1. The price drop continues to close the sales gap
Yes, all right, the economy is still in the shitter and the cheaper 360 is still outselling the more expensive PS3. But that just makes it even more significant that the PS3 has been trailing the 360 a lot more closely these days, with VGChartz reporting its worldwide sales at 32.17 million units, compared to 37.51 million for the 360. That means that, even at its higher price point, it’s still a strong competitor. And since its dramatic redesign and price drop last year, it’s only gotten stronger.
Above: Hell yeah, you want this now
Why should you care about whose system is selling the most, particularly when we said sales won’t be the determining factor in who wins? Well, online bragging rights aside, a bigger install base for the PS3 means more people buying PS3 games. That in turn leads to more attention from publishers, which leads to more and better exclusives, which leads to more people buying PS3s, and so on. And should the PS3 manage to actually surpass the 360’s sales this year, well, we can probably expect fiascos like Bayonetta’s clumsy port job to be a thing of the past, at the very least.
2. The Last Guardian will make you cry
God of War III, Heavy Rain and Gran Turismo 5 are going to be awesome, sure, but out of all the games coming out (or at least, potentially coming out) this year, none have our offices buzzing quite like The Last Guardian. Hell, it’s our most anticipated game of 2010! Admittedly, all we’ve seen of this off-kilter, boy-and-his-giant-monster fantasy adventure is one trailer, but it’s been more than enough to fire our collective interest and imagination for almost a year now.
Above: Any excuse to watch this again is a good excuse
Of course, we’re not taking it entirely on faith that this will be good; there’s a precedent. In fact, there are two precedents, as the team behind The Last Guardian is also responsible for the critically beloved Ico and Shadow of the Colossus. If The Last Guardian can be at least as good as either of those games and can tug on our heartstrings as effectively as its trailer, then I’d say it’s already a shoo-in Game of the Year contender.
3. The other exclusives
Charlie might want you to think the 360 is getting all the good exclusives this year, but for serious, hardcore gamers willing to maybe take a chance on something without a number in its title, the PS3 is where the real action’s at. As always, the PS3’s getting its share of major original exclusives in 2010, but this time around they potentially have a little more bite than your InFamouses and Eye of Judgments. White Knight Chronicles looks to be a steep cut above conventional JRPG fare, MAG is catnip for true shooter fans and ModNation Racers plays like a prettier, customizable Mario Kart. Meanwhile, Heavy Rain is poised to change the way people think about adventure games, and 3D Dot Game Heroes should be irresistible to anyone raised during the 8-bit era. And that’s not even counting the stream of original, artsy PSN-only titles we’re sure to see in the next 11 months.
Above: Realistically, some of these might not make it out this year – but eat it just the same, 360!
Of course, we’ll get plenty of exclusive sequels, too, not the least of which are God of War III, Final Fantasy Versus XIII and Gran Turismo 5 (maybe, probably). MMORPGs are slated to start slinking onto the PS3 this year as well, with Final Fantasy XIV, Free Realms and DC Universe Online all expected to show up in the coming months. Sure, Halo: Reach will probably sell a bajillion copies, but if your gaming interests extend beyond Master Chief’s no-doubt deep and meaningful backstory, Sony’s lineup holds all kinds of cool things.
4. Blu-ray is starting to matter
When the PS3 first dropped into stores at $600, I did my fair share of bitching and whining about how Blu-ray was a needless addition that inflated the console’s price to ridiculous levels. More than three years later, however, it’s starting to become clear that Sony was right to include it. HDTVs are getting cheaper all the time, and with 1080p sets now the standard, Blu-ray is the best-looking (if most expensive) way to watch movies at home. More importantly, games are getting bigger all the time, and we’ve already seen a few multi-DVD 360 games that could easily have fit on a single Blu-ray.
Above: Disc-swapping? Yeah, that sure looks like fun
Sony isn’t the only one to see the usefulness of Blu-ray for gaming; far from it. In fact, reports have been circulating for a while now that Microsoft has plans to incorporate Blu-ray into the 360 (or at least sell an external drive for the console), and if that’s not a ringing endorsement then I don’t know what is. Like it or not, it’s becoming increasingly clear that Blu-ray is the future – at least until the industry moves to an all-download business model – and hey, the PS3 was there first.
5. Motion controls (or lack thereof)
We harp on motion controls a lot, and it’s also true that Sony doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to said technology. (Quick quiz: how many games have you played lately that put Sixaxis to good use?) It’s also true that Sony will join its competitors in rolling out gimmicky-looking motion-control devices sometime this year.
Above: Yep, this thing
Unlike Microsoft and Nintendo, however, Sony isn’t treating those devices as a centerpiece of its 2010 strategy. It’s treating them like the gimmick they are, and instead putting its focus squarely on delivering awesome exclusive games. Yes, the ice-cream-cone-looking Motion Controller no doubt plays an important part in Sony’s plans this year, but should it fall flat, then at least Sony didn’t spend huge amounts of time and money trying to convince us it was going to change the way we think of games. Microsoft can’t make the same boast.
At the same time, though, remember how Microsoft showed off Project Natal at E3 2009? That’s right: with driving, splatter-painting and a creepy little boy who remembers your face. Sony, meanwhile, started with rudimentary painting and ball-swatting demos, but quickly worked its way up to controlling an RTS, fighting a skeleton with a sword and knocking down zombies with arrows. That tells us Sony’s already thinking of how best to adapt these contraptions to gaming, instead of the other way around.
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