Microsoft Dabs on Sony Backwards Compatibility
Nintendo has been eating Sony’s lunch for several years now. They have not done this in a grand showy way, Nintendo has instead simply been content to quietly chill in the background, capitalising on all of Sony’s mistakes by offering a quality platform that is in step with the requirements of gamers, both worldwide, and in their domestic market of Japan. Now Microsoft wants in on the action, and subtlety is not going to move the needle for them, so they have no choice but to go big. To that end Microsoft have dabbed on Sony in two significant ways this week.
The big news over the last week was that Sony would be shutting down the online stores for the PS3, Vita, and PSP – effectively ending their support for any Playstation hardware generation before the PS4. By contrast, Microsoft continue to support a fairly wide selection of games dating all the way back to the original Xbox. Aside from the PC, Xbox is pretty much industry best practice for corporate game preservation, and this is a huge selling point for Xbox Series X. Sony shutting down infrastructure for the PS3, Vita, and PSP gave Microsoft a huge opportunity to flex their backwards compatibility muscle, and they did not fail to capitalise on this.
Responding to a Twitter comment regarding Xbox’s new Game Pass cloud features, the Xbox Twitter account responded:
As time goes on, it becomes more important than ever that we ensure gaming icons and classics are preserved for new and old players alike. Whether your first time playing Morrowind is from 2002 on your Xbox or 2021 on your phone, we’re excited to share these experiences with you!
This certainly comes off as a smack across the nose to Sony. It also makes for quite a favourable contrast to Jim Ryan scoffing at people who still want to play PS1 and PS2 games, because their graphics are ‘bad’!
Microsoft Dunks on Sony Anti-Japan Agenda
Another area in which Nintendo is absolutely killing Sony is in terms of Japanese gaming content. The industry-leading Nintendo Switch is a Mecca for anime-style video games. While Nintendo is releasing these games by the armload, Sony is busy banning any vestige of Japanese cultural expression. This has had the kind of impact that one would expect within the Japanese market, with Nintendo Switch consoles flying off the shelves, while Sony can barely move units of their newly released PS5. Microsoft has seen this weakness that Sony has in Japan, and view it as an opportunity. They probably know that Japan will never be a success story for them, and Microsoft may even lose money by participating in the region – yet, if Microsoft is somehow able to start outselling Playstation in Japan (even if only very occasionally) then that will be a significant PR coup for them, and it will make Playstation look awful.
Phil Spencer indicated this change of direction in September of last year, ahead of the launch of Xbox One X – but at the time it was not possible to determine how seriously Microsoft were treating this:
We learn from the past, and this year, we’re scaling our global vision with the goal to launch our products in Japan at the same time as the rest of the world, including our new console, which will launch day and date with our global markets.
Since the release of the Series X the Xbox Game Pass has quickly amassed a collection which includes a pretty large selection of Yakuza, Final Fantasy, and Kingdom Hearts games, along with other assorted titles from Square Enix, Capcom, and Bandai Namco. Any Japanese gamer who does not care about physical ownership could certainly do worse (at the moment) than paying 850 Yen a month in order to access this content. But how to sell this to Japanese people?
In order to sell Game Pass in Japan Microsoft did something that current year Sony would refuse to even contemplate. This week Microsoft paid Hololive Vtubers Luna and Botan to do dedicated streams showcasing Game Pass, where they played a selection of games on offer. The combined views for both streams indicate that Game Pass has reached an audience of over 210,000 people. Microsoft is a woke Californian social justice company just the same as Jim Ryan’s Playstation – but the difference is that Microsoft is not too proud to make money. Vtubers are cute anime girls who do cute things for the delight of their largely male audience. This is why Sony would never even consider going this route, and it is also why Hololive’s involvement with Game Pass makes for such a satisfying slam dunk on intransigent Sony. It really brings into sharp relief Sony’s gender agenda against anime content and male heterosexuality.
Balan Wonderworld Sucks!
It really does. How much does it suck? Enough to (presumably) compel somebody to hire a bot-army in order to astroturf Metacritic with 10/10 reviews for the game, apparently. One presumes this was carried out by someone with some degree of financial exposure to the project, though it is always possible that the perp could be some mouth-breather with a ‘Big the Cat’ body pillow. Either way, the fake reviews do not seem to have worked.
Ever since Square Enix released their demo for Balan Wonderworld people could see that the game was rubbish, and then on top of this they decided to release the game on the same day as Monster Hunter Rise, just to ensure that it would be good and buried. This had just the sort of result that one would think, with the game selling a mere 2,100 copies in Japan. The game was released on Nintendo Switch. And only sold 2,100 copies. Wow!
Square Enix obviously sent the game out to die, and it is starting to look deliberate. Like, Square Enix knew that Balan Company were having a difficult time developing the game, and knew that the game sucked, and so decided to release it on the same day as Monster Hunter Rise so that everyone just forgot about it. It is very obvious that Square Enix are not giving Yuji Naka an inch of wiggle room to salvage his game, and because of this it kind of looks like they are angry at him for developing it, and want to make sure that this miserable failure is stapled to his forehead for the remainder of his career.