When you think of PlayStation 3’s best games, the names Uncharted, The Last of Us and Infamous come up pretty much every time. Sony has created a pedigree with first party developers, with Naughty Dog being one of the more prominent studios. With the release of the PlayStation 4, eyes have turned to Naughty Dog’s next offering of Uncharted. The super awesome teaser trailer by no means justifies the purchase of a PlayStation 4, but certainly makes people consider their options.
In terms of Microsoft’s equivalent, it’s hard to pinpoint a stand out studio. Microsoft used to hang their hat on Bungie, but we all know how that turned out. Turn 10 is certainly a good contender as the Forza games are always outrageously good. It would be fair to mention that Microsoft has some very popular franchises and content they can rely on to sell their consoles (see Halo and Call of Duty map packs). However, Microsoft doesn’t have a first party developer in the same capacity that can continuously release ‘system defining’ games.
Sony’s use of Naughty Dog throughout the years has produced some of the most memorable game experiences of all time, and they are system sellers. The Last of Us was critically and commercially acclaimed, encouraging some to buy a PlayStation 3 late-game (months before a new console) just to play it.
If Sony allow their first party developers (Naughty Dog in particular) the freedom and trust to create great games, they win the console war. This is where the developer itself is important, although they don’t have a game to offer us at this moment, the moment the hype train hits, Uncharted WILL be a system seller. The franchise itself is defining enough to encourage a console purchase, but with the Naughty Dog stamp of development too, the effect is compounded. Naughty Dog showed with The Last of Us that they don’t need to rely on the name of Uncharted to make a big deal, they let the gameplay and compelling story sell itself. This development method is one which Sony should take with all of their first party developers, be it Santa Monica (God of War) or Sucker Punch (Infamous).
An unfortunate side effect of having all these great studios and intellectual properties means some games may tarnish the memory of the previous title, hurting its popularity permanently. For example, recent Fable games and the much mediocre God of War Ascension have failed to hit the mark, making any future installment less of a system defining title.
Who’s currently managing their developers the best? In my opinion, it’s Sony. Not only do they have a higher number of studios, but those studios pack impressive resumes and will continue to do so. The console war is defined by the exclusive games which each system has. Microsoft may have 343 Industries and Turn 10, but that in no way is a match to the impressive potential from Naughty Dog and Sucker Punch (not to mention Polyphony and Team ICO). Sony seems to be allowing their studios the time and the freedom to create the games they want, and not shackling them down to release schedules ale Microsoft with Halo.
I admit, I may be way off base here, but as things stand, Sony is patiently waiting until it’s big guns are ready, then the console war will really kick off.
What do you think about the first party studio deal and who do you think has the better studios and prospects? Let us know in the comments and share that awesome opinion of yours.