The Real Gamer

A blog for gamers by a gamer.

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Console Wars and GTA V, Diablo III and The Last of Us.

     Gamers rejoice! Less than two months away from the PS4 launch and a tad over two months away from the Xbox One launch! Soon we’ll all be playing on new systems with new games and new controllers….or will we? My first question today is what the turnover might be initially and will the games look that much better; also how the console war has heated up and if Diablo III better on console.

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The depth of emotion this game showed makes me excited for the next generation of consoles.   

 I’ll start off with a quick review my time with The Last of Us. This game has, to me defined this generation in a way few games ever have defined a console. TLOU is an emotional ride and defining experience from beginning to end. It gives us a glimpse into true human survival and in a post apocalyptic world a vision of what surviving would require. I actually played through the single-player three times and then started another new game plus. It’s story telling and realness gives the player an emotional connection with the world and it’s characters. Defining games like this is too difficult and can only be called masterpiece.

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Diablo III is better than many RPGs out today.    

Diablo III is also coming to PS4 as well as already out on PS3 and though I was going to wait, I had a hard time not wanting to travel the darkened fields of Tristram. I was pleasantly surprised and glad I did and have conquered Nightmare mode, and now find myself in Act II of Hell mode. I read a few forums, spoke to my friend who played on PC and from what I see so far, the item drops/loot is better and though the graphics are slightly less pretty, the game plays awesome. I hope many console owners will try it out. I think they will enjoy it very much.

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GTA V is the swan song this generation deserves.     

The game that many think is a great swan song for this generation GTA V. How to describe it….? It’s a unique mix of driving, shooting, tactics and fun rolled into one game. I have to agree with the reviews I read in that it’s the most fun I’ve had in GTA since GTA III. I have to say if you have children as I do, anyone under 17 definitely should not play this game. There are so many expletives, sex scenes and more nudity shown than any game I’ve seen with the exception of BMX XXX. Rockstar really did a good job of making what we all know the M rating defines. For years the anti-gaming folks have forced the hand of the ESRB to rate games a certain way. What has shocked me is that many of those who detest the medium fail to see the parallels in TV and Movies, let alone print magazines that only 17+ are able to watch or purchase without adult supervision. I guess it’s no surprise though, gaming is to blame for people doing stupid things like movies and TV in the 80’s, comic books in the 60’s/70’s, or dancing in the early 1900’s. Apparently the precedents get overlooked and the real game being played is a political one…alright off the soapbox now and on to the console wars.

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     Microsoft keeps changing it’s story, backtracking, and may finally be gaining ground…and as I say that I spoke too soon. New reports suggest that Ryse: Son of Rome runs at 900p, that Forza 5 is showing degradation at the Tokyo Game Show(TGS). Just when I was getting excited for the Xbox One, they dash my hopes again. I mean c’mon! Hopefully this is just Alpha game problems or Beta issues but who knows. None of us do until launch. Same thing goes for the PS4, which is looking mighty awesome so far. Killzone: Shadow Fall alone makes me proud to have pre-ordered it first. Many things can change between now and launch so lets hope each of the Big 3 get their act together and ready for this fall.

Hiroshi Yamauchi former Nintendo President

     Speaking of Nintendo: Hiroshi Yamauchi, the visionary behind Nintendo’s journey into the video game market passed away. When I read the articles about this man, it took me back to the first days I owned a NES and sat in front of my little TV playing Super Mario Brothers, Duck Hunt, and Track and Field. My hope for Nintendo’s future is that they gain some momentum and succeed. 

     That’s all I’ve got for today. I’m considering making this a weekly thing, possibly shorter. If you like the idea let me know! 

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The Next Gen Battle: Post E3 Impressions and Predictions

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To my readers, sorry I haven’t posted recently. Time to catch you up.

I’ve watched the news feeds each day since E3 and the needless to say its been ugly no matter what side you’re on Sony, Microsoft or Nintendo. Here are some post E3 impressions and predictions.

Nintendo

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Not a strong showing at all. The rumored game teased by Miyamoto himself was nowhere to be seen. Mario, Zelda, Luigi, Pikmin 3…..and zzzzz. Boring. C’mon Nintendo! Where are the third party games? They couldn’t even get them in there booth. It’s upsetting for me as a long time Nintendo supporter who once owned more antique Nintendo stuff than some museums to see such a poor showing from them when the console they created, though under powered by next gen standards, has so much potential. My grade: C-

Microsoft

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Finally they pull their heads out of their collective butts. Sadly during E3 there was no 180, though I’ll discuss the 180 later. Strong first and third party showings. Ryse: Son of Rome looks very cool and God of War like. The button timing sensitive thing may wear thin after hours of slowing down to kill one guy over and over again. Hopefully somewhere in gameplay mechanics there will be options to use much less to accomplish more like hitting the X button and RB button to pull of a range of quick combos. Titanfall looks beautiful and next gen on it’s own. The seamless transition from soldier to mech pilot gives me hope that this won’t be a mech game that players can just run and gun in, but a balance of the two genres. Dead Rising 3 was a great surprise for me. I watched the press conference a few times just for this game. During the demo an air strike was called in via a tablet, and it appears this will be a good chance for second screen experiences to shine early on Xbox One. Project Spark also peaked my interest as a creation tool for my own type of game. I’d really like to play a game like this as who hasn’t dreamed of creating a world in your own way? Microsoft’s 180 and the Kinect 180 have changed many gamers minds on whether they will purchase a Xbox One or not. Giving game ownership back to the gamers was the right move.  I’m still very much on the fence on whether I will or won’t eventually buy one after launch, but I’d like to see it in action up close and watch closely to see Microsoft’s policies and whether they sway back at all first and with a “November 2013” release window we’ll know in a few months what Microsoft has up it’s sleeve. My grade: B+

Sony

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Playstation 4 was the star of E3 and we all know why. Sony basically hit the high points of game ownership, used games, trading, buying, etc and put a nice cramp in Microsoft’s plan to cut into used game sales. They even went so far as to making a commercial. 

Sony has a sense of humor and gives Microsoft some food for thought….

Sony decided to focus on the gamers and games, showing more Killzone: Shadow Fall, Infamous: Second Son and announcing The Order: 1886, along with many other 3rd party games, Indies and finally showing off the box, which reminds me of the PS2 in some ways. In my opinion it looks great and something I’ll be proud to own. Playstation Vita got a little love, though many say that’s not enough to save the handheld. Tearaway definitely got my vote for a It is a great device, better in my personal opinion than any handheld on the market. Like many I agree it’s the lack of compelling applications and software that are hindering it’s growth.

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PS Vita needs some help to shine

A price drop at Gamescom and a second PS4 SKU with a Vita bundled in would definitely breathe some life back into it. The PS3 could use a price drop as well with the PS4 at $400, a $200 sku and a $150 option (there is a confirmed PS2 Super Slim 12GB model) would help sell the aging console. Also a The Last of Us Bundle at $250 sounds like a good option for Sony. Since E3 Sony has reached a deal with Viacom to stream some of it’s content. The PS4 is a likely outlet for this content as well as other Sony devices namely the PS3 and PS Vita. Sony has in some ways began to position itself where Microsoft has been trying to since the Xbox 360 launched, as an all in one entertainment hub. If Sony were to offer high quality streaming of current cable or satellite programming the game (forgive the pun) will have changed literally. Sony has not confirmed a release date yet, but rumors ranging from October 21st through November 25th have been flying since E3. My opinion is that Sony, who has been surprising everyone could launch as early as Oct 21st, but I’d bet on the 7 days from October 28th through November 5th. Why? Big third party game releases that are system sellers: Battlefield 4, Call of Duty: Ghosts, Assassins Creed IV: Black Flag, and a few other notables including Watch Dogs coming a few weeks later. Sony is due to announce it’s release schedule and details at Gamescom Tuesday August 20th at 1pm EST during a press conference. 

I will be writing once Gamescom has passed and deliver my impressions next weekend. Once again thanks for reading and please let me know what you think! Click the ASK ME ANYTHING link on the right of the page, mention me via twitter or via facebook.

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E3 2013 Review, Xbox One Impressions and Microsoft Backs Down

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I’ve remained silent for a few weeks. Waiting and watching the stories unfold, the companies have come out and said their piece. Now that I can make informed decisions and form coherent thoughts, here is my opinion. I’ll start with the Xbox One reveal.

     How do you unveil a console? How do you explain to the core audience that this generation, one of the best generations in gaming is over and a new one is on the horizon in 4-6 months? Microsoft failed to explain and detail this to gamers when they unveiled the Xbox One which, is a horrible name by the way. When during their meetings did some guy get the bright idea to name this thing Xbox One? They talked about TV functionality and how great Kinect 2 will be without showing any gameplay and not detailing anything. The only thing they had said was DRM as it pertains to used games, 24 hour check-ins and sharing of games was now up to them/the developers and not us gamers. They took away our power to share. Gamers responded and Microsoft seems to have changed that, which I’ll return to in a minute. The console itself isn’t as bad looking as I thought when I first saw it, though the box isn’t different from many bluray players you see. The controller seems refined, though I’ll leave assumptions until I hold it in my hands. The functionality appears to be neat, though I don’t see myself switching my TV on with it.

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Tom Clancy’s The Division impressed many at E3.

     Ah, E3 2013, what awesomeness abounds! I really anticipate E3 each year because I love games. Watching Microsoft’s conference I was expecting the message to be. “We’ve changed our minds!”, but all we got was silence on the information front from them. The games they showed looked epic! I was expecting more from Titanfall and though some were impressed I found it to be a sci-fi Call of Duty clone. Ryse looked great and like a lot of fun. Microsoft went straight for the God Of War fanbase with that title. Dead Rising 3 looked epic and super fun to play. I wasn’t impressed by what was shown of Killer Instinct and the attempt at humor was completely inappropriate. Sunset Overdrive looked cartoony and uninspired, not Microsoft’s fault Insomniac just has fallen off since Resistance 3. Halo tease was neat. (Who didn’t see that coming?) Many games we actually saw were also PS4 titles as well, so I can’t say those titles had me super excited for the Xbox One. 

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The PS4 machine finally revealed.     

Sony came out and got the movie and apps part out of the way quickly.  We all knew it was coming and they had to talk about the media functionality, movies and what apps were coming to PS4. One tidbit many missed was the event streaming that they are bringing to PS4. I like the ability to stream a UFC match or WWE event to my console on demand. I’m sure Microsoft has something similar in mind. Sony then came out and said here’s our PS3 stuff, talked about Vita very little which is disappointing, then finally it was PS4 time. Wow Sony started talking about the exclusives, showing gameplay from Knack, The Order:1886,  Infamous: Second Son, Killzone: Shadowfall and Drive Club. Just when you thought it couldn’t be any more awesome….announced a price many media outlets were saying wouldn’t happen: $399.99. If coming in $100 cheaper wasn’t good enough, they announced no DRM, no lending restrictions and no used game restrictions. Basically they said to gamers, we hear you and we value your opinion. This blows everyone’s mind. I realistically thought they had to have some restriction based on Microsoft’s Xbox One policy.

     As far as the game makers conferences, EA and Ubisoft really showed some amazing stuff. Battlefield 4 looked awesome, The Division looked like a game I’ll spend a lot of time playing. Madden Looked new and finally different. Call of Duty: Ghosts was as expected but impressive. Indies were out in show for both, though a stronger showing for Sony. I’m really looking forward to the launches. Here’s hoping EA doesn’t screw us over like Madden 06 again…that game bricked 2 of my launch Xbox 360’s. 

     My personal opinion on used games will never change, the idea behind it is that if you buy something it’s yours. I have PS1, PS2, PS3 games, Xbox, Xbox 360, PSP, DS, Dreamcast games, Sega CD, Sega Genesis, Nintendo, Super Nintendo, Sega Master system, Panasonic 3DO, Atari 2600 games. They all have one thing in common, I can pop them into their respective devices and play their single-player or split-screen experiences to this day. What happens when the things you buy are no longer yours to give? What happens when this upcoming generation dies off? What can we pick up and experience when the console generation has passed and the company shuts down the only way for the console to operate? Hence why the reversal of heart may have started on Microsoft’s part. 

     Apparently they have reversed all game sharing and borrowing policies, used game fees and such today. 

Link to Xbox One news information (http://news.xbox.com/2013/06/update)

     What does this mean for gamers? I’m not exactly sure yet. How this late into the launch can they change all this? Don’t they have developers under contract with these rules in effect as part of them? The answer is yes they can and have for now. You can change things like this with simple firmware update! This is what day one you’ll have to update to in order to play offline without a check in. Wow that took a ton of thought right? The plan as I see it was to come out with Xbox One with these new policies and gauge consumer reaction. They got a resounding ASCII middle finger (literally on their blog and forums) and many gamers have already jumped ship. Apparently 95% to 5% PS4 to Xbox One preorder preference was the punch to the gut they needed to wake them from their slumber:

An internet connection will not be required to play offline Xbox One games – After a one-time system set-up with a new Xbox One, you can play any disc based game without ever connecting online again. There is no 24 hour connection requirement and you can take your Xbox One anywhere you want and play your games, just like on Xbox 360. 

- Trade-in, lend, resell, gift, and rent disc based games just like you do today – There will be no limitations to using and sharing games, it will work just as it does today on Xbox 360.

- In addition to buying a disc from a retailer, you can also download games from Xbox Live on day of release. If you choose to download your games, you will be able to play them offline just like you do today. Xbox One games will be playable on any Xbox One console — there will be no regional restrictions

     I hope Microsoft has heeded the warning gamers have given: We buy new products that warrant the purchase new. We buy used because it’s how we find games we didn’t consider at a higher price point. Firmware can change at any time, so Xbox fans best not get too comfortable. Gamestop has said 70% of game purchases are new games. What drives that? The trading of used games. In today’s economy $59.99 is still a tank of gas, a meal at a nice restaurant, or a movie with your kids. So do I buy a game with a new coat of graphics paint that was the same as the last iteration I bought (I’m looking at you Call of Duty!) or take my kid to see the new Man of Steel movie? Don Mattrick clearly makes enough money that these decisions don’t affect him as they do the core, which his arrogance enraged many I spoke to about this subject.

     If Microsoft want to compete with Sony this next generation/PS4-Xbox One, they need a gamer at stage front like Sony put Mark Cerny, PS4’s system architect. Get back in touch with the core audience who made the original Xbox and Xbox 360 so popular. Get someone passionate to talk about these games and the console. That will bring you back in the eyes of Xbox fans. 

     Next generation began with Wii U, though it was more like a whimper at it’s launch. Nintendo is hopefully going to finally get in the ring and compete. Their 1st party gamers are looking good.

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Pac man: The original Pimp. 

     Those are my thoughts! Fell free to comment here, on Facebook or Twitter! 

Filed under video games e3 2013 the division xbox one ps4

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Xbox One Revealed

The Xbox One console, controller and Kinect 2.

So this week we had the Xbox One reveal and while the console and Kinect 2 features are impressive I’m left with many more questions than answers. First I’ll give you my impressions of the conference and content presented. 

The console itself looks sleek and sexy. Surely this thing will become the new fingerprint magnet of the house. The controller looked refined and friendly and I’m curious how the trigger rumble will feel and immerse users in gaming. The bluray drive included now gets them in on the bluray movie market. The television integration while cool seems singular and more for the U.S. market. The UK and other European/Asian markets who don’t have set top boxes as we do here for television may find this quick switching feature pretty useless.

Forza 5 was said to be in engine. Was it?

Moving onto the games…I guess Forza 5, EA Sports, and Remedy’s new IP were games though no real in game footage was shown. This part left me wondering what were they thinking.  Of course Activision was there to show off Call of Duty: Ghosts, which everyone who has a brain expected. The game looked nice, and the modeling looked impressive and what we saw in the videos seemed ok depending on what parts were actually in game. I’d have liked to have seen actual game play for each title, which Sony showed in droves during the PS4 Meeting in February. 

The promise of 15 exclusive titles in the Xbox One’s first year was awesome. Eight of those are new IP apparently including Quantum Break from Remedy. I’d venture to guess Forza 5 and Halo 5 to be among the 7 others from returning franchises. 

All in all I came away disappointed with the conference as a whole, though the feature set they are putting forth is intriguing. It’s apparent Sony went for the hardcore fans and Microsoft went for the entertainment buffs who game. Microsoft isn’t receiving great feedback for their reveal due to questions concering how long the console can be offline before it will not play games or lock down. Also feedback concerning used game DRM have arisen that many fans find hard to swallow. 

With June 10th right around the corner both Sony and Microsoft should be prepared to offer answers to stiff questions gamers as this E3 may determine who gets ahead this console generation.

Filed under xbox one gaming therealdeelow

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The Stigma of Gamers

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This week I am reflecting a bit after seeing some back and forth about who has the best games between platforms.

     As I reflect on my gaming career I realize that not all gamers experience games the same. What I mean by this is when non-gamers talk about the subject they approach it as if they have never picked up a controller or even clicked a mouse. They don’t realize they have played a game before, a word game, puzzle game or arcade game. It’s a common misconception that video games are console and PC only. Here in lies the divide I’m talking about. In the last three generations the break has become more prominent as a distinction has been made between console gamers and PC gamers. With the introduction of the iPod and mobile phones like the iPhone and Android platforms its become a three way fight.

     This distinction has become a problem amongst gamers though. It has become a petty and ridiculous argument over who’s gaming is better, who has better graphics, who has better frame rates and who has the best experiences. We can all agree that the best current PC parts outshine each current console and even the next generation consoles and mobile platforms in terms of sheer power. The problem I have with the PC elitist thoughts here is that even high end PC games/console games take years to even reach their graphical limits. Take PS3 and Xbox 360 for example. Their best looking games have really hit in the last 12 months and the next 12 months. These consoles started being designed around 12 months after the previous generations release. This means the PS3 and 360 were high end 2001-2003 technology being upgraded over time up until around a year before release. Its 1st quarter 2013 and we’re just now getting new hardware meaning a 9-10 year upgrade in technology. Cell, though amazing wasn’t as big a selling point for Sony’s PS3 like they’d hoped. The YLOD (Yellow light of death) was an issue also, a solder problem specifically because game consoles are considered toys, they cannot have lead based solder. This became a problem later on in it’s life cycle when motherboards developed micro fractures in the solder. Microsoft had the RROD (Red ring of death) fiasco with Xbox 360 from day one of launch, also a solder problem. Nintendo had a graphically inferior console with few cross-platform games being brought to it because of unequal graphics capability. It did however have a large fan base due to the Wii’s low price and casual family game style.

     Core gamers would hope each would learn from its mistakes and not make those mistakes again. Nintendo has come early to the show with Wii U and seems it hasn’t learned from the last two generations at all. Did they do well with Wii? Sure. Problem is that success may not follow them into next gen. Mario and Zelda can only carry you so far Nintendo. The tablet idea seems cool though the replacement cost of the controller could be it’s biggest problem. Eventually you have to reach core gamers and with so many announced franchises skipping Wii U its losing this next gen fight already. Microsoft has yet to announce anything, though rumor suggests it’s not far off. Sony has announced PS4 with developer excitement and promises it boasts to fulfill but has a lot to show yet before crowning them victors. I can say Sony has excited me with their approach and I look forward to seeing more.

I dislike the thought that we as gamers are segregated into these categories. PC vs Console vs Mobile vs Casual….the list can keep going. Can’t we all just agree on that games evolve over time, platforms gain strength over time?  If game makers get complacent, if they become blinded by the bright light of better graphics and begin to lose sight of the one thing that drives the industry: unique experiences, then the thought that next generation will be the last console generation may not be far from a reality. We gamers of all spaces should unite on the common ground of the best experience for our money and gravitate to the platform where those are for each of us. Be excited that other gamers play a game on iPhone or iPad that we have or they are thrilled their friend got new Killzone game for PS4 and platinumed it. Another friend has Halo 5 and rocked out all the challenges and on their Galaxy S4 they’ve beaten all the levels with 3 stars to match your score.

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There are more that three gaming platforms.

     Many young gamers today forgot about the years between Atari and Nintendo’s NES consoles. Gaming died because the company failed to innovate, began producing basically shovel ware and forgot the fan base that made them popular. It’s up to us as gamers to keep in check the industry we enjoy so much. If we let innovation stumble by not giving our feedback or if we let the “Big 3”, PC and mobile game makers and console designers decide what we enjoy, instead of being vocal then we are to blame for our hobby dying off as it did for Atari years ago.

     So my fellow gamers…it’s time to lay down the preconceptions about the platforms and form a common front. Be informed about the games you buy, read previews, watch videos and from experience don’t limit yourself to one platform of gaming. Be proud of the title “Gamer”, it’s not derogatory it describes anyone who’s clicked a mouse to play Solitaire, played Pong or Pacman in the arcade, picked up a controller or touched a screen to play a mobile game.

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The Next Generation Gaming is Coming…

After watching the Sony PlayStation Meeting last night, I like most have many questions about PS4 and how it’s new controller will be utilized. I have more answers about PS4 though than I do about Microsoft’s next gen console Durango/720. There are some harsh critics of the unveiling. A lot has been cleared up over the last 24 hours through Sony President of Worldwide Studios, Shuhei Yoshida. The thing that I personally question is Sony’s statement that the console will ”get to know” me. Just sounds creepy that the console will recognize my gaming habits and suggest titles for me to buy. Who knows it may be a positive. The software is rumored to recognize types of games I play and put ads up based on this, similar to how Facebook has placed ads about what you “like” on friends news feeds. That was about the only negative I took away from it.

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Everything else I saw got me excited to play PS4 games. I mean, that’s what the announcement was about: Games. Sony said PS4 is the gamers console. I think most of the harshest critics of the event were being nit picky to get hits on their websites. Its a good indication with 1UP and other gaming journalism sites laying off and closing down that restating the obvious or turning positive into negative is redundant. It’s annoying as a gamer who sees competition as a positive to hear every other guy on the major sites being such downers. If you take the time to actually watch the press conference, then read the rather poorly written articles about Sony’s supposed missteps, it becomes obvious why these sites are being shuttered. So what? Sony can’t decide to strategically hold back some information and details (specifically the console itself) for GDC, Pax East, and E3? Microsoft clearly was blindsided by the announcement. The awkward silence about the next generation Xbox and quip by Major Nelson on Twitter after the PlayStation Meeting tell me they are on the defense. I am a gamer. I have both Sony and Microsoft machines in my gaming center. I have spent countless hours playing Halo Reach/Halo 4, and Mass Effects 1-3 on my 360. Gears of War, Fable, etc have brought me hours of entertainment.

Not long ago my wife made an observation I found curious. Other than Mass Effect 3 and Halo 4, I haven’t picked up the Xbox controller nearly as often as my PS3. I realized after looking at my collection of games, most of my friends are on PSN, most of my games were PS3 titles. I have come to realize which console also in the last year has offered more value in its run in my living room. The PS Network service in competition with Xbox Live was one sided for a long time until PS Plus came along. Some great games offered for free had turned the tide of the 50/50 split I’d been on for a long time. The meeting showed how PlayStation has rededicated themselves to GAMERS. Bungie surprisingly put a shot across Microsoft’s bow. Since they went independent they’ve said they are excited to bring their game to PlayStation gamers. They followed this with news that PS4/PS3 will get exclusive DLC. No word on if this is a timed exclusivity or just content only for PlayStation platforms. There are more details coming out including high def pictures of the controller, detailed specifications and HD video of the meeting and the on stage game demos.

Watch the videos and judge for yourself and keep an open mind.

One thing is for sure the next generation is coming….this fall and Sony just landed a haymaker.

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