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PS3Blog Says Goodbye to 2006

2006 is almost over and with it comes the time to look back over what was a very mixed year for Sony, with a lot of negativity aimed at them, some of it unjust but some totally deserved, and a chance to look forward to what (hopefully) could be a fantastic year for Sony and the PS3.

My biggest disappointment of 2006

Gary I could’ve easily said the delay of the PS3 for us Europeans but it has it’s positives. My biggest disappointment of 2006 was E3 2006. Sony promised so much after E3 ’05 with the now infamous Killzone and MotorStorm videos, yet nothing shown at E3 ’06 made those videos from the previous year look possible on the PS3. The info released at E3 was also a big letdown and left me with more questions than answers.

You can also add Sony’s PR campaign of destruction, which seemed solely aimed at destroying their reputation and turning a big majority of the gaming public against them. It’s a good job I don’t take PR seriously!

Tom I’m pretty much in agreement with Gary here. Whilst the European launch really annoyed me the mistakes that Sony has made otherwise are pretty disastrous. The biggest mistake probably started with the overselling of the PS3 in 2005, it made the final version we saw back in May look relatively unimpressive.

Added to that a number of gaffes from various Sony spokespeople have worked to belittle the console, shifting the focus on needless PR battles between Sony, its competitors and the media. This in turn has deluded the highly intelligent internet gaming community where news travels very fast. Whoops is not the word. They need to do a lot of work, stunts like this do not help.

Moving briefly away from all things PlayStation I am also pretty irked by the rise of the marketplace and what I feel should be called “key downloadable game content”. EA, I’m looking at you. Selling downloadable content is fine. Selling downloadable content that should be available in games is not. So do not do it. We will not buy it.

Henning The world wanted to beat up on Sony this year, and they did. But if Sony wanted to get out of the mess they were in, they really only had to do one thing: deliver. And they didn’t do that. They delayed the console from spring to fall. The launch numbers were terrible. Their Blu-ray player was delayed multiple times and is only available now. The BD launch was terrible, with only a malfunctioning Samsung BD player available. Only a very few BD titles have Dolby TrueHD or DTS HD Master audio. The 50GB BD movies took too long to come online. The PS3’s online functionality is only just good enough, but not noteworthy in any way. Sony doesn’t seem to have any standard guidelines that games should meet. (No mic support in CoD3? What the?)

Sony didn’t deliver what they should have to give them back their good image. Don’t get me wrong. The PS3 is a great machine, and there are some very good games available for it. But in this competitive market, that’s not good enough.

Darrin The biggest disappointment in 2006 was definitely the negative media and blogosphere reaction to the PS3.

I don’t think the negativity and hostility was due to the delays, or the resolution scaling issues, or the E3 keynote speech, or the loss of exclusives, or the PSP ad done in poor humor, or whether or not some executive is arrogant.

These were all real problems, but all three next-gen systems had the same story: they promised the moon at E3 but later reneged and moved their big punches to 2007 and delivered much less in 2006. Why did PS3 get all the bad press?

The problem was largely PR. Microsoft did an excellent job of feeding the press a constant stream of positive and interesting headlines to report: whether it was a new XNA beta, or a new exclusive deal with a game studio, or a backward compatibility update, or a new retro arcade game, or a firmware upgrade, or a red carpet press event; Microsoft always had a positive headline ready for people to talk about. And the Wii made a great 30 second pitch and keynote speech, even if it’s one and only big game in Fall 2006 was a GameCube game. Sony didn’t have the novelty of the Wii and lacked the constant source of headlines that Microsoft provided; they went silent for months at a time and periodically made confusing statements to the press and people hated that.

What do you want the most from the PS3 in 2007, firmware-wise, software-wise and hardware-wise?

Gary Firstly I would like to get the PS3 in my hands!! With regards to software, I’m hugely looking forward to games such as Devil May Cry 4, Heavenly Sword and GTA IV for starters. I have a feeling 2007 is going to be a massive year, software-wise, for the PS3 with some major names scheduled for release. I just hope I can afford all the games I have pencilled in as must-have purchases…

For hardware, I’m intrigued by what new direction Sony is planning on taking it’s Eye Toy HD. I hope Sony don’t disappoint with it’s final form whenever it’s finally released.

I want to be able to record magical gaming moments (boast worthy of course), either via replays or at the press of a button in-game, and share them with my online friends via the PlayStation Network. I also want to be able to listen to my own music when I’m playing a game rather than the generic in-game music. Should be possible with a firmware update and with March getting ever closer, I hope Sony make these things possible by then.

Henning I want background downloads. Universal mic support. Being able to access the XMB and chat with others while in game. Better organization of media on my PS3. The PS3 should recognize devices on the network and should stream content from them. Support for my own music in games. More multiplayer (splitscreen) support. And most of all, I want a Champions of Norrath game!

Tom Firmware? Sony needs to deliver multi-tasking abilities. If the XMB always reserves a certain amount of system resources then I expect to see the opportunity to play music from your HDD while taking part in an online battle in Resistance. This should enable things like friends list interaction, background downloads too and maybe (and this is possibly a pipe dream) allow the extra resources to be used to scale resolutions. This kind of functionality needs to come sooner rather than later.

Software? I cannot wait to see the final versions of games like Heavenly Sword, Warhawk, Motorstorm, the continuing GTHD concept demo downloads and Virtua Fighter 5 (exclusive or not it is still going to be a stunning title). I’ve got high hopes for Mercenaries 2, MGS4, Formula 1: CE, GTA: IV, DMC4 and I think Lair could be excellent too based on Factor Five’s past history.

Hardware? I can see a raft of peripherals arriving. Eyetoys, wireless microphones and guitars, steering wheels and a collection of other unique peripherals. I’d still like to see a rumble controller though. Everyone knows that it is possible, and if it is an option I’m not bothered paying a slight premium for it.

Darrin Almost every major developer has a big PS3 project for 2007. I think this will be the biggest year in gaming ever. We will see lots of new game experiences but I don’t think we can predict what games they will be in. Looking at the release schedule, I’m really excited about GTA 4, LA Noire, Lair, Warhawk, GT:HD (haven’t played yet), Ratchet & Clank, Jak And Daxter, Mercenaries 2, SingStar, Guitar Hero PS3, DMC4, MGS4, Killzone, the untitled projects from Rockstar and Zipper, the next Black, Burnout 5, the next Getaway (the PS2 games were terrible overall, but they show promise), FFXIII, and God of War 2 (doesn’t count since it’s PS2, but it’s too good to omit). But as I said, I don’t think we will predict where the best games will come from. I couldn’t be more excited about the games in 2007.

Which PS3 games have impressed you the most this year (full/demo/download/videos)?

Gary White Knight Story looked fantastic at TGS ’06 and looks as if it could take RPGs into a new direction. Afrika also has me drooling with it’s fantastic representation of African wildlife in their natural habitat, even though I’m still none the wiser as to what the game entails. MGS4 also looks stunning but I wouldn’t expect anything less from Koijima-san.

Henning MotorStorm. The demo is awesome, and I look forward to getting the full game in March. Too bad it won’t include splitscreen support (at least those are the indications so far). 🙁

Tom The latest GTHD video looks really good, although the environments are clearly in need of some work. Motorstorm looked really stunning when I got hands on with it the other week, but I hope they sought out things to make the game better value by the time it launches in North America and Europe. I’m also quite looking forward to owning Resistance; what I played at 3rooms was both fun and impressive!

Darrin SingStar was the biggest surprisingly impressive demo for me. I still won’t do Karaoke, but that just looks so cool.

Seeing 1080p in person was also a surprise. I expected it to look exactly like 720p unless I got up close with a magnifying glass, but the difference was obvious, even at six feet distance from kiosk displays (I’d guess about 27-inch flat screens). High res still isn’t that big a deal (I am keeping my non-HD TV for now), but I was surprised 1080p looked so much better after expecting the opposite.

What were your highlights of 2006?

Gary The quality of PS2 games in Europe during the first 3 quarters of the year were by far the biggest positives of 2006. Games such as Shadow of the Colossus, Ico re-release, DMC3 Special Edition, DBZ: Budokai Tenkaichi 2, Psychonauts, Yakuza, Bully and Kingdom Hearts 2 kept the PS2 ticking along rather nicely at a time when Microsoft buried the Xbox and the GameCube was lacking some major software support.

If only FFXII and Okami made it over here during 2006…

Tom Getting my own PSP and discovering the console is not nearly as bad as some may lead you to believe (worth it purely for Pro Evolution Soccer 6 on the move and Wipeout Pure) and getting involved with both old titles on my PS2 that I’d missed out on as well as seeing new ones in action like the frantic but brilliant Guitar Hero 2! Oh… and getting to play the PS3 and see an official run down of the machine’s features!

Henning Getting my PS3 of course! I’m enjoying playing Resistance, Call of Duty 3, and Need for Speed Carbon a lot more than I thought I would. Marvel: Ultimate Alliance is a bit of a disappointment. The PS3 itself is a wonder. Coming a close second is writing here on this site, and seeing the interaction from readers. I consider a post a success when it sparks conversation, and there is nothing more depressing (site related) to see a post with no comments. So thank-you all for contributing to this site, and I look forward to more of the same in 2007.

Darrin PS2 and PSP. People are sick of hearing about these platforms but for 2006, the next gen is still just warming up, and these platforms had the best games by far. PS2 had amazing exclusives including Bully, Guitar Hero 2, Okami, FFXII, and Yakuza and amazing cross platform titles such as Scarface, Lego Star Wars II, and Destroy All Humans. And we got great enhanced releases of MGS3 and DMC3.

For PS3, 2007 will be a huge year and I can’t wait. See everyone then.