Curmudgeon Gamer
Curmudgeoning all games equally.
19 January 2006
Sony Wakes Up, Realizes Online Troubles
Sony's online efforts on the PlayStation 2 were painfully amateur, reminding me of the old story that Microsoft belatedly bolted internet support onto Windows 95. By comparison, Xbox Live showed that Microsoft was playing the long-term game, setting a stage for the much improved, commercialized service on the Xbox 360.

Today I see a report on Next Generation that Sony is surveying the gaming press on what they expect in an online service. The whole thing reads like "What parts of Xbox Live should we copy?" Microsoft should be flattered.

Against my inclinations, I'll give Microsoft their due: Xbox Live sounds like a great service. More to their credit, they've commercialized the blasted thing and made it more desirable at the same time. Just look at the top sellers on Xbox Live Arcade: stuff like Geometry Wars, Gauntlet, Smash TV, Mutant Storm Reloaded, and Joust. What's really keen about those classic arcade games is that you can play online co-op with friends, which sounds like a real blast. It doesn't help that my Xbox 360-owning friends keep telling me how Geometry Wars is like a modern Robotron: 2084. And I haven't seen a demo of any game on any platform make as big a splash as I've seen with the Fight Night Round 3 downloadable demo.

If Sony makes a Fall 2006 launch of the PlayStation 3, and that's by no means certain, they're going to fight a battle more important than getting systems to retailers and a stable of worthy games. They're going to get hit with Microsoft's biggest gun, Halo 3 in downloadable demo form.

See, it's one thing to get the big magazines and websites talking about Halo 3 in previews. It will be another thing altogether when over a million Xbox 360 owners download a Halo 3 demo, invite friends over to play, and set online forums afire with post after post of gushing praise. Sure, Halo 3 could bomb and sink the Xbox 360 like a second coming of Virtua Fighter for the Sega Saturn. More likely it will blow our collective socks off with flashy graphics and stick closely enough its tried-and-true gameplay to pass muster with the average user. What's going to be louder? A dozen well-paid articles on the coming of the PlayStation 3 or literally millions of monkeys banging away on their keyboards about the most important demo since shareware Quake?

And if Sony runs into hardware delays, has a cruddy starting lineup, or misses the Fall 2006 season...well, it just won't be pretty. So, I'm sticking with the gist of this older post: Sony's screwed.

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--Matt Matthews at 19:58
Comment [ 3 ]

Comments on this post:

Yeah what with the xbox 360 selling so well in Japan and all. Jesus man, they're screwed, lets all buy psps and pstwos to help them out.

By Anonymous zakk, at 20 January, 2006 00:45  

Just a quick correction, there is no exclamation point in Xbox Live. It's one of those things that seems to be persisting all over the net and I really wish it would just die already.

I guess Creative (with their Soundblaster Live!) is to blame.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 20 January, 2006 11:33  

Anon, noted and fixed. Thanks!

By Blogger jvm, at 20 January, 2006 12:23  

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