KZ3 Going Up Against Socom 4 = Sony Shooter Suicide or Delays Inbound?
With such titanic first and third shooters coming up next year for PlayStation 3 exclusively (Socom 4 and Killzone 3) and both touting PlayStation Move support, it’s really quite astonishing that both of these titles are expected to be going for release within the same 30 day period. This type of overlapping release seems extremely risky at best in my opinion and possibly an indicator that Sony Computer Entertainment is not confident in the benchmark of sales of one or the other. Many will argue that these games are not the same at all, and they would be right. Socom 4 is set to be a more heavily squad-based experience with a third person camera and it is not a sci-fi title like Killzone 3.
Although Killzone 2 brought some interesting aspects to the first person shooting genre such as a built-in clan tournament ladder system, an interesting take on the squad-based system, and creative classes, the two games still share a competitive role against each other as far as consumers are concerned. Many people who would like to pick up Killzone 3 and Socom 4 will have to make a decision to choose either one or the other early next year. This begs the question, is this Sony shooter suicide? And if so, which game is going to take the hit, or will it be an even spread causing both games to be held back due to jittery launches?
We all know that with online multi-player games it is the community that makes the game. One of the key points in building a strong community for a shooter is that initial week. It seems like this is when most of the people who are going to be foundational members of the society to grow with say Killzone or Socom will join up and give it their all. During these periods it is important for said founding members to see a growth, general reception, and large sales count for their game of choice. These are all comforting factors that prove to a shooter fan that this game is here to stay, no need to trade it in, and no fear of wasted time leveling up and customizing everything.
For some these factors are irrelevant, but they still effect through chain effect. Let me give you a brief example. If you pick up a shooter game, and people start quitting it because of bad reception, low sales numbers (which they assume to mean no one plays it online), or just the desire to play that other game, you are more likely to quit yourself because you see your friends quitting out and the overall player count dropping. In some games it even becomes hard to find a match at times due to these problems. So inevitably, all of these factors unfortunately do effect the health of an online shooting community. If you build it they will come, but will they stay?
Many out there could argue that these are both strong titles with their own strong followings who might be loyal Killzone or Socom fans and buy the title of their choice without delay, there are even possibly thousands of fans who will buy both on day 1 and not think twice about it. This is great, and surely shows the dedication some PlayStation gamers have to their shooters. But again, the issues that effect the mainstream players will inevitably trickle down and effect the rest of us. Remember that we are likely spending $120 between these two games, and many people will want to trade in one or possibly both of them if they don’t feel it meets their expectations.
Launching the games together in such a short period confuses me. I almost wonder if A) Sony has no faith in one or the other title selling well and would like to mask that failure by providing an excuse for said title, B) Sony would like to provide gamers the ultimate variety and throw caution to the wind in terms of maximizing sales, or C) Everyone at Sony has simply lost their minds. Of course the more likely scenario is D) One of these games is about to get mega-delayed.
When I asked the staff about this, opinions varied but for the most part the staff thinks this is a little crazy. As our new guy Chris points out Microsoft has Gears of War and Halo, but they launch these pretty far away from each other and in doing so you’ll find more people pick up each title that wouldn’t necessarily have done so if they had a new iteration of the other released alongside it. It’s like if you head to the store to pick up ice cream, they don’t have your favorite flavor today but they have your second favorite. You’ll buy your second favorite and be happy about that purchase, but if your favorite was there you probably wouldn’t give it the time of day!
Maybe the factor we are all forgetting here is the fact that Sony is now juggling a massive amount of titles to schedule. In the shooter genre alone we can now look forward to new titles from the Resistance, Killzone, Socom, and MAG franchises, it can’t be easy dictating when these will release as a game needs to be dropped strategically, but also at a time when the graphics and features will still be relevant. In other words, when a game is finished they are best to get it out the door as soon as they can to achieve the biggest splash, but what happens when two are finished at the same time? I can’t help but feel like one of these titles will be delayed even further out, and I worry that it’s going to be Socom 4.
With both supporting the Move, I personally don’t mind them releasing back to back like this, it gives me much more variety. But speaking from a business point of view this is disturbing to see and the outcome will almost certainly not be massive sales for both titles. The true potential of each game’s selling power may be in danger here, imagine if Modern Warfare 2 and Black Ops were released the same day, would either sell as much as they can separately?