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The Great Migration: Current Online Communities
Posted on Monday, March 4 2013 @ 13:49:29 PST

This member blog post was promoted to the GameRevolution homepage.

Late in February, it was announced by Sony that the PS4 would not support backwards compatibility. Well, what’s going to happen to my clan, elite status, the war on Tachanka, etc…? When we transitioned from the PS2 to the PS3, the emphasis was still on single player/local multiplayer. Backwards compatibility addressed the needs of the single individual to continue playing from their game libraries, some of which were two console generations in the making. Folks still huddled in a dorm, bedroom, or basement and hung out with their friends to play video games. There were several online offerings but these were insignificant in comparison to today’s market.

In the last few years there has been a significant push and realization of bringing console gamers into the realm of online gaming communities. It works well on the computer… let’s try to tweak that model a bit and emulate the experience for console gamers. Success!! It worked; initially, it seemed as though multiplayer modes were being tagged on to everything… specifically some of our most cherished single player experiences/franchises. Some implementations of the concept were successful… Mass Effect 3, Uncharted 2, Dead Space 3, to name a few. Others were not so successful… Mindjack, RE: Operation Raccoon City, etc… I would say that over time they have gotten much better as a whole at creating an online experience that not only engrosses the individual gamer, but fosters online communal relationships. These communities are still in relative infancy in comparison to pc communities, such as Eve Online, WoW, Guild Wars, etc. Although infantile, they are still strong and also far more significant now than when the PS3 arrived on the scene.

So, I hear you on the no backwards compatibility to *cough* keep cost down, but you gotta tell me what you are going to do with the communities you have spent time and money developing. As I pondered the different strategies which may be utilized to alleviate this issue I happened upon the article by Keri Honea titled, “Uncharted 3 Multiplayer Goes Freemium as of Today”. The article focused on Uncharted 3 Multiplayer being offered as a stand alone free-to-play title. It made me think of some of the positive implications of such a model. In the comments to the article there were a couple questions as to why Uncharted 3 multiplayer was going free to play rather than a game with a more robust online community. I thought to myself because this may be a way to migrate the current not-super-popular but still active online communities upon release of the PS4.

The idea would be that although no backwards compatibility would be implemented for the sake of cost containment, you could still create these self-funded stand-alone multiplayer experiences. An example would be dropping the single-player campaign from Call of Duty Black Ops 2 (I think certain franchises generate enough revenue to warrant a port…CoD being one of them, whih I will use simply for illustrative purposes), and then releasing the multiplayer stand-alone on PS4 at release or around the same time as the first iteration of next-gen CoD hits the market. Like Uncharted 3, the multiplayer would be free-to-play with micro-transactions funding the maintenance of the servers and support. It would be interesting to see these stand-alones on the PS4 at launch via the new network. Enhancing the list of games available at release, while also minimizing cost impact since the communities and technical foundations for the games are already there. They have information on the most active online communities, so wouldn’t it be more efficient to incentivize this pool of consumers whom you have been grooming the past few years at launch?

You are not selling a PS4 to the individual! You made it that way. You are selling a PS4 to 2, 3, or 4 individuals at once. If I have the cash for a PS4, but the majority of my friends are still playing online PS3 games because they can’t afford the console… it just delayed my purchase. Sony, based on your last launch I am guessing you want to secure as much of a market segment as possible in the first few quarters post release. This is one way to do that. Sony took steps in the right direction with cross-platform play and now with Diablo III coming to PS4, let's focus on these online communities, people!

In conclusion, please for the love of God, find a way to support, not abandon the communities you have created, developed, and fostered in the past few years, Microsoft and Sony. It would only be in your best interest.

The opinions expressed here does not necessarily reflect the views of Game Revolution, but we believe it's worthy of being featured on our site. This article has been lightly edited for grammar and image inclusion. It has been submitted for our monthly Vox Pop competition. You can find more Vox Pop articles here. ~Ed. Nick
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