An Open Letter To Sony (From A Grumpy, Old Guy)

Dear Sony:

Congratulations on the recent wave of positive publicity generated by your announcement concerning the holiday 2013 release of theDual-Shock-4_contentfullwidth PS4 gaming console. It must be very gratifying to receive the type of response you have thus far. With the announcement of the Xbox 720 looming, however, I’m sure you will not be content to rest on your laurels.

Since you are probably working very hard to work all the bugs out of the new system before it hits the market, I will not take much of your time today. The intent of this letter is not to criticize, but rather to present you with a viewpoint from someone who enjoys playing video games but is not necessarily a “gamer.”

I have been a PlayStation user ever since the first console made its debut in the 1990s. I hesitate to even estimate how many gaming hours I have put in since then, although I am sure it would pale in comparison to many of your customers. Many other gaming systems have come and gone since that time, and (with the exception of the Nintendo Wii) I have stuck with the PlayStation.

As years have passed, I have noticed the experience of playing video games has gone from a largely solitary experience to one that is increasingly interactive in nature. In days gone by, a “multiplayer experience” would consist of either you and a group of friends gathered together or you and family members or roommates. It was a more personal, communal experience. Today, it is entirely possible to never lay eyes on your favorite gaming partner.

Regardless of how multiplayer options have evolved, however, I have remained a largely solitary gamer. I do not dedicate a lot of time to playing video games, so my skill level is usually far below those who dedicate hours to them. I also prefer to experience the storylines of games by myself. It’s sort of akin to reading a good book. And, finally, as a working husband and father, I do not have the income to dedicate to the type of high-speed internet connection required to make online, multiplayer gaming an enjoyable experience.

The issue of internet connections only appears to be growing as gaming consoles evolve. The PS4 will apparently not play any of the PS3 discs I already own. While you have mentioned a “cloud” system for retrieving older games, I am guessing the cloud will require a fairly decent internet connection to draw anything down in a reasonable amount of time. Everything I have read speculates disc-based systems will be a thing of the past soon anyway. While I understand this would cut down on costs for game manufacturers, it would also require system users to upgrade their internet connections just to keep up.

While the number and scope of new innovations on the PS4 is impressive, the fact remains in my case that I have no use for any of them. I never engage in multiplayer campaigns. I have no desire to jump into the middle of someone else’s game. I am never so attached during a gaming experience that I can’t simply turn off the system and start over, so being able to continue my game on the PS Vita (which I don’t have any plans of owning) is not an option I’m particularly interested in either.

As a result, in order to buy new games with better graphics and gameplay, I will have to pay for a whole bunch of features I do not even want, and even if I do purchase the system, I will likely to have to spend even more money upgrading my internet connection at home. I certainly do not begrudge you for appealing to the highest common denominator. Dedicated gamers should be able to access the options they want in a gaming system.

I, therefore, propose a solution. Rather than producing only one gaming system geared toward modern gamers, why not produce a less expensive system that will be primarily disc-based and will not include most of the bells and whistles the full-blown PS4 includes? The price of this console could be significantly less than the regular PS4 console, and it would still offer gamers like myself the features we are looking for. You could produce them in limited quantity, since the majority of buyers won’t want a console like this anyway. You could also make it backwards compatible, since you’re likely not going to get a whole lot more money out of customers like myself on new games anyway.

I am relatively confident this suggestion will not be taken into account, and that is understandable. I simply wanted to offer you the opinion of someone who likes to play the occasional game but is not necessarily interested in the direction gaming consoles seem to be headed. Thank you for your time.

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