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The Aftermath of the Sony Press Conference and Site Updates

I'll preface this by saying: this post is a little different, it's not a game demo or progress update: 
I posted a shorter version of this on Reddit shortly after the PS4 reveal, someone in the thread suggested I repost it now that we've all had a little time to calm down, and I decided that this is the kind of thing I want to share here, on the blog. Obviously this entire post is formatted like a reddit selfpost, so forgive me if anything sounds a little bit out of context. Also, there some info on the update to the site too! After the Great wall of text I've written a little insight into why the site changed so skip ahead if that's what you're interested in. There's also a TL;DR in true reddit style so if you're intimidated by the great wall of words then skip ahead for that too.

The Aftermath of the Sony Press Conference - Why Your Choices as a Consumer Matter More Than Previous Generations

So it might seem as though Sony just demolished Microsoft's chances at having a competitive console this generation, but I think as a community we should take a step back and really think about the ramifications of the announcements today before we all run out to preorder PS4s.
As you can see, there is a lot of overlap here, when you look at the features side by side there are only really 2 or 3 features which truly stand out in favour of the PS4 to all demographics.
  • No Used Games Policy
  • The lower Price point
  • No Nightly Mandatory Online Checkups
These are the three points which probably resonate the strongest with the community right now because of the tension leading up to this conference (I'll get onto the Kinect issues in a second), and while they are fantastic features we should take the announcement with a pinch of salt. Lets take a look at what these three features amount to when compared with the previous generation of consoles.
  • No change
  • Better release price point (Especially when factoring in almost a decade of inflation, keep in mind the PS3 Initially Sold for $500)
  • No change
In addition, many have been quick to point out the grey cloud: the PS4 will require a subscription to play online multiplayer. Does this matter much when comparing the next gen? Not in the slightest. Seeing as both online services cost the same and offer similar features this isn't really a dealbreaker; you are screwed in that regard with both systems (But this does perhaps mean a little bit of bad press for Sony concerning the way they "announced" it).
Ultimately the console comparison should be kept within generations to maintain a level of immediate relevance, but since many titles will be released on both the current gen and next gen consoles for at least a year or so its worth thinking about whether or not its worth waiting. At the end of the day these three features are soft-set, in flux, changes can be made to these policies (that goes for both M$ AND Sony, lest we forget the great PS2 compatibility removal calamity) and i'm sure M$ will definitely be reconsidering their position given the reaction to the sony conference.
The built in and mandatory Kinect functionality can be both considered a Con and a Pro depending on the demographic. Whether or not the Hardcore crowd has any love for Kinect matters very little, in short, we are not the Kinects target audience. Which brings me to my next point:
The X1 is going to sell. Even in its current state it's going to sell well, because its The Next Xbox and Kids will ask their parents for it. And its not just kids, Gamers of all age ranges are going to want the box simply because some people don't care about things like used games and DRM, just take a look at EAs track record. Features which repel hardcore gamers don't destroy sales as much as the community would hope. What does this ultimately mean? It means that the Publisher-Friendly features of the X1 coupled with a guaranteed-to-be-large userbase is going to ensure lots of interest from Publishers, and what you need to remember is Publishers have all the marbles, the dosh, the wonga. The next time a publisher wants to push a big blockbuster and they are concerned for their bottom line the X1 is going to look tasty as f*ck.
But that doesn't mean the PS4 isn't going to get its fair share of industry interest. Perhaps less interest from publishers, but definitely more interest from Developers, especially the indie community, because of their new policies regarding development for the PS4 and the "Virtually no barriers to entry" stuff they are pushing.
At the end of the day, Sony has clearly targeted the Mid-to-Hardcore demographic with their press conference today, and to gauge their success you need only look at the frontpage. But the console war isn't over, the truth is that these two companies are focusing on different areas and M$ wasn't really trying super hard to please us, M$ are focused on becoming "the box under your telly" with their media functionality and connectivity focus. and Sony are focused more on being "The Gamers Console".
The biggest factor regarding these devices and their success specifically as Games Consoles is going to come down to whether or not publishers make so much more money from the anti-used policies and drm of the X1 that they decide to flood the platform with exclusive IP and content. To clarify: If the Hardcore Gamer userbase of the X1 is large enough to be more profitable than the PS4s userbase (Regardless of the actual numbers) then the console is ultimately going to draw focus and the DRM/Used Game policies will become industry standard when it comes to gaming in the living room. What this means is: where you decide to drop your cash is going to have more influence than previous generations, and this is actually extremely relevant because a single X1 user is going to be worth significantly more $$$ than a PS4 user. By how much is yet to be seen.
I've seen many people so far talking about the fact that they've decided to steer clear of the X1 and people defending it, people saying:
  1. it isn't all that bad because they have income and a 1st world internet connection that doesn't go down for more than a few hours at a time on the worst of days.
  2. They're ok with buying new games because it supports developers.
The first point is perfectly valid, but the second point is where the real issue lies: because in this industry we'realways talking about supporting Publishers first and developers second, meaning: Supporting the Business talents in the industry before supporting the Creative talents in the industry. Only on open platforms with self publishing facilities does more sales truly mean developer support before everything else and although the PS4 does have open publishing, the games you buy in stores will all be published titles with the same split.
This is the reason I'm writing this essay of a post, because the devil is in this fine detail. Earlier I said that publishers have all the marbles, the X1 is a console which totally embodies publisher support and a closed system for games as an art form, we're talking about the Hollywood model here. The PS4 on the other hand, while still supporting the overlord-publisher scheme is making small steps towards opening up development as an art, and more community feedback focused business strategies.
The question is: which approach is better? It might be easy to say "The open-artistic utopia of creativity, duh" but all we need to do is take a look at the success of film industry to see that the Hollywood model does work, more money flowing through the industry is unarguably a good thing, whether or not you have a moral issue with it. On the flipside the best way to argue for an open industry it to have a look at some of the things that have come about because of bodies like kickstarter and the mobile market. Things like the Oculus Rift would be impossible to get off the ground without the indie developers willing to take the risk and pump out games for it, and for all we know the Rift and similar devices could be the future of all entertainment let alone just the Games industry (Then again it could flop fantastically, but that's kind of the ultimate point!).
Scrolled up and realized this post is getting out of hand, so i'll wrap up by saying this: Buying an X1 will promote the production of Big Blockbuster games, and that might be a good thing, it might be a bad thing. Buying a PS4 won't mean the end of blockbusters or the start of an open-creative utopia but its a very small step in that direction. Do you think these things should factor into your decision to purchase a console? Maybe, but it's of little consequence right now to the individual, but It will have an impact on the industry over time, and if you're like me then that probably matters to you.
What Does This Mean? / TL;DR: So give up and become PC Gamers. Ok not really, but the bottom line is: X1 is targeted at "families and under-the-telly experiences" but PS4 is targeted at "mid-hardcore gamers". However, a hardcore X1 user is worth more $ than a hardcore PS4 user because of the features. The choice of which console to buy is going to effect the industry more than ever before. If you think creativity and passion-driven-design experiences is more important than blockbuster titles and big budgets then the PS4 is just one of the many consoles (Lest we forget the Android machines coming out soon) which will drive the industry in that direction (slowly), inversely if you believe in a more "Hollywood-Monopoly" destiny (Which, as morbid as it might sound does have some industry benefits) for Gaming then by purchasing an X1 is going to push us that way (rapidly). How do you think this conference is going to effect the industry and the publisher-developer relationship? Is it worth getting a console at all right now? Many questions.

So there it is, pretty long but worth reading if you're interested in the industry. There are so many things I didn't touch on but alas I do not have the time to waste; Games to make and such like. If you have any thoughts feel free to leave them in the comments or tweet @TickTakashi.

So Whats up with the Site Change?

So the site has changed, formerly known as SHMAS this site has become TickTakashi. This post is a good indication of the kind of things I want to post here as well as the games.
The main goal hasn't changed: I'm still gonna pump out cool games and demos, but now i'm more focused on giving things my own unique flavor.

The main change reason is personal:
I wanted to be known as myself. I've spent too much time previously trying to sound and seem a certain way, produce content that looks a certain way, and listening to other people a little bit too much. Years relying on other people to deliver things for these groups of creative types that form and deform over and over. After staring at a metaphorical shelf of unfinished projects and super-abstract game concepts: I'm tired of it. I want to make games that I think are fun. I'm going to do it now, and what better way to start than to pay tribute to the game that truly inspired me to be part of the game design universe: Dark Cloud.
My nickname has been TickTakashi since I was young. The name represents a real person with funky ideas, but also the obsessed gamer that I am. 
I've always been a big advocate of Game Industry openness and i'm going to show that by developing titles for open platforms first. 

If you're looking for the TPU this week then its coming in a few hours, I've spent most of  my time this week working on things like plans for the website (Which still isn't finished by the way!) but I've still managed to make a lot of progress, so if you're following the project then be prepared for some awesomeness. 

It's Time to get back to work.



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