February may well be the shortest month of the year, but that doesn’t mean it was short on news. Sony chose this month to make several big announcements, both good and bad. As well as the announcement of PSVR for the PlayStation 5, they also revealed more of their PlayStation Studios titles would be heading to PC. Unfortunately they also announced the reorganisation of Japan Studio.
PSVR Announced for PlayStation 5
Sony finally revealed one of the industry’s worst kept secrets: a new PSVR headset is in development for the Playstation 5. We don’t know what it looks like, nor do we know its official name. What we do know is it “enhances everything from resolution and field of view to tracking and input.” There will be less cables to trip over too now that the unit will operate with just a single cable.
The following month, Sony also introduced the new controllers to go with the headset and we even got a glimpse of them. They have an orb-shaped design, making it far less likely you’ll pitch them into the TV. The adaptive triggers and haptic feedback from the DualSense controller will be included, as well as finger touch detection. Whereas the Move controllers were interchangeable, the new button layout means each controller has a dedicated hand. Finally, there’s no need for a camera because the headset itself will track the controllers through a ring on the bottom of the controller. Sony states there’s “still much more to share about the next-generation of VR on PS5,” but didn’t say when we’d next hear about it.
More PlayStation Studios Games Come to PC
Horizon Zero Dawn was released on PC in the summer of 2020, but many players assumed this was a one-off Playstation Studios release when there was radio silence from Sony for the rest of the year. That silence was broken in February when Sony revealed they’d be releasing more PlayStation Studios games on PC, starting with Days Gone in the spring. They’re not in a rush to release them, though. The third title, God of War, won’t be released until January 14. This will be followed two weeks later by Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection.
According to ex-Chairman of SIE Worldwide Studios Shawn Layden, all of the above titles are those where their sales have pretty much plateaued. Head of PlayStation Studios, Hermen Hulst, has also said that while Sony “values” PC gamers, porting PlayStation games over to PC won’t “ever come at the expense” of creating a solid lineup on consoles. The aim is to use the PC games to reach new audiences, and PC is the easiest platform to do that.
Sony Interactive Entertainment Japan Studio is ‘Reorganised’
After rumors had been doing the rounds for a while, Sony finally confirmed Japan Studio was being “reorganised”. The studio behind Ape Escape, LocoRoco, Gravity Rush, Knack, and Legend of Dragoon was merged into Team Asobi with the sole intention of doubling down on the popularity of Astro’s Playroom. Functions like external production, software localization, and IP management of JAPAN Studio titles were passed on to other PlayStation studios. Despite the move, Sony insists the Japanese market remains “incredibly important” to the company.
Over the following months, several high profile developers departed the studio, including Gavin Moore, Shunsuke Saito, Kentaro Motomura, Masaaki Yamagiwa, Teruyuki Toriyama, Keiichiro Toyama, Kazunobu Sato, Junya Okura, and Masami Yamamoto. Many have gone on to form new studios, including Bokeh Game Studio who is developing the recently revealed Slitterhead.
Six Days in Fallujah Reannouncement Causes Controversy
Six Days in Fallujah is a first-person tactical military shooter that allegedly depicts the true events of the Second Battle for Fallujah in 2004. Originally announced in 2009, the game caused so much controversy over its romanticised depiction of real-life events that it was dropped by publisher Konami. The game was re-revealed in February, but if the new management thought all of the contention had died down, they were sorely mistaken.
The game claims to include personal stories, photos, and video recordings from more than 100 Marines, Soldiers, and Iraqi civilians who were present during the battle, but it was criticised for its apparent ignorance of the fate of Iraqi civilians. Several people, including ex-servicemen, were skeptical of the game’s intentions. They claimed the game’s sole purpose is to recruit for the US army, something vehemently denied by publisher Victura. There were arguments over whether the game was or wasn’t making a political commentary. Victura CEO Pete Tamte’s tone deaf statements weren’t helping the situation either. Despite all of this, the game is still due to be released towards the end of next year.
Development Finally Ended on Bioware’s Beleaguered MMO Anthem
Anthem was released in 2019 to a very lackluster reception. A series of updates were released to address its many issues, but developer Bioware fell behind schedule as various development staff were moved onto other projects. After a lengthy period of silence, the team confirmed they were working on Anthem NEXT, a complete reinvention of the game. This was still a long way from completion when the Covid-19 pandemic arrived and made things even worse. After an internal review by EA in February, the game’s fate was finally decided.
Development of the Anthem NEXT update was cancelled, although the game’s live service continues to run as it did when the decision was made. The fate of the development team that was working on the game was unknown, although it is thought they were moved onto the development of Dragon Age 4. Bioware will also have a new Mass Effect title in development soon, so at least the studio is keeping busy.
Our Favorite February 2021 Anecdote
Most people were still struggling to get their hands on a normal sized PlayStation 5 console. YouTuber ZHC decided to go one better and spend $70,000 on a 10-feet tall, 500lb PS5 console. And yes, the console that is 100x larger than a normal PS5 does actually function as a normal console, although the controller was bigger than he was and needed multiple people to operate. I wouldn’t even get that thing in my house. ZHC and a group of five friends then competed to customise the console over a period of 100 hours. After the results were announced, he also gave away numerous normal PS5 consoles to Children in Need.
PSLS Game of February 2021: Persona 5 Strikers
There really isn’t a lot that Persona 5 Strikers does wrong. The combat is rewarding, the story is interesting, and the characters/setting are fleshed out, all with a good soundtrack. It’s by no means a perfect game, but what is wrong really isn’t anything that impacts the wider experience. This game did such a great job with something new, blending in a few different game types, that now I really wish Persona 3 and 4 had done the same thing. Those who enjoyed Persona 5 will love getting the band back together for another adventure with a new gameplay style, falling in love all over again. For those new to the series, you won’t feel like you missed a beat at all.
Come back tomorrow for another look at the most prominent news from 2021 as we move into March and April. If you missed it earlier, be sure to check out our recap of January.