Daily Reaction: When Will Sony Pull the Plug on the PS3?

With the recent announcement of Insomniac Games’ new Ratchet & Clank game for the PS3, the Daily Reaction crew of Seb and Dan answer a few questions regarding how much life the console has left and what Sony should do as they usher in the PS4.

Why is Sony still releasing, and planning to release, PS3 games?

Dan: Well I think the most obvious answer is that the PS4 isn’t here yet, and there are still 70 million PS3s still floating around the world, so it won’t be easy to get people comfortable with the switch. This means that the faster Sony can convince you to forget about your lame current-gen system and pick up a brand new futuristic console, the faster they can drop this generation.

Second and third-party developers are using this time to rebuild engines and that means that they are having to split assets between various teams. This means that we are going to see a number of smaller (non-AAA) titles on the PS3 as the year comes to a close, as well as after the PS4 launches, as their publishers are still going to need to recoup costs of the transition for current fiscal quarters.

This all breaks down to the end of this generation being about money more than anything, it is not a last attempt to get that amazing idea out or even about keeping the PS3 alive – it is about cold hard cash. Investors require companies to meet certain levels of revenue, and if they do not keep within those set parameters, things go very, very wrong – just look at THQ.

Seb: Yeah, there are definitely a bunch of games coming to PS3/360 simply because the market isn’t going to be large enough on PS4 and Xbox One to support most games for a few more years. Then there’s the games like Murdered Soul Suspect, and South Park: The Stick of Truth, where they were just too slow to get their games out in time.

But the fact that Sony are supporting their older console is nothing new, they have a history of doing this every generation. Again, it makes good business sense from the individual game’s point of view, especially on cheaper titles like Into the Nexus, as well as – and here’s where I disagree with Dan – keeping the PS3 alive.

At the tail end of the PS2’s life, it became a hit with casual gamers because of its low price point, DVD playing skills, and family friendly games, helping bring in crucial revenue during the PS3’s expensive launch. Sony hopes to do this again, enticing people with a low price point, Netflix, Blu-ray, Wonderbook and Invizimals all wrapped up into one console. Of course, this time they’re going to face stiff competition from the 360, which has Kinect along with Netflix, and I believe will get a hefty price cut this Christmas.

And, while this isn’t a major issue for most consumers, sadly, so it doesn’t really factor into Sony’s business decisions, supporting the PS3 for a long time shows that the PS4 will be equally supported in the future.

When should they drop the PS3 and fully focus on PS4?

Seb: As long as there is a demand for PS3 games, arguably they should support it. As someone who is getting a PS4 day one, I obviously want all my games on PS4 – I want to play Ratchet & Clank Nexus on my PS4, I want to play Gran Turismo 6 on my PS4, hell I’d even prefer Wonderbook on PS4… not that I particularly want to play it.

But we have to be realistic, not everyone is going to get a PS4 at launch, and they should still get games, just at a slower and slower rate to nudge them into the next gen. Also, with all the already-made engines and tools used in Gran Turismo 6, and presumably Nexus, these are games that were made at a much lower budget and at a far faster rate than if they’d been built from the ground up for PS4.

Any major studio Sony owns that is in the early stages of console game development should now focus on PS4 (and they likely are), but it’s perfectly fine for smaller games to hit the PS3 over the next few years…. and The Last Guardian

Unfortunately, there is one major issue that has to be raised – what about the Vita? The PS3, a console that is being phased out, is getting far more games this holiday – or any upcoming moment – than the Vita. Far, far more. Games like Nexus really didn’t have to be made for PS3, the console doesn’t need it, but the Vita needs any game it can get – especially because there are tons of AAA PS4 games like Watch Dogs and Battlefield 4 that are also coming to PS3, and they won’t be on the Vita.

Dan: Yeah, I think it there is some validity in Sony keeping up production of PS3 games as long as there is demand, but at some point the console will have to be torn away from TVs. Development resources are not infinite, and the more Sony spreads themselves thin the less likely we are going to see support for the failing Vita.

The PS4 will be launching this winter, and the longer the PS3 remains on life support the less reason gamers will have to shift over. This will also mean that gamers will be sitting on the sidelines longer, away from selecting a side in the next wave of console wars, giving Microsoft time to close in on Sony’s lead. MS currently do not have Halo backing their system, but they will soon, so now is the time to capitalize on gamers looking for the next big thing.

This isn’t to say that Sony will or should drop the PS3 right away (like MS did with the Xbox One…One), even though it seems most gamers won’t care, as long as there are games. We will still have a good amount of time on our PS3s (based off of the 10 year plan) but we should expect a major drop off of first-party support once the new year hits.

How much longer do you see yourself using the PS3? And what will keep you around?

Dan: Chances are that once I unbox the PS4, my PS3 will be tested against the rules of gravity and attempt to take flight. Actually, no, I will keep my PS3 to handle reviews and whatnot for my job, but past that I don’t see myself using it unless I need to finish off something in my ever growing backlog of unplayed games.

GTA V and Beyond: Two Souls will hopefully be finished by the time we make the transition over to the next-gen, but as I have well over a dozen games I purchased but have not even played once, I doubt they will all be done. My backlog grows monthly between games I purchase and the games that PlayStation Plus gives me, and with the PS4 launching with multiple free games, I will be starting at a loss there too.

So for me to decide to cling onto the PS3 for too long would mean that I would have to sacrifice staying up to date on where the industry is transitioning to.

Seb: I’d like to say that I’ll keep my PS3 plugged in and play all its amazing classic games, but let’s be realistic here – the second I get my hands on the awesome DualShock 4 controller, feel it’s beautiful form and see the gorgeous games the new hardware will be able to produce, I won’t be able to go back.

In fact, I’m going to find it hard to play even titles like GTA V once the PS4 is out, so the DLC will have to be completely amazing for me to dust off my old giant box.

Luckily, Gaikai is set to bring backwards compatibility of sorts to PS4 next year, sadly only in the US for starters. If it doesn’t take too long to come out here, I can see myself playing some PS3 games that way, and leaving the actual console to get some well earned rest at the bottom of my cupboard, covered in my socks.

Why do you think Sony is still announcing PS3 titles? When should the PS3 be put out to pasture? How long will you continue to keep purchasing games and playing games on the PS3? Let us know in the comments below, email us at [email protected] or tweet us your feeble mindedness at Seb and Dan.