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What Loco Roco has to teach us about Sony

posted on July 10th, 2006 by jay

Sony has defined itself as high-tech. The Playstation bested the Saturn at producing the new graphical style sweeping the nation(s) – 3D. The PS2 had an emotional processor that would listen to your washing machines personal problems and keep your whole house in harmony. And the PS3 is a gourmet meal that makes all other systems look like that Chinese buffet that gave you food poisoning last summer.

A brilliant strategy for Sony. In a broad sense, the industry is entirely dependant on technology so it seems to follow that the company with the best technology will triumph. Wait, these consoles can play games, too?

Well, that changes everything. The PSP, Sony’s super powerful handheld, is being memory slot raped in Japan by an inferior system that can’t play movies and doesn’t even use an optical format. The Nintendo DS’s success has made at least someone in Sony’s ranks realize that simpler, more creative games are still worth designing as Sony itself developed the critically acclaimed Loco Roco.

“This is a Super Nintendo game, right?”

Good for Sony, now I actually want a PSP. But this is also terrible for Sony. Loco Roco being one of the best games on the high tech PSP makes Nintendo look smart — they based their whole handheld on quirky, creative titles.

Thinking about the implications of Loco Roco has also elucidated Sony’s faulty logic behind the PS3. The success of the PS2 is an indicator that technology doesn’t mean much. A creative hit like Katamari Damacy, which clearly inspired Loco Roco, was not a graphical marvel. Even beautiful PS2 games like Shadow of the Colossus and God of War were done on the weakest of the three systems. Think of how God of War could have looked on an Xbox. Who gives a shit, the game was fun!

The PS2 has shown how good games and not technology sell systems. For all intents and purposes, the PS3 is the 360. Hardware innovation may sell systems, as Nintendo hopes, but, unfortunately for Sony, adding more RAM and more processor cores is not innovation, it is just basic evolution.

By creating Loco Roco, Sony has defeated itself. It has shown that gameplay and creativity trump graphics, sound, and processing power. To force the whole debate into a strained analogy: The PS3 is not a gourmet meal; it is a diploma from an Ivy League school. You learned about as much as you would’ve if you had gone to a good community college, but it cost you a lot more.

It can be argued that if Loco Roco bombs then this whole editorial is moot. There are enough gamers who will realize what Loco Roco represents, but if the title does poorly then it means little overall. Perhaps the most delicious prospect for Sony detractors is the idea that no matter the fate of Loco Roco, it makes Sony look foolish. If it sells and is the next big thing, then what I’ve said is only reinforced. But Sony has also gone on record as saying they don’t need exclusives from third parties any more and that their own games will carry their systems. If Loco Roco fails to sell, Sony still looks bad, not just because they made it but because it runs contrary to their plan for success.

2 Comments

  1. Staticneuron said on July 16, 2006:

    I am curious as to how you equate Loco Roco to say that Sony has it wrong about the hardware and the technology.

    Your pointing out games Like shadow of the collosus just shows that they are right. At the time that the PS2 was concieved and released into the market it “was” the most powerful system on the block. Granted the dreamcast could handle more colors, the PS2 still had an edge.

    This is the frame of thinking that you can go by…. Sony creates a System. They can make it as powerful as they want to and then leave it up to game devs to use the hardware. If a game dev wants to create a quirky game that is not focused on graphics…. fine. But if a Dev wants to use the graphics to help him create and fill out his world as realisticly, abstract or stylized as possible then he has the ability to do so. I have played many fun games that were scant on graphics but then again ther are alot of games that do try to exploit the fullest of a systems power while trying to remain fun. And those titles is what I am looking for. So is it horible that Shadows plays on a PS2 with PS2 graphics? No. But what if Shadows came out on the PS3 with the PS3 graphics exploited? I for one would love to play that game. A prime example to see how graphics change experiences and gameplay why not try playing title that come out on all of the systems. King Kong, Hitman: Blood money and GRAW are the most recent examples of why graphics matter.

    “There’s no question that having the Grand Theft Auto franchise helped us a lot and helped us sell some units, but I don’t think the battle would be any different with or without Grand Theft Auto.”
    “The days of locking up exclusive content from a third party and having that be key to your strategy is really a dangerous road to go down because I think with the cost of development, not many developers can afford to do exclusivity. So, really what defines the uniqueness of a platform from a software standpoint are the offerings that you have from first party.”

    I really understand where they are comming from. I don’t think that they are saying that they do not need third party games, but “using third party exclusives as a key strategy” is actually a bad thing to do as well. Either extreme will turn out bad. IMO lack of exclusive and unique third party titles has been the downfall of nintendo since the 64. But they keep thier heads above water because they have an incrediably strong line up of 1st party games.

    As far as gta goes I already put my commented on that one on another site

    “Let us say that every sale that A GTA title has, made someone buy a ps2 (you know because GTA is that good.

    # Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (13.63 million) [439]
    # Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (13.44 million)
    # Grand Theft Auto III (11.42 million)

    (according to wikipedia)http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_best_selling_computer_and_video_games#Sony_PlayStation_2

    To date 103.6 million ps2’s has been sold.

    That would leave 65.11 million consoles behind. Still the leader of the pack by a healthy margin. Added to this Chances are the people who bought 3, went out and bought the other iterations, which makes the number smaller.

    And contrary to popular belief here (IMHO, of course) the majority of GTA owners had a PS2 before the games came out.

    I know people think that not needing GTA seems “arrogant” But if you refer back to the wiki list I am pretty sure that there are well over 100 series that will help influence people to buy the ps2.

    GTA wont make or break A console in this gen. It will help but thats about it.”

    If Sony looses gta it would create a small ripple but I for one, want to get the PS3 for more than one title…. actually for more than fifteen, But thats just me. Maybe People love goin out and buying consoles for one game but I really do not think that is the case with the PS2 nor will it be the case with the 360.

  2. Horatio said on July 21, 2006:

    I like your analogy about Ivy league education, but you forget the benefit of these schools is the networking. similarly, ps3’s dominance will depend on whether or not Sony continues to dominate 3rd party support and have the most good (whatever definition of that word you use) titles out. well, a small caveat to this being that the initial price point could be a big issue… but…

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