PS4's first year has been great, but what's next?

Sony, Futurlab and Yogscast have their say on PlayStation 4's first 12 months and its future.
A picture of PlayStation 4's launch promotion on the OXO tower
PlayStation 4's launch promotion on the OXO tower © Sony
By Ian Dransfield

Happy first anniversary PS4! Yes, the PlayStation 4 launched a year ago today in the US, ahead of Xbox One - which is where it has stayed since.

Overall, this has been a very good year for Sony, with the PS4 outselling both the Xbox One and Wii U all over the world. The console wars rage on, but the first round of this generation goes to the old champ.

Of course, there have been a few bumps in the road - especially recently with the woes of firmware 2.0 and the minor disaster that is Driveclub, while the likes of Watch Dogs and Destiny weren't the life-changing events we might have expected.

But what do four important voices from the world of gaming think about the PS4's first year? And what does it need to do in the future to remain on top? We asked Sony's Fergal Gara, Yogscast's Kim Richards, James Marsden from Futurlabs and fan Ciaran Watkins to find out.

The PS4 chief - Fergal Gara, PlayStation UK's MD

A picture of Fergal Gara
Fergal Gara © Official PlayStation Magazine

On PS4's first year...
It has been amazing. To see a console be accepted and adopted far faster than any other console we've brought out is fantastic. The fact that it's such a global success, but also - of course - the success here in the UK makes us particularly pleased. We're up and running with a very strong start and gamers seem to be very pleased with the device.

Have Sony learned any lessons for the future?
First of all, on the positive, we've learned how important it is to get your positioning right in the first place. Adopting a very gamer-focused perspective from the outset served us extremely well. I think what we also learned is that it's really important to keep innovating to keep interest in the sector. We have innovation coming through this year and plenty more on the agenda for years to come.

This year sees the introduction of Share Play, the introduction of PlayStation TV and as we look forward there's plenty more to come - PlayStation Now and Project Morpheus looming in the background as a potential new project to take to market. It's a great start but we can't rest easy, we must keep exciting and delighting gamers - and of course broadening the audience as we go.

A picture of Project Morpheus
Project Morpheus © Sony

What next for PS4...
I'd like it to continue with the innovation stream I just talked about, but also what we want to see in the next year or two is a bigger mass market play, shall we say. So in order to broaden and perhaps fill the void that's being left latent by, say, the Wii - which is a shadow of its former self. We need to have the kind of product that will engage that more casual consumer. I think that's a big opportunity for us, and that's not yet clear on the horizon, but something we should and I'm sure will be focused on as we look forward into year two, three and four.

The developer - James Marsden from Velocity developers Futurlab

A picture of James Marsden from Futurlab
James Marsden from Futurlab © PlayStation Blog

How has PS4's first year been for Futurlab?
Very exciting! It's just great to see the runaway success of the platform after the seemingly endless headlines about mobile killing console. Quick, there's a break in the clouds of gloom, take a deep breath while you can! Oh, and we've had well over a million downloads of Velocity 2X, which is appreciated!

The lessons Futurlabs have learned for the future
We've found it incredibly easy to develop for, and we've learned that the rubber pads on the Dual Shock 4 can only just take the punishment brought upon it by our wicked game design! PS5 and Dual Shock 5 needs some industrial strength rubber because we're only going to up our game over time.

A screenshot of Velocity 2X
Velocity 2X © Futurlab

Where does PS4 go from here?
What is there left to ask for? Backflips would be pretty cool. Backflips. OK, seriously, the OS UI could be snappier and the PlayStation Store UI also. On the PlayStation Store, more visibility for smaller games would be nice. Velocity 2X is arguably one of the finest games currently on the platform so being able to see it up front would be awesome, but hey, there's a pecking order and we understand that. We'll deal with that by rising up it. Other than that, just more games coming through but that will happen over time.

The Youtuber - Kim Richards, Yogscast

A picture of Kim Richards from Yogscast
Kim Richards from Yogscast ©

On PS4's first year...
In all honesty, I think the first year for both PS4 and Xbox One has gone quite slowly - more so for Xbox One than PS4. Sony have done quite well cornering the on-console indie market, and it has been brilliant seeing titles such as Never Alone, Don't Starve, Hohokum and OctoDad get quite prolific releases, as well as many other indie titles.

I'll be honest, I haven't turned on my Xbox One this year, mainly because everything I've wanted to play (Destiny, Alien Isolation, Thief), has been released on both platforms, and I prefer the PS4's user interface and controller.

In terms of exclusives, both platforms haven't really wowed me yet. That said, I'm excited for the exclusives that are incoming next year - Uncharted 4, Halo 5, etc. The games that I have played this year have impressed me in terms of graphics, but I feel like I'm still waiting for the full potential of both consoles to unfold.

However, I'd like to mention two titles and one technical feature that has really impressed me this year - and that's Final Fantasy XIV, Destiny, and the arrival of MMOs on consoles. My experience with FFXIV on PS4 has been pretty flawless in terms of server ping and handling framerates when you're processing an incredible amount of online players. The ability to play with PC gamers has really impressed me.

Similarly, while Destiny still has a few basic gameplay issues to work out, it's fantastic to see a studio being so ambitious with the shooter genre, and I think Destiny will grow into something quite special.

A screenshot of Destiny
Destiny © Activision

The best PS4 game so far
My favourite PS4 game by far isn't technically a game - it's the PT demo that surfaced at Gamescom. I'm a huge fan of horror in all media forms, and I'm also a big fan (and critic) of the Silent Hill series. Playing what was revealed as the demo for Silent Hills has me unbelievably excited for many reasons. First off, the all-star team of Hideo Kojima, Guillermo Del Toro and Norman Reedus, with consultation with Junji Ito... I have a great respect for all of these talents, and it's astonishing to see them come together. Also, Kojima is an outspoken horror fan, and it's fantastic to see him talking about things he likes and doesn't like about the horror genre.

The demo itself looks GORGEOUS... the first shot of those two high-def cockroaches copulating inches from your face sticks with me to this moment. Although, I'll be honest, I'm not entirely sure how long my heart will survive such a realistic looking horror game. The gameplay itself was intriguing - even though the demo was set in a single, repeating corridor, it did a perfect job of showcasing the weirdness of Kojima, and it both ramped up the tense, creeping atmosphere and hit you with powerful jump scares.

Outside of PT, Alien: Isolation has been my PS4 game of the year, for similar reasons. It's gorgeous (that shiny HD fire!), it's done a fantastic and faithful job of recreating the Alien Universe, and the Alien itself has the most frustratingly, terrifyingly intelligent AI that I've ever met in a game. Again, the devs have done an amazing job of building an atmosphere of unsettling tension, mixed with heart-attack inducing jump scares. And, as a huge Alien fan, I had the biggest grin on my face when you revisted LV-426...

What's next for PS4?
As I mentioned previously, I can't wait to see the exclusives hit next year, as they're already looking beautiful. I think gaming will be very exciting once development teams get to grips with just how much they can squeeze out of next-gen consoles. The PS4 and Xbox One are already planning and delivering things I'd like to see - stable, easy online gaming (Both in terms of ambitious MMOs like Destiny and FFXIV, and the co-op madness that Assassin's Creed Unity and Far Cry 4 has achieved).

The fan - Ciaran Watkins

A picture of PlayStation 4 fan Ciaran Watkins
PlayStation 4 fan Ciaran Watkins © Ciaran Watkins

On PS4's first year...
For Sony and the PS4, the year has gone brilliantly. Off the back of a miraculously played E3 in 2013, the PS4 has become the fastest selling home console ever, and it has attracted a whole host of new PlayStation owners across the world.

For the consumer it's a little different. In the first few months we were lacking a true system seller; a great exclusive. Killzone, Infamous and Driveclub haven't really hit the mark, but the library of good games is slowly building. It's just a pity that Sony themselves are facing such financial problems in other areas. I'm hoping this won't change the future of the PS4, which at the moment, is looking quite bright indeed.

The best PS4 game so far
Upon launch, the best game by a country mile was Resogun. Quick, twitchy and addictive, all rolled in to a neat little package. Infamous: Second Son then followed, and despite it being a 7/10 game, I enjoyed it thoroughly to the point of completing it twice, and platinuming my first ever game. Funny thing is, I never turned it on after that.

These two choices are worth a look, but the game of the system so far is one that didn't even come out first on PS4. The Last Of Us. Having played the PS3 version, I double dipped just to experience the same game in a higher resolution, and to see it looking marvellous on my newer 50" TV. And boy was it worth it. It's a game with a great narrative, beautiful visuals, and characters that you can actually care for. It plays well, is ruthlessly difficult and even the multiplayer is worth a punt. If I were to recommend any game to a new PS4 owner this would be top of the list.

It's just a shame that the best game on this system also happens to be the best game on the last system. Roll on Bloodborne. I'd also like to give a shout out to Destiny which has sapped over 100 hours of my time. I don't really know how, as the story is god awful, but the game mechanics managed to hook me in.

A screenshot of The Last Of Us: Remastered
The Last of Us: Remastered © Sony Computer Entertainment

What should PS4 do next?
One of the best things about the PS3 was its media server capabilities. This should have come as standard on the PS4, but upon launch it was nowhere to be seen. We were promised it would be patched in but it's been over a year now Sony, and we're still waiting. Why can't I plug in a USB stick and fire up some episodes of Sealab 2021? Why can't I instead stream those episodes from my PC straight to the consoles? It's a sham I tell you! A sham.

We could probably do with some new games as well. Exclusives and what not. But I've got a backlog of PS+ games to run through and a daily heroic mission on Destiny to finish.

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