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Predictions for 2009: The Ugly

Submitted by on Monday, 9 February 20093 Comments

270367 main 300x300 Predictions for 2009: The UglyFollowing on from our recent  articles looking at how 2009 is shaping up – coupled with some potentially positive results already – we take a foray into the untended and unsightly future of the PS3.

We’ve looked at ‘The Good‘. We’ve looked at ‘The Bad‘. Now it’s time for the uncensored (and slightly unhinged) ‘The Ugly’.

You have been warned…

In 2008, all the buzz was about the oncoming ‘Home’ project, and how it would completely redefine the way we use our PS3s and interact with other gamers. 2008 was also the year that saw the unveiling of Heavy Rain. These are landmark titles and events. But they may be hiding a sinister side, too…

In the US, we reported some months ago that SOCOM: Confrontation was available to purchase in your local games bazaar. Many of our western cousins dutifully went out and purchased it.

How they laughed and larked about in the plethora of updates and server issues. Even through the hard times, there was a solid game to be played.

But in the EU, things were quiet. No word on release dates. Not even a confirmation that it was ‘in the works’. Shameful.

Finally it seems that we are on our way to getting some semblance of a response, with the recent news that EU will get the game next month. But that was just for one game. If that were a one-off, and SCEE were usually on the ball, I think that the public would have been far less outraged than they were.

This brings me to my first ‘The Ugly’ prediction.

1. Europe remains broken.

eu1 300x266 Predictions for 2009: The UglyDelays in game releases, ongoing lack of a video store, invisible retail representatives for the territory, no contact with the public and even redundancies at SCEE are all things I see happening in the coming year. Every day there are coments on forums; people who would quite happily see the whole team at SCE Europe be replaced.

Of course, what those people probably don’t get is that SCEE have over 25 Stores to update each week, with differing content and regulations in almost each one. SCEA only have to maintain one.

Even if the video store does come along, something tells me that it is going to be a stilted, repugnant version of the US Video Store – no surprise given the complexities of the region. Similarly, Home in the EU will more than likely trail behind the rest of the world, slightly out of breath and sweating from exhaustion. Whilst the US may revel in exclusive events and the Japan spaces will be themed every so often (such as the most recent snowy Home Square idea), something tells me we will have to make do with a new item of clothing to spend £3.00 / €4.00 on every other week.

2. Delays, delays, delays.

waiting 300x294 Predictions for 2009: The UglyWith the recent publication of our Most Wanted 2009 article, it is clear that there are some phenomenal games in the pipeline for the coming year. But how many of these will actually get released this year. God of War 3 has been put back to March 2010, as opposed to the previous suggestion of late ’09. Could we see more games getting the delay treatment? My thoughts are on a number of games.

  • Ratchet and Clank: The new game is slated for a 2009 release. But if this is a BD release, it could very easily slip to the new year or even later.
  • Team ICO’s new game: With a penchant for producing quirky, innovative and downright glorious games coupled with a mantra of ‘when it’s ready, it’s ready’, it would be little surprise if this game were pushed back to next year. Which would be a great shame, but one I’d be ok with given the pedigree of the development team.
  • Uncharted 2: Scheduled for this year but I really could see this game fall back. More likely within financial year 2009, but still not this calendar year. Something tells me that Naughty Dog will want this game to be as good as it can possibly be before it hits shelves.
  • Bioshock 2: Another sequel to a stellar title from last year. The original came very late to the PS3, and there is nothing to say that this couldn’t happen again. 2K are going to have to tread very lightly with this game in order not to ruin the effect of the first on the genre as a whole. Tinkering time could take this into 2010.

    All of these and more can be found in our game database.

heavy rain 300x204 Predictions for 2009: The Ugly3. Heavy Rain, the most intriguing game of the year, bombs.

It’s happened before, with games like Okami and ICO getting rave reviews from the press, but simply not selling in the shops. Already alarm bells have been going off in my head following the heavy use of QTEs. I’m all for them, but I don’t really like the idea of watching a minimal interactive movie. Critical success does not guarantee commercial success. This is proved time and time again in every field, not just gaming.

Having said that, I truly hope that Heavy Rain succeeds in both arenas, as it does look phenomenal. How it plays will be the key I suspect.

4. Home gets canned.

Don’t punch me. Don’t throw things. Don’t start your hate-mail just yet.

Home is an interesting project. At any given time you can jump on and see a large number of people using the service. Sony have commented that the company has made a lot of money from it already. The point is; how long will this continue to be the case?

homeps3 300x148 Predictions for 2009: The UglyI am not interested in going on and buying stuff from the virtual clothes stores. I have not really spent any time in my apartment, let alone in the Shopping Mall. Put simply, I just don’t use it all that much. There was certainly an initial fascination with the project and it was interesting to see how they had done everything, but now the novelty has worn off.

Do I think I’m alone in this train of thought? Certainly not. The problem will only arise if most people get bored of going Home. At that point it will cease to be viable for Sony, and they would have to very seriously call it a day and pull the plug on the virtual lights.

Having said that, with the recent opening of the Events space, there seems to be some new life in the place. With an ever-improving (and ever-costing) beta mechanism in place, I know a lot of people who frown heavily on betas. Will there ever be a proper Home released without the ‘beta’ tagline?

Something tells me not to hold my breath; blue is not my colour.

If you agree with me, add your comments. If not, add your comments and I might even leave them up. Depending on content, natch.