How Sony’s Welcome Back Package Helped to Reignite One Game’s Online Community

Sony’s ‘Welcome Back’ package, consisting of two PS3 titles, two PSP titles, and a free month of PlayStation Plus membership, was released to the public roughly two weeks ago, with mixed reactions all-around. Some loved the selection of games offered, some hated them, however, through this ‘Welcome Back’ package, Sony managed to reinvigorate the online community for a particular title, adding a ton more value to a game released over 2 years ago.

That title? WipEout HD, yes WipEout, the oddly capitalized futuristic racing game with eye-melting HD visuals and a bumping techno soundtrack. WipEout HD is a phenomenal game, but the time at which it was released was not a good one. The PlayStation 3 was still trying to gain a firm grasp on the market, and the PlayStation Store had only just received its much-needed facelift.

So while WipEout received some impressive review scores and  managed to be a very good title, the fact that it wasn’t a disc-based game, along with the infancy of the PlayStation Store, seemed to stifle the title’s notoriety a bit. And while initial sales were still quite good, the online portion of the title seemed to drop off throughout its time on the market. While many games’ online portions decline with time, WipEout HD’s community was near non-existent, with online matches only available by chance, and any sense of competition basically… wiped out (no pun intended).

Over the next year, Studio Liverpool released the WipEout Fury expansion, which added a lot to the game, and did manage to bump up online activity a bit, but as time went on, the community started to drop off yet again, and, for the most part, online matches were once again quite difficult to come across. The good news comes with the release of Sony’s ‘Welcome Back’ package. Because of the millions of folks who chose to pick up WipEout HD + Fury through this promotion, as expected, the online lobbies for the title are now jam-packed, matches are taking place 24/7, and one of the PlayStation Network’s more incredible titles is finally getting the recognition, and play, that it deserves.

So while some may claim that Sony promoted certain titles as a part of a marketing strategy (i.e. Infamous, LittleBigPlanet, etc.), which they very well may have done, they still managed to provide some truly awesome titles, and at the same time managed to reinvigorate a franchise which certainly deserved more attention. If you’ve yet to jump on the WipEout wagon, I would more than encourage you to at least check it out. Additionally, if you already own WipEout HD, take a look at the Fury expansion, as it totally transforms the look and feel of the game, and is more than worth the $9.99 price of admission.

It is indeed so refreshing to see that Sony really does know quality, and, much more, that they have the foresight to keep promoting it. So until next time, see you all in my reticule!