Another Thursday, another Throwdown where the Stealthy Box staff ponder a topic concerning the goings-on within the games industry and offer their individual takes on the situation. This week brings a high-stress topic for those picking up a PS4 on launch day: What would a rumored delay of Sony’s racing title Driveclub mean for the launch lineup?
David Wales: I think that because Ubisoft delayed Watch Dogs and now Sony may potentially delay Driveclub a lot of people want to believe that this is a huge blow to the PlayStation 4′s overall launch lineup. In a way, I think I can agree, but in the end, I don’t think it matters as much as people think it does. Honestly, I think this has the chance of being a positive development. People who were planning on picking up either game can now pick up a year of PlayStation Plus instead (or win it on our forum for free). This will give them access to a ton of games while these two delayed titles are still being developed.
I also think this will create a more consistent stream of titles throughout the launch year that is much needed for any console. Right now, we have no idea how many titles will be available on the retail side of things from March through June. However, now it’s likely to include inFamous: Second Son, Watch Dogs, and potentially, Driveclub. This keeps a consistent stream of games coming for you to pick up and enjoy. Just ask Nintendo what it’s like putting out a console with zero major releases for the six months following launch. It’s not an easy thing to deal with.
Scots: We would all do well to keep in mind that a blow to the launch lineup is not necessarily the same thing as a blow to the console or to the company. There is no question that many will be disappointed if Driveclub is indeed delayed until 2014. Personally, I was very disappointed when the news broke that Watch Dogs is delayed. It was the game I was most anticipating at launch by a wide margin, and the only one I was planning to pre-order (in addition to Driveclub, which is set to be free via Playstation Plus). Now, those plans of course will have to change.
Now, does this mean that I am any less excited about the launch of the PS4, or about the console itself? Absolutely not. It means that I will experience other games first. It also means that there will be a couple of high-quality, big-time titles dropping early in 2014, which may even serve as a shot in the arm to the inevitable post-holiday lull.
In short, my answer to the question: Yes, this is a blow to the PS4′s launch lineup. That said, I don’t foresee console pre-orders being canceled. I don’t foresee gamers abandoning the platform before it even hits. And I don’t foresee much, if any, momentum loss to what continues to be a brilliantly-executed launch campaign.
Travis Tucker: I think it is terrible loss for the PlayStation 4 launch lineup. I know I’ve heard more than one person say that they were going to purchase a PS4 and just play Driveclub for free with their PS+ subscription until something like inFamous: Second Son came out in February. Now that this option is gone, I could easily see a few people cancelling pre-orders.
Now let’s consider that Sony only had three first party titles set for launch – Killzone: Shadow Fall, Knack, and Driveclub. Only having two first party titles at launch doesn’t look very good for Sony. While third party support makes up for that, almost all of those games are going to be available on current-gen systems, most of them a few weeks before the PS4 launches. The question has to be asked: Is it worth fighting to get a PS4 at launch when there are only a couple of unique titles play?
Watch Dogs, I feel, is the one third party title that could have broken the rule, because it looked like a next-gen title from the moment Ubisoft debuted it at E3 2012. I think people would have been willing to buy a PS4 to experience Watch Dogs the “way it was meant to be played”. With that being delayed as well, now the PS4 is a next-gen system with only two unique first-party titles and a collection of what could be written off as ports of games we can play on the PS3 now (or very soon). Not to mention, people will still be playing Grand Theft Auto V, Batman: Arkham Origins, and The Last of Us (multiplayer and DLC). Any delay at this point can do nothing but hurt the launch lineup.
There are other factors to consider, such as the PS3-to-PS4 upgrade plan, but ultimately Driveclub is going to be a big loss for the PS4 launch lineup. Will it cause massive amounts of people to cancel their pre-orders? Probably not. However, with both it and Watch Dogs being delayed, it will put doubt in some minds. While these delays do add to the slate of high quality games coming out next year and allows the developers extra time to add polish, I think they will hurt the launch in the short term. However, a set of releases like this should help keep demand high during the first half of 2014, so it isn’t all doom and gloom.