Earlier this month, Sony drew the attention of many confused gamers when they announced that they were dropping Pro Evolution Soccer 2019. In its place they are replacing it with Detroit: Become Human Deluxe Edition.
For its part, Konami representatives told GameSpot that, “This decision was made by Sony and so please make an inquiry to Sony.”
Sony did not go into detail as to why the decision was made.
“We have decided to make a change to the PS Plus games lineup this month, and will be offering Detroit: Become Human Digital Deluxe Edition instead of PES 2019. This was a decision we decided to make as a company, and we apologize for any inconvenience.”
Occurrences like these do not happen very often in Sony Interactive Entertainment’s history. Rarely do they commit to any last minute changes. Even so, it’s very strange that Konami was kept in the dark during the entire process.
European PES brand manager Lennart Bobzien, later told GameSpot that on the day of the change, it had taken Konami by surprise:
“I cannot really tell you what happened because I just found out today, in the morning when I opened my laptop. I can’t really explain.”
Though we cannot determine the exact reason why this all happened since Sony insists that the decision was made by the company and that’s the end of that. We are left to speculate as what it can possibly be.
According to Eurogamer, Sony signed a marketing deal with EA Sports FIFA 20, as evident at the end of FIFA 20 trailers where the PS logo makes an appearance. Maybe there was some legal hitch there that we are not aware of. Or maybe it’s just Sony way of saying that it doesn’t want to be overly friendly with FIFA 20’s contemporaries. We can’t really say for certain.
The removal of PES 2019 from the PS plus line up also coincides with Konami’s contract termination with Liverpool just 2 days before. The day after, Konami announced that it had signed a deal with Manchester United for the club to appear in PES 2020 and future installments. This also includes 3D body scans of legends such as David Beckham. So, SIE might have reason to steer clear until the dust settles. Again, just speculation here.
Moving away from the corporations, it also seems like the move itself has certainly raised a lot of eyebrows from the gaming community. Although generally seen as a positive, the addition of Detroit: Become Human did draw heat from gamers who just bought the game on sale the previous month. Several of these gamers who bought the game posted their displeasure with the move. Still, others did not mind the move simply because the games offering for the month of July was already seen as a sort of disappointment.
Upon looking further into the whole PSN angle, it’s not hard to find out why the move made sense from a practical business standpoint. At its core, PSN as a business model was supposed to provide value for your money. A year-long subscription only cost, more or less, $60. (Regional price differences apply.) With it, subscribers have the ability to save their games on the cloud, access to multiplayer, free themes, discounts, and month free games.
Over the course of time, however, changes in company policy diminished the value of the subscription. Earlier this year, Sony stopped adding PS3 and Vita games to the subscription service. This did not go well over players as the limited pool of games to choose from has been restricted to just 2 to 3 games. The games on offer are not bad, mind you. Many of them are in the high 70’s and 80’s in terms of review scores. But the important takeaway here is that their choices are far more limited compared to what it was in January.
Before the announcement of the move, the games on offer were Horizon Chase Turbo (a nice racing) and PES 2019. Outside of their dedicated fan bases, I’m sure that sports games have limited appeal. It’s most likely that Sony was just looking out for its brand, which makes sense. They didn’t want to lose any more PSN subscribers and are probably still looking for more permanent solutions.
In the case of the game that added to the line up last minute, Detroit: Become Human Digital Deluxe Edition. (Do note that the Deluxe Edition includes Heavy Rain as well, so that’s 3 games on offer this July.) The game sold very well last year, though not as much as other PlayStation exclusives, but a sale of millions for a niche game warrants praise nonetheless. It’s since become the best selling game in Quantic Dream’s history.
What does Quantic Dream have to do this? Did they have some sort of disagreement with Sony since their break up? Earlier this year they announced that they are no longer going to make Playstation exclusive games. Instead, they will focus on expanding their brand as they plan on releasing games for all major platforms. To do this, they have partnered with Chinese company NetEase, to create games for the Asian mobile market.
In China, Sony has actually put some effort into revitalizing the console gaming market in the region. Locals appreciate Sony’s efforts, lamenting that local studio does nothing to contribute to the local console scene. Strange, considering that Tencent and NetEase are some of the biggest players in the market. But let’s consider that only in recent history that the Chinese government lifted the ban on consoles in China. But many restrictions are in place, impeding the growth of that particular market. It’s easy to see why neither company would want to invest in console gaming at the moment.
So, what about Quantic Dream’s games ending up in the Epic Games Store? Did that move push Sony to take action such as putting their best game in the PS plus line up? Hmmm… I don’t think so. Although it seems that it all lines up perfectly, with Heavy Rain getting its full PC release not too long ago, and Beyond Two Souls following soon after. One need only see that the games are copyright under Sony. Quantic Dreams are credited to making these games, but the publishing to Epic Games falls entire to Sony. (It is also worth noting that things are not going smoothly for people wanting to play the demos on Epic’s platform.)
One can argue that the timing of the offering of Detroit: Become Human is too much of a coincidence. But looking at the way the split happened, and I don’t see much bad blood there.
In a 2018 interview, David Cage said that Sony game developers freedom and doesn’t impose anything. He also commended them for doing a “remarkable job” showing that single-player games are still doing well. Recent comments on Twitter seem to suggest that Cage is more happy about expanding, and nothing about Sony holding them back.
For it’s part, Quantic Dream as a company thanked Sony for its help in believing in them for the last 12 years. They still plan to continue making games for the PlayStation brand in the future, along with the other major platforms.
To end this discussion here, I’d just like to say that whatever prompted Sony into making the last minute change, I just hope that they can better communicate this to their publishers in the future. With the next generation just over the horizon, I’m there will be more bumps to flatten out. In the meantime, we as consumers have to keep a sharp eye for any and all developments that occur.