Behold a pale horse, and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him.
In the dark winter of my youth two competing schools of interactive entertainment were ever courting for my attention. Looking back I like to remember them as two British butlers serving me my meals. One was heavy, short, clumsy, had a disfigured face and was prone to random fits without any logical reason. This one was named PC and his continued employment grew ever more costly and maintaining him was an ever growing burden.
Often he would limp slowly towards me, dragging his lame leg on the carpet, his head would jerk upwards at me and with a horrible tensing of his features he would utter, “Young master, can I interest you in the culinary pleasures of these strips of festering flesh?”, he would then hold up to my face the crudely made wooden platter upon which the maggot ridden articles lay and continued, “They are freshly peeled off of the buttocks of a most stout bullock, sir.”
I would glance at green pieces of rot and reply, “Now then, PC, these look suspiciously like the ones I refused to partake last week, and the week before that going back for years.”
PC’s wrinkled face would grimace as he explained, “Well, young master, they would be wouldn’t they? Having come from the carcass of the same prized bullock, and all. Sadly he passed away some years ago failing to to produce any offspring, no reason to let him go to waste on that accord, eh. Why, I recon we can enjoy morsels from his bountiful flesh, which grows more tender with each passing year, for decades to come.
On that accord, sir. I am humbly forced to request another raise as I need a new costume and my room is in a desperate need of refurbishing.”
“PC, you scallywag, why are you still in my service?”, I would then often yell, raising my hand to take a master’s privilege with his subject. Just then PC would cower in some corner screaming, “I have smut, young master, smut! Of the dirtiest quality, sir. Only I can get it for you, stay your hand!”.
Indeed PC did have smut, and in an seemingly endless supply, the dirty little bastard. That was what saved him time and time again and ensured his continued employment eons after I had I stopped touching his cooking.
What saved me from starvation was my second butler, the young neat gentleman hailing from the golden isles. Console was his name and he would carry it proudly as he served me the finest choice of Kobe beef. Tendered through daily sensual massages given to the animal by voluptuous maidens.
In time I became curious of this stark disparity between these two persons in my service, how could one shower me with such splendid delights when the other was seemingly out to poison me?
It soon became apparent that the reason was that PC hailed from the west, and Console had trekked in from the opposite east. Each were influenced by the differing schools of though typical for their birth region. Volumes could be written of these differences, but ultimately they manifested in what they each offered. One was stuck in a perpetual loop of bad taste while the other was tapped into a inexhaustible supply of creativity and magnificence.
Cherry-o I thought, this suits me fine, just continue ignoring PC and everything will work out for the best, except for PC, which finally running out of customers for his festering tidbits was left ruined and starving. However, being the cockroach that he was, PC was not so easily rid of. Instead of turning to a life of assaulting unknowing unfortunates from dark alleys, PC and his villainous friends prepared a most elaborate scam. They decided to dress themselves up like the noble Console, they changed their names into something stupidly hip, like something starting with an X, then they started to offer their rotten wares to an entirely new and unknowing clientele, namely those previously belonging to Console.
So, where am I going with this? What does this have to do with SONY? Well, in my opinion it has everything to do with SONY.
A new power is rising.
PC developers have invaded the console en masse in recent years and now lay besiege the Japanese developers. SONY, being Japanese themselves have also gotten their share of scrapes and bruises in the process. But SONY pulled through the worst of it and now it is time to stop licking their wounds and fight back by extend a helping hand to those that in time helped SONY get where they are, the developers in Japan.
Japanese developers make the greatest games, there is no doubt there and anyone who thinks otherwise can get their teeth kicked in by a donkey. But what they have in talent they lack in cold hard cash, specially when compared to the rich giants backing the western developers. Not helping matters is the ongoing shooter epidemic that is rapidly eating away at the minds of young gamers. This flesh eating disease had just about run itself to extinction on the PC, but now it has been unleashed on the console and its destructive nature has been reinvigorated by fresh unknowing victims for it to gorge itself with and pick its teeth with their bones once it is full and satisfied.
Imagine if you will, that for decades the decadent inhabitants of some horrible terrible dark hole have from their isolation been casting jealous glances at their sunsine-and-cupcakes-for-everyone neighbours to the east. Now their dark lord has united them all in one giant murderous army set to cloud out that sunshine and eat all the cupcakes; oh god, not the cupcakes, those are my favorite. In short, the armies of PC are on the move and the council at SONY has to decide if they want to use power of the shooter against the incoming hordes, and be consumed by it, or if they want to walk right up to that dark lord and shove that cursed trinket back up his arse, where it came from and belongs.
In short, the dam holding back the sewage has broken and the entire console industry is awash, but that does not change the fact that the future of the console, though weakened, is still firmly rooted in Japan. Should SONY fail to realise this then the invading west will completely eclipse Japan and the future of the console will become the past of the PC, which let me tell you right now is a very ghoulish prospect.
So far the epidemic has been mostly contained on that other console, the one that is actually a PC in disguise and the reason for this is pretty evident. Look at all the developers working on it exclusively, all of them are from a PC background, so they feel right at home continuing to serve out their festering strips of flesh as they have these last 2 decades with hardly anything having changed. The tools and technologies they use are familiar to them because they are same twisted instruments they used on the PC, so of course they prefer to continue playing in that stink pit, they are used to it after all, the poor creatures.
The only way SONY can combat this epidemic is by trying to recreate what they had with the PS2, hordes upon hordes of ultra talented Japanese developers making what only they can create, original, creative, refreshing, amazing and spectacular games. Right now those developers are in desperate need of financial backing to start working their magic on the PS3. Japanese game budgets do not quite cut it in this new exponentially more expensive generation of consoles. Added to that the PS3 is not doing well in Japan exactly because there is such a small Japanese presence on it, which means that Japanese developers cannot justify the spiraling costs of developing for it. A quick glance at the release schedule in Japan reveals that it is pretty much populated exclusively with western games which with good reason sell like repackaged turds in that region of the globe. This, friends, is a vicious circle, one which can only be shattered by SONY themselves investing heavily in Japanese developers.
The delicate balanc
e of the industry has tipped in a most dangerous direction and right now SONY is bleeding user base on both sides of the pond. I fear that SONY is doing too much to ensnare back the western users and too little to mend things on their home front. SONY might think that winning back the west can be best done by giving them what they seemingly desire right now, shooters, shooters, shooters and more shooters. But that will never work in the long run, I say contain the plague of shooters on the other side and stick to what has worked so well these last 15 years.
Disregarding the ever popular JRPG, Japanese developers don’t like to work in genres, rather games from the same star producer/directors are often surprisingly varied and different from the ones before. This is because Japanese developers are always ripe with new ideas and they like to experiment which is why games from that region have always evolved and avoided ending in evolutionary dead ends.
I say SONY should distinguish itself from its competitor and give gamers original and unique games by throwing their weight behind the people that make them, the Japanese. Unlike shooters that are mostly only popular in the part of the world that has an unhealthy obsession with guns and violence, Japanese games have always have had universal appeal. So focusing on bolstering their Japanese portfolio will help them dig their way out of their unwonted situation where as focusing on western games will just dig that hole into a dark pit that they can never claw their way out of.
If I were SONY I would immediately open up my coffers and grovel on my knees over to the relatively new formed SEEDS studio (now named PlatinumGames) and beg them to take as much of it as they desire. A suspiciously large portion of the biggest Japanese talents have seemingly formed an alliance in that studio and as far as I can tell they are not currently working on anything and are not attached to anyone, so they are ripe for a proper wooing, and they are not alone.
Where else might one find unique titles like ICO, Shadow of Colossus, Katamari, Killer7, No More Heroes, Okami, Vagrant Story and Silent Hill 2? Those games were all groundbreaking in their own right and they are just the tip of the iceberg, what more they are all last generation games. SONY needs to secure a future for such titles so that years from now when we are changing generations again we can look back and list just as many wonderful, weird and unique titles from Japan and look forward to at least as many.
Guest article written by Kamruz M.A.M