Any au­di­ence is good, but the cap­tive one is the dream


Look­ing back, we should have been pay­ing closer at­ten­tion. When Sony an­nounced PlaySta­tion 4, it ex­plained that it was build­ing its con­sole by tak­ing cues from PC ar­chi­tec­ture. And what do you do with a PC af­ter a cou­ple of years? You up­grade it. The plan for PS4 Pro was right there at the be­gin­ning. In this is­sue we visit New York to see Sony’s new hard­ware in ac­tion (p8) – and re­turn eye­ing the big­gest 4K TVs our wal­lets can bear.

Mi­crosoft’s Xbox One S has been avail­able since Au­gust, and it, too, should’ve been vis­i­ble from a mile or so out. Sony and Mi­crosoft are watching con­sumers mi­grate to 4K dis­plays, and nei­ther com­pany wants you to turn away from your con­sole in or­der to have Ultra HD con­tent piped into the home via other means. The mo­ment you switch away from the Net­flix app on your Xbox to watch Nar­cos through an­other de­vice, you’re pulled out of Mi­crosoft’s ecosys­tem, pre­vent­ing it from blitz­ing you at ev­ery con­ceiv­able turn with de­tails of the new games, movies and TV shows it is gag­ging to flog to you in­stantly via its highly lu­cra­tive store.

Ecosys­tems are the modern videogame com­pany’s ob­ses­sion. They gave us DLC, which has trans­formed our en­tire re­la­tion­ship with the things we play. Not very long ago, we bought a game, fin­ished it, then hap­pily let it go, to the trade-in counter or the ap­pre­cia­tive friend. Here in 2016, we find our­selves re­view­ing an ex­pan­sion for World Of War­craft, a game re­leased when Shaun Of The Dead was in cin­e­mas, Dead­wood ar­rived on TV screens, and Bey­oncé was just one third of Des­tiny’s Child.

Is there a bet­ter ex­am­ple of the ecosys­tem at work than GTA On­line? Be­tween 2008 and 2013, Rock­star pub­lished at least one notable ti­tle per year. It has re­leased noth­ing since – ex­cept, that is, quite a lot of ve­hi­cles, weapons and other things avail­able to buy with real cash in Los San­tos.

When it comes to VR, we’ll soon see the ef­fects of an­other ecosys­tem at play. On p62 we talk to the team be­hind PSVR, a de­vice that de­mands the at­ten­tion of ev­ery one of the 40m+ PS4 own­ers out there to­day.

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