clear. But because on PS4 the online connectivity features such as second screen, auto downloads and share features – these are one big pillar of the PS4 experience and we will continue to invest in this area to expand and improve these online features and services.

“If we keep giving away online access for free, the natural pressure is that we have to cut down on the cost to provide this free service. But that’s conflicting with our goal of being able to provide very robust and great online services going forward. So we decided that on PS4, because we want to continue to invest and improve our new services, we’ve asked the most engaged consumers in the online activities to share the burden with us so that we can continue to invest.”

Well, they’re not living up to their end of the bargain.

So how are Sony planning to make amends with their customers? What would their peace offering be? A five day extension for PS+ members, and a ‘10% off anything on PSN’ coupon.

I’m sorry, but that’s just not good enough. PSN was down quite a bit last year. I know, I know. It seems like ancient history, right? But honestly, PSN’s lack of stability has been in question throughout most of 2014, especially after the significant DDoS attack in August. You’d think Sony would have said, “Woah, we need to figure this shit out, and pronto!” But, no. To be fair, both networks are still having issues, but the stark contrast between Xbox Live’s and PSN’s recovery time should be telling.

I won’t apologize if this sounds like hyperbole, but Sony clearly doesn’t care. They’ve suckered millions – including myself – into getting PS+… and then nothing. Just a bunch of blanket PR statements like, “Gee guys, sorry. We’re looking into it. Thank you for your patience and continued support.”

Clearly, all they care about is making money, because while PSN suffers, Sony have decided to invest in a new revenue generating service… and guess who’s footing the bill? Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the company that’s allegedly ‘for the players’ would rather spend our cash on a glorified rental service – a pricey one, at that – instead of improving the one we, the loyal players, have spent our money to support. Oh, and if that wasn’t a big enough kick in the teeth for our ‘loyalty’, guess what else? PS Now will also be available on NON-Sony devices in 2015.

For the players, indeed.

With each passing month, Sony manages to rank higher on my anti-consumer shit list. But let me be clear: While I believe they’re a terrible company, that in no way means I believe they ‘got what was coming to them’. It’s nice to FINALLY see a bit of awareness in regards to Sony’s terrible service, but the end doesn’t justify the means. Not one bit.

So what’s the answer? I just said it: Awareness. Hacker wannabes can pretend they’re doing right by us all day long, but their ultimate failure is taking away the most powerful tool that we, as consumers, have at our disposal: Choice. It’s as the old saying goes: You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. Similarly, gamers need to be armed with knowledge that will allow them to make informed decisions… NOT shuffled around like pawns on a Chess board.

In the end, that’s what these DDoS attacks are all about; change via force, and that’s a major copout. Sony obviously have some MAJOR security issues to iron out – again, better DDoS mitigation is required, and it’s scary to think they’re STILL experiencing major security breaches (think of the month they had to shut PSN down a few years ago, as well as alleged retaliation from North Korea over ‘The Interview’) – but retaliation is NEVER the answer. Who does it help, really? Did it help the people who spent $50, or more, for their PS+ or Xbox Live memberships? Did it help the families who spent hundreds of dollars on a new console for their children? Did it help the families of Sony and Microsoft employees who were undoubtedly called back in to work? Of course not.

The attackers weren’t wise enough to know that forcing ideologies on people rarely works, and when it does, history is doomed to repeat itself. The only way to institute change is through knowledge, meaning we have to keep our eyes, ears, mouths, and minds OPEN. Read articles. Talk with friends. Participate in message board discussions. Every little bit helps, you know? It’s obviously easier to default to the ‘one person can’t make a change’ mentality, but if I believed that were true, Byte-Size Impressions wouldn’t exist. I challenge gamers to keep fighting the good fight. It’s an uphill battle, yes, but not impossible.

Opinion-Bytes: Sony’s Driveflub


I remember the day that Sony announced the Playstation 4, and vividly, at that.  They came out with a consumer friendly machine, $100 less than the competition at that, and… say whaaaa?!  They slipped multiplayer behind a PSPlus pay wall?  Sighs.  I wasn’t happy about being bent over a barrel, so to speak, but I didn’t feel I had much choice but to sit there, hope Sony’s ‘entry’ would be gentle, and take it.  I wasn’t going into the next generation of gaming without multiplayer.  I just wasn’t… and they knew it.  Ah well.  At least they promised to use that additional revenue to improve the service.

In an interview with

Yoshida explained the move was necessary to maintain a high quality service and facilitate improvements and expansions.
“That’s (was) a big decision,” he said. “what we internally discussed and decided is that we will continue the free access to online play on PS3 and Vita, so that’s clear. But because on PS4 the online connectivity features such as second screen, auto downloads and share features – these are one big pillar of the PS4 experience and we will continue to invest in this area to expand and improve these online features and services.
“If we keep giving away online access for free, the natural pressure is that we have to cut down on the cost to provide this free service. But that’s conflicting with our goal of being able to provide very robust and great online services going forward. So we decided that on PS4, because we want to continue to invest and improve our new services, we’ve asked the most engaged consumers in the online activities to share the burden with us so that we can continue to invest.”

Unfortunately, PSN is still very much the quirky experience that was provided on the PS3.  It seems to work more often than not, but more and more, we’re seeing the service go down for one reason or another.  Of course, these minor interruptions were somewhat acceptable on the PS3.  After all, multiplayer was free, and in a way, something of a privilege.  People are PAYING for this service on the PS4 though, so it’s no longer a privilege.  No, customers pay for it, and when customers pay for something, they expect it to work.

And it’s not as if Sony can just say, “Well, that’s multiplayer for you!  Anything can go wrong at any time.  It’s the nature of the beast!”  They can’t say that because Microsoft’s service is, and always has been much more stable.  A lot of people like to say, “Well, yeah, because Microsoft is a software company.”  Does that really matter, though?  If you provide a paid service, it needs to work.  Constantly.  It doesn’t matter if said service comes from a staff of 3 or 3,000… people will settle for nothing less than consistency.

Anyway, even though Sony had everyone by the brass with their pay wall shenanigans, they wanted to ensure the masses saw this as ‘value’ instead of extortion.  So, they got out the ol’ stick, tied a carrot to the end of it, and dangled it where everyone could see:  Evolution Studios were going to provide their next AAA driver to PS+ subscribers free of cost… well, most of it.  ‘Rushy’, a developer with Evolution, had this to say on NeoGaf:

Rushy’s NeoGaf post

“You can earn the platinum trophy in the PS+ Edition, remember its the full game minus a few cars/tracks.”

Of course, the game was delayed, and it’s been a sore spot with the gaming community ever since.  Certain people went a little overboard with their ‘give me free stuff now’ attitude, but there’s no sense in blaming consumers for feeling duped.  I mean, Sony and Evolution worked together in SOME capacity to soften the blow of PS+ as a pay wall… and then the game wasn’t ready.  More than that, there were some pretty egregious PR blunders that followed.

One such example was the digital upgrade fiasco.  Via Twitter, Joshua Hood (@joshlhood) asked Shuhei Yoshida – President of Sony Computer Entertainment – “(would there) be a discounted package to upgrade to the full game?”  Yoshida confirmed this would be the case, and sure enough, news broke that a digital upgrade would cost $50 instead of the usual $60… but according to the official Playstation blog:

Playstation Blog:

“This will give you access to all five locations, 55 tracks, 50 cars and all 50 tour events, as long as your PlayStation Plus subscription remains active.”

That’s right.  If you were to opt for a slightly discounted version of Driveclub, it would only remain playable as long as your PS+ account was active.  Keep in mind that discounts via PS+ have NEVER worked this way.  Once you buy a game, you own it.  Period.  Fortunately, gamers told Sony and Evolution ‘no thanks’ and the issue was resolved.

But wait, there’s more:

2-panel-its-free-l “One of the recurring questions we keep seeing is about the scale of the Playstation Plus Edition.  The simple answer is that with an active Playstation Plus subscription, you can download Driveclub Playstation Plus Edition, which comes with one location (India), 11 tracks, 10 cars and access to all game modes.

11 tracks and 10 cars?  Does that even come close to Rushy’s promise of ‘the full game minus a few cars/tracks’?  44 tracks and 40 cars… that’s how much the PS+ edition is leaving off the table.  I know some of you are probably saying, “Look, regardless of how much content you’re getting, it’s free.  How can anyone complain about something they’re getting for ‘free’?”  Again – and I hate to sound like a broken record here – this goes back to the idea that ‘free Driveclub’ was used to soften the blow of Sony locking multiplayer behind subscriptions.  Regardless of intent, this whole thing turned out to be little more than a terrible case of bait-and-switch.  Let’s break it down:

Sony locks multiplayer behind a pay wall, but uses Driveclub as an added incentive for joining PS+.  Millions of people purchased the PS4 and a PS+ sub to go with it… and then Sony and Evolution said, “Sorry, did we say free game?  What we MEANT was you’d receive a glorified demo…”

But wait, there’s even more:

On October 7th, Driveclub finally saw its launch after a nearly year-long delay.  Unfortunately, the multiplayer component – the very crux of the game – just wasn’t working.  There were intermittent connection issues which only intensified as time went on.  As a result, the PS+ edition of Driveclub was canceled ‘indefinitely’.  A number of people tried to justify this as day 1 multiplayer woes – which shouldn’t be ‘a thing’, let alone an expectation – but something was clearly amiss when things didn’t get better on days 2, 3, 4, and so on.

Oh, and customers for a refund from Sony were flat-out denied.  “Hi, Sony.  I bought Driveclub the other day, but it’s defective and the devs have no clue how long it’s going to take before these issues are resolved.  I’d like a refund so I can purchase a different game that works.”  In what universe is it okay for Sony to say, “Nope, sorry.  No refunds.”?

On October 12th via Twitter, Rushy (@Rushy33) broke the silence to respond to some inquiries:

“We’ve got no limits to the amount of servers or the quality of hardware, it’s purely down to server code having bugs.”  In regards to some sort of compensation, his only response was, “We’re considering all of our options right now.”  It was later clarified that early adopters could receive (some) free DLC, but resolving their server bug(s) is, obviously, their current priority.

I think it’s safe to call this the worst next-gen game launch since Battlefield 4.  I also can’t help but wonder if people behind-the-scenes knew about these issues beforehand.  I mean, between the retail release and the free PS+ version, they should have anticipated MILLIONS of people raking their servers over the coals… and yet, they couldn’t even accommodate their paying customers?  As of this writing – October 15th – the game still isn’t 100%, and there’s no answer as to when the game will be fixed or when people can expect to play the (gimped) PS+ edition.

But in a way, I’m glad this happened.  Not because I hate Sony or anything nefarious like that.  I actually own both an Xbox One and PS4, and for obvious reasons, Sony’s black box is my primary gaming machine.  That said, I’ve been saying for MONTHS how Sony have done virtually nothing to keep getting, or even maintain the amount of good will they had before their console launched last November.  We’re still missing certain features that were promised at the time of its reveal, they haven’t done much in the way of optimizing their multiplayer service, and this ‘Driveflub’ is just another mark on a long list of promises that haven’t been met… and people are finally coming around.  THAT’S why I’m glad this happened.

And just to speculate a little, I wouldn’t put it past Sony to tell Evolution Studios, “Guys, you’re not going to delay this game again.  We’d, like, look totally bad if we did.  So, do whatever you have to.  What’s that?  The dynamic weather system won’t be done until November or December?  Well, take it out of the game for now, and when it’s ready, patch it in and call it ‘free DLC’.  People LOVE feeling like you’re giving them free stuff!”

Anyway, I was going to buy Driveclub, but this horrific launch chased me over to the other racing game which was released only a week prior:  Forza Horizon 2, and it’s fuuuuuun.  Not only is it fun, but it’s well polished and everything works the way it’s supposed to.  As far as blind buying Driveclub… well, I don’t see that happening anytime soon.  First and foremost, its issues need to be addressed, and even then, I’m going to wait until I can try the ‘demo’ before making a decision.  I know there are a lot of people that don’t have an Xbox One, so picking up Forza Horizon 2 isn’t a viable solution for them.  That said, don’t send the message to Sony or Evolution that everything that transpired is okay.  At the very least, this game shouldn’t receive consumer support until it’s working the way the developers intended.

Sony and Evolution Studios, here’s what it all boils down to:  If you promise something to consumers, they’re going to remember.  Don’t pull a bait-and-switch even if it’s unintentional.  Last but certainly not least, games need to work.  If you had to delay the game another few weeks or so, yes, you’d catch a lot of crap… but so what?  The backlash over this ordeal is likely going to cost Evolution some fans, and, well, I think people are finally coming to realize that while Sony makes great hardware, they’re not the most reliable company around.

Byte-Size Video: Discussing AC: Unity Parity and DriveClub Launch Issues

While playing Shadow of Mordor, I talk about the Assassin’s Creed: Unity 900p/30fps controversy, as well as launch issue that’s been plaguing the Driveclub servers.  This also stems into some discussion about PS+ and how Sony have dropped the ball in regards to bettering their service (which they had promised to do).


This article quotes Yoshida talking with CVG at E3 in 2013, specifically in regards to the decision of the change with PS+. The article states ‘Yoshida explained the move was necessary to maintain a high quality service and facilitate improvements and expansions.’

“That’s (was) a big decision,” he said. “what we internally discussed and decided is that we will continue the free access to online play on PS3 and Vita, so that’s clear. But because on PS4 the online connectivity features such as second screen, auto downloads and share features – these are one big pillar of the PS4 experience and we will continue to invest in this area to EXPAND AND IMPROVE THESE ONLINE FEATURES AND SERVICES.

“If we keep giving away online access for free, the natural pressure is that we have to cut down on the cost to provide this free service. But that’s conflicting with OUR GOAL OF BEING ABLE TO PROVIDE VERY ROBUST AND GREAT ONLINE SERVICES going forward. So we decided that on PS4, because we want to continue to invest and IMPROVE OUR NEW SERVICES, we’ve asked the most engaged consumers in the online activities to share the burden with us so that WE CAN CONTINUE TO INVEST.”

Congratulations Xbox One – And A Reminder On Perspective…

First and foremost, congratulations to Microsoft for their release of the Xbox One, and congratulations to anyone who picked one up at launch. Thanks to the launches these last couple of weeks, Christmas has come early for many of us, indeed.

For some who haven’t read back in my blog, I’ve been asked if I plan on picking up an Xbox One to sit next to my PS4 – No. I can’t really afford to dump money on two consoles at once, and Microsoft made me pretty upset with their DRM policies early on. They’ve reverted, but the damage has been done. In terms of features and games though, the Xbox One seems like an awesome machine for those who want (mostly) full media integration in the living room, so all the power to anyone who prefers it to the PS4. Personally, I just don’t care about any of that stuff. I want a simple gaming machine, and that’s what the PS4 delivered. Games? I figure Sony is going to have the better exclusives, so I’m pretty excited to see what’s yet to come.

Anyway, there’s something I want to address – The internet hate. Holy shit, it’s been absolutely bananas. When the PS4 launched last week, Microsoft fans were jumping on Sony’s willy for having some issues… issues which were allegedly under 1%. Furthermore, fake reviews were written across the net in an attempt to make the PS4 look bad. There were those of us who said, “Media integration in our society is making this sound wayyy worse than it is… just relax, and enjoy your new console people. Xbox One will have issues when it launches next week as well… and not because we wish harm on the Xbox One, but because that’s just the nature of the beast.”

Well, here we are one week later, and guess what? The Xbox One has issues as well… and you know what? It isn’t a big deal. It sucks for anyone to have a bum console on day 1, but the vast majority are enjoying theirs. There’s no need to drag company names in the mud for errors which obviously happened in a variable manufacturing and shipping process. These things happen, and no product launches at a zero percent fail rate. Ever. Last week, I told many that the PS4 seemed to be well in line for a low rate of failure, and the Xbox One issues appear to be isolated as well.

This just goes to show you folks, that there’s no conspiracies and nothing sinister going on behind the scenes… this is product launch 101. If you’re that concerned about what awaits, get the extended warranty through your company of choice. But please, stop all the bickering online and stop trying to blow minimal fail rates out of proportion.

With that said and out of the way, I want PS4 and Xbox One owners alike to have a great time with their recently acquired games and consoles… I know I have.

Stay tuned to the blog for a review on Killzone Shadow Fall’s single player campaign in the next day or two!

Bit-History: Final Fantasy VII

As blasphemous as it sounds, I’m not a huge fan of RPG’s.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve enjoyed plenty – everything from The Legend of Zelda (I’ll count both original NES titles as RPG’s) to Dragon Age – but I find myself incredibly picky over what I’m willing to play.  Plenty of genre efforts come and go, never so much as blipping on my radar… and why?  I believe the answer begins and ends with Final Fantasy VII.

Sitting to write this piece really takes me back.  A nerdly friend of mine had purchased Final Fantasy VII without owning a Playstation… on purpose, because he was allowed to borrow the console from someone.  I spent numerous weekends at his place, and we did nothing more than take lengthy turns playing video games.  Frankly, when he excitedly told me about how far he had gotten in FFVII, I was like, “Great, I’m going to have to suffer watching this crappy game all weekend.”  Boy, was I put in my place.  He was nearing the endgame, and he was unleashing a bunch of impressive summons, including ‘Knights of the Round’.  My jaw was agape, and for the first time ever, I found myself intrigued by a turn-based RPG.

Keep in mind, up to this point, I was never interested in Final Fantasy or any other RPG with similar gameplay.  I was young, and wanted the instant gratification of arcade style gameplay.  You can play Final Fantasy III on the SNES all you want, but I was going to chill at home with Contra, Mario, Ninja Turtles, Double Dragon and Metroid.  My attitude, more or less had been, “What?  I have to READ to play this game?  And then I have to passively take part in a battle by choosing attacks from a menu system?  Wake me from my sugar cereal overdose in about a week, by which time you should be done with this boring tragedy you call a game.”  Ignorant, yes, but I was a kid… so shaddap.

I hadn’t realized it yet, but my life as a gamer was about to change forever.  My preconceived notions – and yes, ignorance – were about to catch wind and fly out the window.  Based on what I saw at my bud’s house, I ended up getting a Playstation JUST to play this game (although many games followed).  I was intimidated before I even pulled the shrink-wrap off the case.  “The game is on THREE CD’s?!  Goodbye, life…”  At the time of its release, playing a game that could take 40 hours, if not more, seemed like madness… at least to me.  After all, Ocarina of Time had not been out yet, and I can’t recall what the longest game I had ever played before it was.  I honestly had no idea if I had the stamina required to make it to the end… but I did.  Not only did I make it, but I actually went above and beyond to level up and find as much stuff as possible, playing for about 63 hours (I believe).  Never once did I feel the game drag, or ask myself when it was going to be over.  On the contrary – I wanted more, and when I was nearly finished, I was sad it was coming to an end.  Sure, I could go back and play it again, but a game like this?  Your second time is never quite like the first, you know?

So, why did this game change my life?  What made it such a unique experience?  For starters, the development of plot and character were on a scale I’d never seen… hell, on a scale that NOBODY had seen before.  For the first time, I actually found myself vested in the characters and their plight.  Things start off with a bang, as the main character – none other than the infamous Cloud – is taking down reactors as a merc for hire, but after your escape, the experience is mostly a slow burn with satisfying flashes of action sprinkled throughout.  Although you could spend up to 70 hours drilling through the game, the ebb and flow of it is all very even.  When you first meet certain characters, everyone is a little apprehensive, and for quite some time.  It isn’t until you actually feel comfortable with these characters YOURSELF, that the characters on-screen begin to warm up to each other.  From there, they all form an unbreakable bond, and you come to love each and every one of them in different ways.  Cloud often finds himself in the middle of two women who care for him deeply… one is new and mysterious, the other a fond memory from his past before… well, everything that happens in this game.  There’s a very ‘alpha dog’ male companion who gets on your nerves from time to time, but you eventually make up in a very ‘s’all good, bro’ kind of way.  I’m not sure I’ve ever felt to the characters in a video game since.  Have you ever cried while playing a game?  I have… when a member of my odd little fellowship winds up as collateral damage.

This makes Final Fantasy VII both a blessing and a curse – A blessing because it’s a game that was on a completely different level at the time of its release, and still stands as a template for RPG’s today.  It’s a curse however, because serving as my introduction to RPG’s in general, my expectations of what an RPG SHOULD be have always been through the roof.  As a result, I haven’t been able to joy many of the ‘average’ RPG’s.  I won’t even give a game my attention anymore unless there’s something about it that really grabs my attention.  The last game to do that was Ni No Kuni, which I’ve just picked up recently.  I’ve only been able to play for about 40 minutes, so I won’t be able to give any opinions on it just yet, but it definitely shows promise of being every bit of fun, magical and whimsical as its trailers promise.  Before that?  I don’t know… I don’t think I can even remember what the last turn-based RPG I played was.  I hope to rectify that, hoping that my age and gaming experience will have allowed my expectations to level realistically, so I can enjoy a bunch of the titles I’ve missed along the way, such as Final Fantasy XIII and Final Fantasy XIII-2.

Amazing story and characters aside, Final Fantasy VII has pretty much perfected the turn-based genre, with its combination of menus which are easy to use and understand, ‘real time’ button presses which can aide in delivering more powerful blows, and materia-based upgrade system.  As a newcomer to this style of gameplay (at the time), I was surprised at just how intuitive it all managed to be.  Squaresoft had gone on record saying they thought that Final Fantasy VII would have been too complex for gamers in the US… and all I could say after beating the game was, really?  Some of the battles were difficult, especially if you didn’t take the time to grind and level accordingly, but to say this would have gone over our heads in the United States almost seems like an insult.  I know we’re all perceived to be stupid drones that do little more than credit card ourselves into a hole that’s loaded with unnecessary goods and greasy food, but come on… this wasn’t a complex game.  The only thing that really demanded you pay attention was the story, but it’s so easy to become invested in this world and everyone in it, that you never lose sight of the big picture.  Anyway – Final Fantasy VII did such a great job at implementing all of its core gameplay mechanics, that I remember the next installment – Final Fantasy VIII – being a huge letdown.  It wasn’t a bad system, but it wasn’t nearly as fun to experiment with as its predecessor.

I’ll never forget Final Fantasy VII… I obviously consider it to be up there as one of the best games of all time, if not THE best.  Remember, that’s coming from someone who wasn’t, and still kind of isn’t a huge fan of RPG’s.  Sure, over the years I’ve enjoyed the likes of Dragon Age, Demon’s Souls, Skyrim, Fallout 3, and I’m certain Ni No Kuni will turn out to be one of the most pleasant surprises I’ve had in a while… but the perfection that is FFVII is probably why I couldn’t get into games like Fable, Dragon Age 2, or Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.  I’ve developed the opinion that an RPG simply isn’t worth it unless it’s going to be something extraordinary on EVERY front… otherwise, what’s the point?  It’s just going to be the same as any other RPG, right?  Right.

I love you Final Fantasy VII… and I hate you.  But I don’t love to hate you… I just hate to love you, because of what you’ve done to me as a gamer.