Games Inbox: Why I’m not getting a PS5 for Christmas

Not a cheap present (pic: Sony)

The Tuesday letters page is surprised that Game Pass isn’t more popular than it is, as one reader recommends Rollerdrome and Sifu.

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Third time unlucky
Christmas is nearly here and for the third year running I’m not getting a PlayStation 5. This time though it’s not because I can’t get find one in stock but because I can’t afford it. Or rather, I shouldn’t afford it. Like everyone else, I am really counting my money now and this recent cold snap, with three kids, I just can’t justify such an expensive new console for myself. Not given the cost of games as well.

Since I’m sure I’m not alone in this I can’t help but wonder what effect this is going to have on the whole industry. We had that story about Microsoft thinking about doing an ad-based subscription for Game Pass, because it’s not selling as well as they thought. And that’s for what’s generally regarded as the best bargain around! I know the PlayStation 5 and its top games are doing well but it makes me wonder about everything else.

If Sony are planning to do a bunch of free-to-play games, starting with The Last Of Us multiplayer, I think that makes a lot of sense. They can’t have anticipated the current problems but if they pivot that to assure people that they only need to shell out for the console, I think that could do very well. It’s still not enough for me though. I’ll need to wait a bit longer until I know I’m not going to put my family at risk by buying a video game console.

Too many subs
It still amazes me that Game Pass isn’t bigger than it is. To me it’s an amazing service that is such good value for money that Microsoft is almost literally giving it away. Is it just because Microsoft hasn’t had any first party games lately?

I guess that’s part of it but I still can’t see Fable 4 and a Skyrim clone changing things that much. Maybe Starfield, if that takes off, but as good as it looks it doesn’t seem like a system sold to me.

I’ve always thought of Games Pass as the system seller though, not any specific game, and I’m surprised more people don’t see the value. It does explain why Microsoft are so keen to get this Call Of Duty deal done, but what happens if that doesn’t help Game Pass much either? Do people just not want to subscribe to games?

The cost of Wars
I don’t know what this Ubisoft Star Wars game is but I hope it’s something ambitious and big. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order was good but it still felt quite small and I don’t think the story really introduced anything particularly new or interesting.

If the Ubisoft game really is an open world bounty hunter game that’d be fantastic. Hopefully not exactly Mandalorian but with a choice of different customizable characters, where Mandalorians are just one of the choice.

Each class type could have their own long term goals, like getting full Beksar armor for Mandalorians or breaking your programming for assassin droids. There’s so much that could be done but the problem with Star Wars is that Lucasfilm is so protective over everything that it slows down how these games are made. Or at least that’s the impression I get from what EA has said.

Is a massive scale Star Wars game just too expansive and time-consuming to make? I hope not, because I will be very interested to see what this new game is.

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Portable gaming
It always amazes me when I see complex console like games on a mobile, like this leaked Assassin’s Creed game. It seems such a weird thing to want to do. I play games on my mobile plenty, but things like Marvel Snap are made for it but a console type game, with complex controls and cameras and everything… I don’t get it.

It’s certainly not something I want to play on the train home and I certainly can’t imagine whipping out a controller to play it when I get home, when I could just play a proper game instead. I guess it’s because they’re free?

I mean, that is an appeal, obviously but even then I’d much rather play a puzzle game or indie game or something that’s suited to the weird shape of the touchscreen. I’d say I’m obviously in the wrong but are any of these complex mobile games ever that popular? Fortnite got taken off for ages and Epic didn’t even seem to care, saying it was only a small part of their profits.

Personal recommendation
Just wanted to write in to say how much I’m enjoying the game Rollerdrome. It’s an absolute corker of a game, and in a strange way reminds me of another of my favorite games this year: Sifu. The gameplay is completely different, but both games make you feel like an absolute ninja boss when you get good at them.

I know GC didn’t particularly like either game, but they’re definitely two of my favorites of the year and I implore anyone that likes the look of them to give them a go. Not for the faint hearted, but bloody rewarding.

GC: We didn’t hate them, and the graphics in Rollerdrome are great.

Outside interests
FIFA does seem spookily good at predicting World Cup winners but somehow I bet EA will have the license back by the time the next one comes around. I can’t imagine anyone at FIFA knows anything about producing a video game, so I have zero faith in whoever they rope in to make their new game. I also doubt they’ll get it out in time for next year, so there probably won’t be a FIFA 24 at all.

Four years of failure trying to go it alone will have them crawling back to EA, is my prediction. Maybe not for the full FIFA name – if EA can make a hit without it they won’t want to go back – but I better FIFA will be happy to license the World Cup to them, for the right place.

It’s always amazing how little respect non-gaming companies have for the difficulty of making games and I think that’s the main reason for how film games never turn out any good, or indeed game films. Like that Lucasfilm deal to remake Star Wars: Knights Of The Old Republic. I don’t think anyone involved had any idea how much work that would involve and were shocked when someone told them.

I think FIFA are going to be similarly surprised when their dreams of making their own FIFA 24 hit reality.

Your yearly reboot
I see the DCEU is getting another of its regular shake-ups. I wonder if this one will affect games at all? James Gunn knows about them. Heck, he wrote the script for Lollipop Chainsaw, so I can’t imagine he’s impressed by how few games have made it out in the last five years or so.

Then again, he could end up canceling that Wonder Woman game that was announced, rather than making anything new. I’m already worried we haven’t heard anything more about that since the reveal, which doesn’t seem like good news.

Variable frame rate
James Cameron has been playing around with the performance settings in an actual movie for all to see. I went to see Avatar: The Way Of Water at the weekend. No spoilers here but the HFR effect largely makes it look like a very expensive video game cinematic.

What I found jarring, and immediately obvious from experimenting with performance mode settings, was that occasionally the frame rate dropped from 48fps to look like a regular movie. This is especially obvious in scenes with humans interspersed in short cuts with action scenes. Most people may not notice but I did and was surprised how much it took me out of things.

I looked it up and some of the scenes are indeed 24fps repeated twice. Very odd.

I also agree with the Reader’s Feature at the weekend. I hate the choice of performance settings in consoles. No such choice in Avatar, it is instead inflicted on the viewer.

GC: Very interesting. We’d heard about this, but we just don’t think we can take 3+ hours of more Avatar.

Inbox also-rans
Apparently High On Life is number one on Game Pass now. I know it’s free but there really is no accounting for taste.

There’s going to be an Avatar game that’s not going to come out until at least a year after the new movie? Yeah, that’s going to flop like a kipper. Not sure what Ubisoft were thinking with that one.

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The small print
New Inbox updates appear every weekday morning, with special Hot Topic Inboxes at the weekend. Readers’ letters are used on merit and may be edited for length and content.

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