Pushing buttons: Sony’s PS5 price hike shows the game has limits | games

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I am back from a week of running around a convention center in Cologne at Gamescom drinking German beer from deceptively small glasses, only to find that Sony – in this economy! – raise the price of the PlayStation 5. The cost stays the same in the US but increases by up to 20% everywhere else; in the UK it will be up 6%, from £449.99 to £479.99 (or £359.99 to £389.99 for the cheaper non-disc model). The hike is steepest (21%) in Sony’s heartland Japan.

With middle earners cutting their bills and low earners facing heartbreaking choices such as between eating and heating as energy prices double this winter, this news has thrown me into a period of late capitalism’s rage. Many are on strike because people can no longer afford to live. Small businesses will close because they won’t be able to absorb endless increases in costs. We are all worried, many of us are struggling. This is not the time to pass increases in manufacturing costs on to customers. Sony displays an unfortunate arrogance that reminds me of the early days of the PS3, when then-PlayStation boss Ken Kutaragi suggested that people should simply work more hours to be able to afford the console’s introductory price of $599. The fact that the rise is highest in the two Sony-dominated markets – Japan and Europe – shows unseemly complacency.

Sony described the move as “a necessity given the current global economic environment and its impact on SIEs [Sony Interactive Entertainment’s] Business”. But when times are tough, it’s never the corporations that take the hit, are they? Instead of building up reserves to weather lean years – like Nintendo did when it suffered its first and only losses in the lifetime of the unsuccessful Wii U, released in 2012, year after year companies are simply charging consumers more to keep their profits.Not surprisingly, the accepted reality is that it’s right to put shareholders ahead of customers.despite a drop in sales Incidentally, up 2% on the PS5 year-over-year, Sony’s overall operating income is up $2.3 billion in the first quarter of 2022.

As far as I’m aware, this is the first time a gaming console has experienced a post-launch price increase. There were plenty of slightly embarrassing cuts: the PlayStation 3’s outrageous introductory price didn’t last long, and by the 1990s Nintendo was forced to drop the price of the Nintendo 64 and offer a free game as compensation to disgruntled early adopters. Microsoft told Video Games Chronicle that the price of the Xbox Series X/S will remain the same (ranging from £250 to £450 depending on the model) and the cost of the Nintendo Switch will not go down either, company president Shuntaro Furukawa promised in June. That keeps Sony in the unenviable company of Meta, which recently increased the price of the Oculus Quest VR headset.

The most successful video game companies often succumb to hubris. Fresh from the runaway success of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System and Game Boy in the ’90s, Nintendo launched the overpriced and unwieldy (though still popular) Nintendo 64, and was overtaken by Sony’s original PlayStation. Sony, meanwhile, took years to recover from the uncomfortable years of launching the cumbersome and expensive PlayStation 3 after seemingly believing itself unbeatable after selling 158 million PlayStation 2s. And while it was busy messing around, Microsoft eventually won hearts in the video game market with the excellent Xbox 360 – then gambled away its lead with the Xbox One, a console that seemed more interested in people’s concept of a Selling “entertainment centers” than actually letting them play games.

The PlayStation 4 may have outperformed the Xbox One by more than two to one, but Sony isn’t untouchable. People aren’t going to like this price hike, and they certainly won’t like their timing when they’re staring at their gas bills in horror. I think it would be justified if PlayStation suffered reputational damage from this.

what to play

Fascinating… immortality. Photo: steam

Sam Barlow, creator of the intriguing mystery games Her Story and Telling Lies, has released a new game. It’s called immortality and I was absolutely enchanted. The game’s fictional actress, Marissa Marcel, starred in three films, but none of those films were released, and now she’s gone. As you sift through an archive of footage, scenes, and samples from her career, you’re bound to find out why. The craftsmanship and cleverness of this footage – the perfect detail from the film’s story, the standout performances, the way the underlying mystery gradually reveals itself to you in a way that feels natural and self-directed – is mind-blowing. I couldn’t tear myself away from it. It’s more than a game, more than a series of interactive film clips: it’s a small, self-contained intellectual world.

Available on: Smartphone, PC, Xbox
Approximate playing time: 6-10 hours

what to read

lies of P
Bloodborne-esque…lies of P. Photo: Neowiz/Steam
  • Lies of P caused quite a stir at Gamescom last week: it’s a Bloodborne-style gothic action game based on, er, Pinocchio and made in Seoul. I was sold when evil Geppetto showed up at the trailer.

  • Masahiro Sakurai, the game design genius behind Super Smash Bros, has started a YouTube channel to spread wisdom and highly informed opinions about games and their development. He’s always interesting, even when he gets technical.

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question block

reader Maisie looking for a recommendation: I really enjoyed Disco Elysium: I liked the atmosphere, the length (17 hours) and the game mechanics. What should I play next?

I bounced straight off Disco Elysium – it has something to do with the tone of the writing – but I love a lot of games with a similar cerebral vibe. Here are some of them: Return of the Obra Dinna mystery game set on a boat; Sunless Sea and Sunless skytwo literary exploration games; The forgotten city, a Roman time capsule with great characters and dialogue; and of course Planescape agony, the classic computer role-playing game in gold. Its more modern sequel pillars of eternity is also good. And if you’re into fantasy Divinity: original sin and its sequel, like Disco Elysium, are pleasantly malleable when it comes to how your character’s abilities and your choices affect the way things unfold in the world.

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