Gamebox: Why can’t I get a PS5 for Christmas?

Not a cheap gift (pic: Sony)

The Tuesday Letters page is surprised that Game Pass isn’t more popular than it is, with one reader recommending Rollerdrome and Sifu.

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Third time unlucky
Christmas is coming up and for the third year in a row I don’t get a PlayStation 5. This time though it’s not because I can’t find one in stock but because I can’t afford one. Or rather, I shouldn’t put up with it. Like everyone else, I really count my money now and this recent bout of cold, with three kids, I just can’t justify such an expensive new unit to myself. The cost of the games is also not specified.

Since I’m sure I’m not alone in this, I can’t help but wonder what effect this will have on the entire industry. We had that story about Microsoft considering doing an ad-based subscription for Game Pass, because it’s not selling as well as they thought. This is what is generally considered to be the best deal around! I know the PlayStation 5 and its better games work fine but it makes me question everything else.

If Sony plans to do a bunch of free games, starting with The Last Of Us multiplayer, I think that makes a lot of sense. They couldn’t have anticipated the current issues, but if they centered that on reassuring people that they just need to be on the lookout for the console, I think that could work very well. Still not enough for me though. I’ll need to wait a little longer until I know I’m not putting my family at risk by buying a video game console.

Too many subscriptions
It still amazes me that Game Pass isn’t any bigger than it is. To me, it’s a great service with such good value for money that Microsoft is almost literally giving it away. Is it just because Microsoft hasn’t had any team games lately?

I guess that’s part of it but I still can’t see Fable 4 and the Skyrim clone changing things much. Maybe Starfield, if that gets going, but well it doesn’t sound like a system vendor to me.

I’ve always thought of Games Pass as the seller of the system, but not any specific game, and I’m surprised more people don’t see the value. It explains why Microsoft is so keen on making this Call Of Duty deal happen, but what happens if that doesn’t help Game Pass much either? Do people just not want to engage in games?

The cost of wars
I don’t know what Ubisoft Star Wars is but I hope it’s a big, ambitious game. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order was good but it still seemed a bit young and I don’t think the story offered anything new or interesting.

If Ubisoft was truly an open world bounty hunter, that would be great. Hopefully not quite the Mandalorian but with a choice of different customizable characters, the Mandalorians are just one of the selection.

Each class type can have its own long-term goals, like getting full Beksar armor for the Mandalorian or breaking your programming for a robotic assassin. There’s a lot that can be done but the problem with Star Wars is that Lucasfilm is so protective of everything that it slows down how they make these games. Or at least that’s the impression I’m getting from what EA said.

Is a massively sized Star Wars game too vast and too time consuming? I hope not, because I’d be very interested to see what this new game is all about.
to focus

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mobile games
It always amazes me when I see a console as complex as games on mobile, like the leaked Assassin’s Creed game. Seems like a weird thing to want to do. I play a lot of games on my mobile but things like Marvel Snap made for it but it’s a console type game, with complicated controls and cameras and everything… I just don’t get it.

It’s definitely not something I’d want to play on the train at home, and I certainly can’t imagine using a controller to play it when I get home, when I could play a proper game instead. Think that they are free?

I mean, that’s an appeal, obviously because until then, I’d rather play a puzzle game or an indie game or whatever fits the odd touchscreen feel. I’d say I’m clearly wrong but are any of these complex mobile games ever popular? Fortnite has been taking off for ages and Epic wasn’t interested in it, saying it was just a small part of their profits.

Personal recommendation
Just wanted to write to say how much I enjoy Rollerdrome. It’s an absolute game, and in an odd way reminds me of another of my favorite games this year: Sifu. The gameplay is very different, but both games make you feel like an ultimate ninja boss when you’re good at it.

I know GC didn’t particularly like either game, but they are definitely two of my best games of the year and I would appeal to anyone who likes the look of them to give them a try. Not for the faint hearted, but for the bloody payoff.

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

external interests
FIFA seems eerily good at predicting World Cup winners, but somehow I’m betting EA will get the license back by the time the next license comes around. I can’t imagine anyone at FIFA knowing anything about producing a video game, so I never really believe who they’re dealing with to make their new game. I also doubt they’ll be out in time for next year, so there will likely be no FIFA 24 at all.

Four years of failing to try and do it on their own will have them crawling back to EA, that’s my prediction. Maybe not for the full FIFA name – if EA can find success without them they won’t want to go back – but FIFA better be happy to license the World Cup to them, in the right place.

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

I think FIFA will be similarly surprised when their dreams of making FIFA 24 become a reality.

Your annual restart
I see the DCEU getting other regular changes. I wonder if this will affect the games at all? James Gunn knows about them. Heck, he wrote the script for Lollipop Chainsaw, so I can’t imagine him liking how few games have made it in the last five years or so.

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

Variable frame rate
James Cameron would tinker with performance settings in an actual movie for all to see. I went to see Avatar: The Way Of Water over the weekend. No spoilers here but the influence of HFR makes it look very much like an expensive cinematic video game.

What I found annoying, and immediately apparent from experimenting with Performance mode settings, was that at times the frame rate dropped from 48fps to look like a normal movie. This is especially evident in scenes interspersed with cutscenes with action scenes. Most people might not notice, but I did and was surprised at how much it got me out of things.

I looked it up and some scenes actually loop at 24fps twice. Very strange.

I also agree with the weekend reader feature. I hate choosing performance settings in consoles. There is no such choice in the avatar, it is rather appended to the viewer.

GC: so interesting. We’ve heard about this, but we don’t think we can take more than 3 hours of avatars.

incoming mail also rans
High On Life seems to be number one on Game Pass right now. I know it’s free but there really is no expense in taste.

Will there be an Avatar game that won’t come out until at least a year after the new movie? Yes, this will flop like a grave. I’m not sure what Ubisoft was thinking about this.

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