Can the PS4 Be Great for MMOs?
The PlayStation 4 is set to launch by the end of this year, and it's going to be quite the piece of hardware. But is it going to be a good fit for MMOs? Larry Liberty, executive producer of DC Universe Online, certainly thinks so. He recently told NowGamer: "I would expect that, with all of the amazing features that have been announced for the next PlayStation, that it will be a great platform for MMOs."
Is this a valid assessment of the console, or is he just blowing hot air because he knows SOE will be bringing DCUO (as well as PlanetSide 2) to the PS4 later this year?
To be fair, SOE isn't the only publisher willing to take a shot on the PS4. We've learned at E3 that Elder Scrolls Online and Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn will both land on the PS4. Gaijin Entertainment is bringing their WWII-themed MMO War Thunder over to Sony's newest console, and Digital Extremes has recently announced that Warframe will be a launch title for the PS4. While CCP hasn't made an official announcement yet, it also sounds like chances are favorable that we'll eventually see DUST 514 make its way over. There are even rumors (take them with a huge grain of salt, of course) suggesting the console could be home for Blizzard's top secret MMO currently known as Titan.
While once a genre associated with numkey-binding spells and keyboard-and-mouse controls, the MMO has already begun to prove its success in the console market. In fact, DCUO is one of the many examples of this. More recently, Defiance surprised just about everybody by becoming immensely popular on the Xbox 360. Fans who tried to get a 360 copy on launch day without having preordered it will attest to this. With shooter-style MMOs especially becoming more and more popular, a lot of gamers are willing to trade in their mouse and keyboard for a twin-stick controller.
Also, community is one of the cornerstones of any good MMO, and Sony seems to be making a strong push for making the PlayStation 4 a console with a community built around it. So much so that the PS4 controller has a "share" button built right into it, which is supposedly going to make sharing gameplay videos over social networking sites like Facebook and Ustream a snap. Unlike Nintendo, who's building a brand new social network from the ground up with the Wii U's Miiverse, Sony is taking advantage of the social networks that you already frequent, imbedding your PlayStation experiences into the Internet experiences you're having on a day-to-day basis. It's a smart move on Sony's part.
How about power? The PS4 is supposedly a powerhouse of a console. Now, I could just give a rundown of the technical specs that Sony has given us so far, but words like "teraflop" don't mean a lot to the layman. Instead, let's look at a statement made by Rajat Taneja, Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer at EA in a recent article on LinkedIn: "Both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 have adopted electronics and an integrated systems-on-a -chip (soc) architecture that unleashes magnitudes more compute and graphics power than the current generation of consoles. These architectures are a generation ahead of the highest end PC on the market and their unique design of the hardware, the underlying operating system and the live service layer create one of the most compelling platforms to reimagine game mechanics."
Essentially, he's saying the PS4 and Xbox One will initially outperform the best gaming rigs out there right now. Of course, he could be speaking hyperbolically here, as it seems like a bit of an overstatement. Still, he's a guy who works with this sort of technology for a living, so he probably has a fairly good idea of what he's talking about. I think it's safe to say that when it comes to bringing massive worlds over to the PS4, power's not going to be a problem.
So even though it's easy to criticize Mr. Liberty's statement for being a bit self-serving, he definitely has a point. I won't go so far as to say it's a 100% certainty that MMOs will thrive in their new PS4 home, but it's easy to see that the potential is certainly there. That should be exciting for anyone looking forward to a bright future for MMOs.