Sony's Answer to Xbox Live Arcade: Will XLA withstand the Onslaught?

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Matt Barton's picture

I was just reading an interview with Phil Harrison, the head of Sony's worldwide studios, and I must admit I'm very impressed with what I read. Apparently, Sony has recognized the appeal of downloadable games on next gen consoles and have decided not only to embrace the concept, but to pretty much sandblast the competition. The idea is not just to offer small "freebies" and retrogames, but actually pay out for some 40+ premium quality games that push the PS3 hard in all directions. The fact that every PS3 comes standard with a hard drive may make the difference.

The general plan seems to be to spend a lot of money and cast a very wide net. The advantages are enormous--imagine the potential of a few dozen independent developers being paid good money to offer their innovative wares online. We might be looking at the game equivalent of the Sundance film festival here.

Of course, what will likely happen is that most of these new games will vary from lackluster to banal, but there will be diamonds in the rough. We all know how easy it is to dismiss a game just because it isn't an over-hyped 3A title; heck, I don't doubt that there are thousands of amazing games that have been released in the past 3 years that I've never even heard of, much less enjoyed. What Sony promises to do is bring these low-key developers into focus. Let's just hope one of those aspiring developers is a Pazhitnov.

In any case, if there's any truth to this story, I think Sony is going to more than give Nintendo and Microsoft a run for their download dollars.


Bill Loguidice
Bill Loguidice's picture
Joined: 12/31/1969
I think the key

I think the key differentiator for Sony is, for better or worse, not embracing legacy titles on the PS3's download service. They only want new software, as opposed to Microsoft's mix of old and new, and Nintendo's focus solely on emulation. Frankly, I think that's a mistake, as they could have easily negated both of the competing services by offering everything the other guys do and more. Now it's the usual case of each one offering something a bit different, appealing to different types of audiences.

From a community and continuity standpoint, early on it looks like Xbox Live will be superior among the three, but in all other areas each has positives and negatives against the competition.

Bill Loguidice, Managing Director
Armchair Arcade, Inc.
[ My collection ]
[ ]

Joined: 05/19/2006
Xbox Live

I agree that Xbox Live could stand out over the others, however, if Microsoft doesn't fix the issues plaguing Live soon alot of folks may jump ship. I don't the problems affect the Arcade section as I've never experienced a screen lockup on any of those. It seems they only affect FPS's. Tonight we'd try and setup a lobby for a particular set of rules and the rules would change on their own. Very frustrating. One three occassions the maps wouldn't load and everybody got kicked out. We tried different people hosting and the same problems followed everybody, so we don't think it was any one person's box. Still, with all the issues, we still got in about 7 sessions, 7 glorious sessions. 5 more days until Call of Duty 3, so I'll have to put my leave slip in soon!!!!

Matt Barton
Matt Barton's picture
Joined: 01/16/2006
Sony vs. the Rest

Well, (dang, I need to be working, yet here I am!!) I think this bit of hubris on Sony's part may pay off in the short-term. After all, I know that I can play most of those Wii and Xbox arcade games via MAME and other emulators. Sure, that won't matter to the average consumer, but for me it's duplication. If Sony is offering original, exclusive stuff, that'd definitely tilt me in their direction, particularly if it's truly innovative.

mrCustard (not verified)
a few thoughts

-If you want to play the original version of the PS3 "exclusive" Flow, check here

-I love the old games on XBLA! It's nice to "own" a legal version of a classic game. For example, i have never paid for Doom before the Live version. (In '93, it was pretty exceptional to have a credit card in Holland).

-Why is Sony paying for the development for 40 downloadable titles? After all, according to Microsoft, so many want to create XBLA games, they have to turn people down. Surely it shouldn't be that hard to stir up interest among developers? I guess it's a way to secure exclusives, as in the full-price market it's hard to get any. I'm curious to know how many of these games are made by (formerly ;) ) indy developers. I suspect we will see a cut up Namco Anniversary as well.

-I don't expect too many of the downloadable games to be truly innovative. XBLA really only has a few, and these are not the most successful. Flow is pretty nice though.

-The backwards compatibility of the PS3 can prove a bit of a mixed blessing for Sony. Sony made a mistake when they included PSX compatibility. Like Nintendo, they could have made a pretty penny on their back catalog. Offering the service on the PSP won't do much good, i'm afraid.

Gamertag: Custardo

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