Unless you’ve been (cliche incoming…3…2…1….) under a rock, you’ve heard that the next Street Fighter release is console exclusive to the PlayStation 4. No matter what side of the fence you stand on, this is a pretty big deal. Getting a numbered entry exclusive to a console AFTER it existed on multiple consoles will always be big no matter the genre.
Those intent on downplaying the gravity of this move tend to miss out on two points. First, even though the Fighting genre won’t break sales records like an FPS title, the console war is made up of the small individual skirmishes within it. As long time affiliate Michael A points out in our React podcast centered on the SFV announcement, locking in the smaller genres will ultimately make PS4 the better place to play overall. Second, the game will also be released on PC and there’s a big feature that just may send ripples into the future of this console generation:
Playstation/PC cross-play has been a beneficial feature only scarcely used in the last few generations of gaming. PS2 and PS3 only beheld a handful of games collectively, but it seems the PS4 will fully adopt where the opportunity arises. I don’t claim to be an expert on the limitations cross-play offers or if there’s a technical barrier that limits Microsoft’s adaptation of the feature, but I do know I’ve enjoyed playing across consoles. A few of my friends exclusively play on PC and it was an incredibly sigh of relief being able to jump into the same server as them on Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn and race to the end game.
One example of a time this would have been beneficial is with Destiny. Even limiting it to Xbox One/PS4/PC servers away from 360/Ps3 in order to promote the purchases on the new gen, there are so many friends I would have been able to play with, even though we own different systems. Seems like a simple thing to attempt to bring groups of gamers together, thus enhancing the value of the game on both. It’s a business and I understand that, but the fewer times my friends and I have to discuss what platform to get a game on the better.
Now, it’s not enough to bring this feature into the mainstream. There’s a movement prevalent during this generation that cross-play could influence:
The Race For Indie
The Game Awards and PSX events are only recent prime evidence that Indie devs are very important to this console generation. “Indie” has been the buzzword ever since E3. In line with “locking in the smaller genres”, both Microsoft and Sony have been snatching up fantastic titles to bolster their libraries. From The Vanishing of Ethan Carter to Shovel Knight, Inside to The Tomorrow Children, Ori and the Blind Forest to…um…The Forest, Indie developers are receiving more support than they know what to do with.
And I’m all for it.
Back in July, it was revealed that Sony was considering adopting an Early Access model reminiscent of Steam. If you aren’t familiar, Early Access allows developers to get feedback on a game while they continue working on it. Some devs release parts of the game in chapters, while others only allow certain modules to be experienced before full release. Regardless of how it’s done, the final product is greatly influenced by the community and offers up a rich, inclusive experience. If cross-play was somehow integrated into Early Access and Microsoft didn’t get on board, Indie developers may begin to lean a certain way further down the line.