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Launch titles, pls? Games critical to reception of PS4 event

PlayStation 4 Screenshot - 1137545

Ask anyone what the main draw of owning a PlayStation 3 is and most likely they'll respond with “the exclusives.” Over the PS3's lengthy life cycle, which appears to be coming to a close, fans have seen the release of several critically acclaimed titles. Think about it -- in the console's nearly seven-year lifespan, we've had games like inFAMOUS, Uncharted 2 & 3, Heavy Rain, Journey and Resistance 3to name a few. The list can obviously go on an on, and it's one of the many reasons the system has sold over 70 million units. When it comes to exclusives, it's hard to find a system that does it better than the PS3.

It wasn't always like this, though. When the PS3 first launched in North America on November 17, 2006, the exclusives were less-than-stellar. Sure, we had Resistance: Fall of Man, which received a positive response from critics. But we also had games like Genji: Days of the Blade -- not exactly the quality we've been spoiled with of late. Granted, developers have had plenty of time to harness the PlayStation 3's power over the years. Still, to the PS3's credit, it became the fastest selling home console Sony ever launched. In fact, the system reached the one-million mark faster than the PlayStation 2.

With the PS4 reveal presumably on the near horizon, what can Sony do to ensure the PlayStation 4 stands out among its competitors? With Nintendo having launched the Wii U and Microsoft planning its own next-gen Xbox reveal, the market is going to be more competitive than ever before.

As of right now, neither Sony nor Microsoft have commented on the speculation that either system is even in the works, but do we really need them to? Come February 20, that all may change; Sony has planned what looks to be one of the biggest gaming events we've ever seen. Granted, we don't know exactly what we'll see other than “the future” of Sony.

While I fully expect the PlayStation 4 to be revealed, I don't think Sony will talk much about the system's specs. Nor should they; I highly doubt the amount of RAM will be the ultimate deciding factor between the PS4 and the next Xbox. From what we've heard, both systems are pretty similar in power anyway. So what will really help the PS4 stand out?

There's one fundamental difference in the way Sony and Microsoft are approaching the next-gen consoles. It's no secret that Microsoft is moving into more of a “home entertainment hub” with the next Xbox. Back in March, Microsoft revealed that the amount of time average U.S. gamers spend on various Xbox 360 entertainment apps has surpassed the time spent playing games online through Xbox LIVE. This has led Microsoft to explore other avenues of entertainment. While this could be true for the overall population, what about those who really care about games? Sure, Microsoft has Halo, Forza, and Gears of War, but I think we can all agree that the Xbox 360 exclusive lineup pales in comparison to that of the PlayStation 3's.

This is where Sony can truly take advantage of being the go-to platform for gamers. Right now, there's a stigma that PlayStation is for “hardcore” gamers. Regardless of the connotation associated with “hardcore gamer,” this is the type of mentality I want my console and its platform holder to have. The fact is, I can get Netflix or Hulu anywhere. As it stands now, both of those services are offered on the PS3 as well. So will additional entertainment services really be the driving force behind which console gamers choose?

If it is, then consider Sony's PlayStation 4 to be dead already. I just don't see it competing with the Xbox from an entertainment hub perspective. Sony has found its niche, and that niche is games. Come February 20, I hope they have plenty of games to reveal for their next-gen console.

Whether or not they choose to reveal those games is another story. But this time around, I fully expect Sony will have an even more impressive launch lineup of titles to offer. Think of the franchises that have been established in the PlayStation's previous iterations -- Uncharted, LittleBigPlanet, Twisted Metal, KillZone, MotorStorm, God of War, Tokyo Jungle, Warhawk... you get the point. This vast library of exclusives will be fully available for Sony to take advantage of with the PlayStation 4. Judging from recent rumors, it seems like some of these may be ready to go when the PlayStation 4 launches.

The Last of Us

I think we all agree The Last of Us will be one of the PS3's best titles. But what if I told you it could also be a launch title for the PS4? It's not too hard to imagine -- especially with the recent launch delay. We already know Naughty Dog has the staff to manage that undertaking. Suddenly, the PS4's launch already has a blockbuster title with tons of anticipation.

Now take into account the other titles that have been rumored. We have Media Molecule, the studio behind LittleBigPlanetworking on a secret title. Is it any surprise they mysteriously updated their website to include a teaser just days before the assumed PS4 event?

What about Evolution Studios? Not long ago, MotorStorm RC game director Paul Rustchynsky tweeted “10 days” in reference to what we believe is the February 20th event. Could a MotorStorm announcement be planned as well?

To be perfectly frank, I don't have the answers. I certainly have expectations, though, and one of my biggest is that Sony continues its trend of delivering some of the best exclusive titles in gaming. Tune in to GameZone on February 20th as we track Sony's highly anticipated event live.

Matt-liebl-profile
Matt Liebl You can follow Senior News Editor Matt Liebl on Twitter @Matt_GZ. He likes games, sports, musicals, and his adorable dog, Wrigley. And his wife.
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