Something extremely interesting has been happening this generation. The PS4 has been establishing utter dominance over the market, selling at a record breaking pace, even as the competition struggles to keep up. With gamers all around the world flocking to it, the PS4 is also seeing a glut of third party support from developers around the world. Third party developers, whether European, American, or Japanese, are choosing to support the PS4, and increasingly, support it exclusively (at least as far as consoles go).
The PS4’s ease of development and third party friendly policies are seeing smaller, independent game developers flock to it. As the PS4 continues to sell and do well, it is even seeing a sort of mini resurgence of mid tier games, with its install base now finally providing the kind of stability in numbers needed to support mid tier game development again.
In the process, the PS4 is establishing a highly varied games library, and we are possibly seeing in the making a new age PS2, which similarly commanded an almost de facto monopoly when it came to console game development. Most ingredients for the PS4’s success have been in place for a while – indeed, western and indie third party support has been synonymous with the PS4 ever since its launch, and the console has sold at a record breaking pace ever since it first released – but some final pieces of the puzzle only now fell into place. Consider, for example, Japanese game support- the PS4, since launch, has seen some scattered third party games from Japanese companies, but these last few months have been absolutely crazy.
Since November, the PS4 has seen Final Fantasy 15, The Last Guardian, Gravity Rush 2, Tales of Berseria, Yakuza 0, Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8, Resident Evil 7 (multiplatform), and Nioh, with Nier Automata, Persona 5, Ni no Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom, Tekken 7, Ace Combat 7, Marvel vs Capcom Infinite, Valkyria Revolution, Dragon Quest 11, and Gran Turismo Sport all slated to launch for it in the coming months. The big deal? A lot, if not most, of these games are actually exclusive to the PS4.
This is Japan putting forward its best foot in years, at least its best foot since the heyday of the PS2 began to wind down. The best games of this year so far have all been Japanese, and most of them have been enabled simply by the PS4’s existence.
"The PS4 is establishing a highly varied games library, and we are possibly seeing in the making a new age PS2, which similarly commanded an almost de facto monopoly when it came to console game development."
Japanese games are only one of the many pieces I was talking about, however- consider mid tier gaming, now finally seeing a sort of minor resurgence with the PS4. We are seeing games like Farming Simulator, The Surge, Ride, Styx, Toukiden, Sniper Elite, RIME, and Vampyr, among others, as mid tier games, all returning to getting full fledged retail releases on consoles again. This is a far cry from the heyday of the mid tier game during the PS2 era (and earlier), but we are seeing some signs of life here again, as mid tier games seem to be reaching an equilibrium of profitability once more.
The end result of all of this is that the PS4 now stands as the ultimate dedicated gaming system for this generation. There is no type of gamer, no genre of game, no size of title, that is not well served on the PS4. No matter what kind of game you like, you will find it on the PS4- and in so many cases, you will only find it on the PS4. Indeed, as far as consoles go, the PS4’s lead in terms of exclusives over the competition is mountainous, and it continues to grow with each passing week. As Japan finds its stride again, and chooses to support the PS4 (what with it being the only viable system for them to support), as indie game developers go with PS4 due to its ease of development, larger install base, and Sony’s developer friendly policies, the PS4’s library continues to swell and grow- and the install base continues to grow with it.
"Not only did it have the bulk of the games that were available on the Xbox or GameCube, including some of their best games, but it had almost twice as many games all of its own, from around the world, across all genres and tiers of games. No matter what kind of gamer you were, you were probably going to be very well served, even best served, with PS2, if for the sheer quantity of titles it had in each genre."
This is, indeed, the kind of dominance the PS2 saw in its day. Sure, a lot of its biggest hits were shared – Grand Theft Auto, Metal Gear Solid, Burnout, Resident Evil, SoulCalibur, Need for Speed, Prince of Persia – and for hardcore western games, you went with Xbox, while for Nintendo games and quirky Japanese support, you picked GameCube. But unless you were a hardcore fan of Nintendo, or of formerly PC only developers who had flocked to the Xbox en masse as soon as it had released, the PS2 had you covered. Not only did it have the bulk of the games that were available on the Xbox or GameCube, including some of their best games, but it had almost twice as many games all of its own, from around the world, across all genres and tiers of games.
No matter what kind of gamer you were, you were probably going to be very well served, even best served, with PS2, if for the sheer quantity of titles it had in each genre. Sure, Halo was a better FPS than anything on the PS2, and no PS2 action adventure game came close to The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker– but on PS2, you’d get two dozen great shooters, and two dozen great action adventure games. Why limit yourself to just one of each?
And that’s the case with PS4 today- its library is so massive, and so well rounded, that at this point, there is no reason for a fan of any kind of game to not pick the PS4, at least at first. Sure, the PS4 might not have a racer as good as Forza, or a platformer as good as Mario, but it has a lot of racers and a lot of platformers that fans of those genres should appreciate. On Xbox One and Wii U, they would ultimately be stuck with far more limited offerings, and only within some genres.
"And that’s the case with PS4 today- its library is so massive, and so well rounded, that at this point, there is no reason for a fan of any kind of game to not pick the PS4, at least at first."
Of course, some things are different between the PS2 and the PS4- the PS2 commanded an enormous amount of true exclusives, games that were released only for it and no other system- not the PS1, not any handheld, not the PC, and certainly not the Xbox or GameCube. The PS4, in contrast, shares a lot of its ‘exclusives’ with PC, PS3, PS Vita, or 3DS. While it does have quite a few ‘true’ exclusives too, more of its exclusives are ‘console exclusives’ than ‘true’ exclusives. And of course, that is a reflection of the kind of market that we are in today- with game development more expensive than ever before, supporting just one platform, no matter how successful, is extremely risky for most games, unless there are specific demographic considerations.
With porting being as easy and cheap as it is these days, for most games, it simply does not make sense to restrict themselves to just one platform. Just in case the game fails, your bets are hedged by simply having a larger audience to sell to, and therefore more volume of game sales too.
The fact, then, that the PS4 still has as many exclusives as it does, and that it still gets so many games that neither the Xbox One nor the Wii U get, is a testament to its utter, sheer dominance. In as much as something like this can happen in the context of the present gaming market and its conditions, I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that the PS4 is the PS2 of the “modern day”.
Long may it reign.
Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, GamingBolt as an organization.