Like most of us avid Sly Cooper fans I picked up Thieves in Time, the next iteration in the franchise, yesterday. Aside from the recent reduction in day one pricing to $39.99 for the PS3 version, the title also includes a great bonus feature: the Vita version of the game for free in a promotion known as “cross-buy.” This isn’t new, several games have released with the feature, but for the niche audience that owns both consoles this is a welcomed promotion that offers a sneak peek into what many gaming enthusiasts hope will be common moving forward. Unfortunately there was one big problem, my PS3 disc wouldn’t register with the PSN (along with literally tens of thousands of others) and thus wouldn’t give me access to the Vita version of the game. This was after the update on the PSN store – it was available digitally on both platforms and prominently displayed on the storefront – so that’s not to blame. I’ve had this problem before too, and although the situation is completely different with Ratchet & Clank: Full Frontal Assault, I am really scared about the future of gaming with consoles. I’m pleased to announce that today I was able to get the Vita version to link and download without a hitch, but as we move into the next generation of consoles the idea of what new versions of digital tokens, DRM protection, and serial number links scares the shit out of me.
Don’t get me wrong, Sony gets it. Many games released by Sony first party have varied in price from $20-$60 and all seem to be based on a somewhat calculated criteria that balances market demand with brand popularity. They aren’t always right, but I always gaze sadly upon the $60 games that have no right being on store shelves among more popular titles. Not only that, but I appreciate the rush of Sony HD collections that celebrate its PS2 greatest hits that are now incompatible with the console at a bargain price. Furthermore Sony is offering pre-sale benefits for games, day one digital releases of big titles, the impressive PSN plus, and the aforementioned cross-buy promotion (which offers a Vita version of a title free with the purchase of the PS3 version). This is something you don’t see in today’s console market. Microsoft isn’t doing it, whether it’s because they don’t want to or don’t know how to, and Nintendo won’t be offering anything resembling this list in the next century. While I truly believe that the next console cycle is the last, I am confident that Sony will help usher in the way console gaming is supposed to be for Microsoft and Nintendo. They didn’t invent it, Valve (Steam) and other PC gaming options established this long ago, but Sony is “getting it.” That doesn’t mean I’m not pissed when I can’t play my games the day I buy them.
I read a nearly insulting article on Destructiod that told me how to redeem my cross-buy title from the disc, as if I’m too foolish to understand it on my own. While the article initially suggests it’s offering a helping hand, the overall feel of it is nothing short of condescending to me and clearly not put into practice by the writer since Sony was at the same time admitting you couldn’t access cross buy with the very title he was writing about. Thanks buddy, I get it, but that doesn’t change the fact that I couldn’t access my goddamn cross-buy. Not that he cares, right? He just knows the instructions but as a games journalist he doesn’t have full retail copies at his disposal most of the time and as a former reviewer of Sony products (including Little Big Planet 2), the press are just told to be confident that it’ll be live on launch day. Well for those of us that got home last night and couldn’t play on Vita, we were pissed off. I also was amused by the mass group of people who asked why I care so much and why launch day access was so important. Really? Are you going to imply that people don’t purchase games at GameStop over other locations because it’s guaranteed the day they come out? Do gamers not go to midnight launches so that they, like my co-host Chris (Gadgetman007), can say they beat the game by dawn? Does Amazon not make a business on same-day shipping, free shipping, and a “Prime” membership that offers free two-day shipping? No, the day you get your hand on a game matters and to even wait 24 hours when the game promotes access on the box is unacceptable.
Lawsuit against Tin Giant – the developer of Full Frontal Assault on Vita that has yet to release that version of the game and thus pissing off fans and original developer Insomniac in the process – notwithstanding it demonstrates the very real fear that the next console generation is going to be chock full of headaches. I do praise Sony for using the extended cycle of the Playstation 3 to beta test upcoming efforts on its next console, but this is still unacceptable. While I consistently ask myself why they didn’t just use codes like everyone else, it is clear that this method won’t be around much longer. Maybe that’s what the reduced price tag is for, maybe not. Perhaps it had no intention of it not working, perhaps not. Either way the console manufacturers going into next-gen better step up their A-game because if this pisses off today’s gamers with current consoles, it’s going to drive the high-priced early adopters of next generation insane. At least Sony’s trying, though, because Microsoft and Sony had best be prepared for the future.