‘Destruction AllStars’ Is A Cautionary Tale For PS5 And Sony
Destruction AllStars has had a strange journey on PlayStation, and does not seem to be in the best of spots at the moment.
The game was originally planned as a full $70 release, as is the policy with new Sony PS5 first party games these days, but was then delayed three months, then put on PS Plus for two months, and now costs $20 in the store.
But unlike Sony’s higher profile, mostly single player hits, this foray into attempting to make something live and akin to a Rocket League hasn’t really gone that well. The game debuted to middling-to-poor reviews, and a 62 Metascore puts it as the 32nd highest rated PS5 release this year alone.
Now? The game’s population is starting to struggle, and developer Lucid has announced (to its reddit community of 2,200 players) that they’re going to start to need to put in bots during non-peak times to flesh out games more so there are enough combatants and matchmaking doesn’t take forever. This is also being hampered to some degree by the fact that there just aren’t a ton of PS5’s out there due to supply shortages.
I view this entire Destruction AllStars saga as a cautionary tale for Sony in two ways:
First, I think it show them that this new $70 first party philosophy is clearly not a one size fits-all idea. The fact that they were ever going to price Destruction AllStars at $70 is ludicrous. Not because of the quality, but because of the type of game it is in the first place. They did avoid that trap with a smarter PS Plus feature and eventual lower price, but they almost didn’t. And other games have not avoided that like Godfall, again goofily priced at $70 new. Even a game like Returnal seems badly priced at $70, though the saving grace of that game was that it was good enough to purchase for many despite the higher price. But the point is, while few may balk at say, Horizon Forbidden West being $70, Sony needs to be more flexible with this idea that anything it makes should potentially be priced there. Things could have gone even worse for AllStars if they hadn’t make that shift at the last minute.
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The second warning here is that Sony, which rarely misses in the first party, narrative-driven genre, may have a harder time with live service games, which it says it wants to move into now going forward. “Live service” covers many genres, but in short, ongoing games that are not campaigns you beat once and move on from. That can be looter shooters or it can be competitive multiplayer games. It’s a wide range.
But Sony has not shown they’ve got a good handle on this genre like they have with their narrative-based games. Destruction AllStars is one such example, clearly, but I also seem to remember how badly Sony botched another stars-based game, PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, which should have theoretically been its own Smash Bros, but was just…not very good. When you think of all Sony’s classic hits, pretty much none of them are in this genre at all.
My guess is one of the biggest upcoming experiments for this idea will be Naughty Dog releasing The Last of Us: Factions, a multiplayer spin-off of that series, building on the MP from the first game. But generally speaking, this seems like an area Sony is going to need to really focus on to improve. Not that Microsoft is the master of live service titles either, but they do have a leg up in multiplayer generally (Halo, Gears). Sony has never really had an answer for that.
We’ll see what the future holds. Hopefully Sony can learn some lessons from AllStars’ struggles here and apply them to the future.