The word is officially on the street: The PlayStation 4 and the next Xbox will be hitting the streets in time for Christmas, up against each other in a rare console showdown. Microsoft has a countdown to E3, and Sony might be revealing PS4 information officially as soon as next month.
And really, big deal. Both of these consoles are by all accounts pretty much the same thing when it comes to actually playing games. What matters are the games themselves, and Sony hasn’t kept what franchises will be coming to the PS4 much of a secret.
Why? Because of their collections.
Collections of games, especially summaries of franchises, aren’t uncommon in gaming. You get together a bunch of games in a franchise, and put that out at a budget price.
This is designed to do two things: One, to help cash in on the hype of an upcoming game. You might notice that the first two BioShock games are getting the “franchise summary” game with Infinite headed to stores this March, and that Rockstar threw together a games collection to capitalize on Grand Theft Auto V‘s hype machine.
Secondly, it gets players new to the franchise up to speed on the story and gameplay mechanics, and hopefully makes them fans clamoring for the next installment.
And, to be honest, Sony has been pretty much as transparent as glass about what franchises it owns will be launch titles. How? By looking at their release schedule.
So far, Sony has put out or announced six collections of their exclusive franchises. God of War got one, and God of War: Ascension arrives in March. The Sly Cooper series got one, and Sly Cooper 4 is indeed on the way. Ratchet and Clank got one, and indeed soon after a new Ratchet and Clank game was released.
But inFamous got a collection, and there has been absolutely no news of an inFamous 3; in fact, we don’t even know what Sucker Punch is working on as they’ve yet to announce it, but considering the first game doubled the sales of the second, and Sucker Punch made very clear that they wanted to make a third one, it’s safe to say a third one is on the way.
Killzone received one, and although one could argue upcoming Vita title Killzone Mercenaries is the focus here, it doesn’t seem to be arriving until late 2013, and it’s an odd choice to plug a game so far away. And Resistance received one, but Insomniac is off the franchise entirely, working on co-op third person shooter Fuse. That last is not a sure thing considering poor sales of the third game, but it is still a property Sony owns.
Microsoft is playing things a bit close to the vest, but honestly, that’s largely because outside of Halo, Forza, and arguably Fable it doesn’t really have any first-party exclusives worth mentioning. In fact, Microsoft is likely to try and change that with the next Xbox as it’s been recruiting first-party talent under the radar left and right. Halo 5 is on the way, but ready by next year? Unlikely.
In short, we’ll be seeing two companies go head-to-head, one with a new suite of IP, and one with some established games. That’ll be… interesting.