Sony dominated the week that was in video games, but changes are afoot at the PlayStation company. While the new PlayStation 4 keeps the numerical legacy of the its gaming tech, the new console represents a major change in the national identity of Sony. The original PlayStation, its monumentally successful successor PlayStation 2, and the slow starter PlayStation 3 were all designed by Sony’s Japanese engineers in the company’s homeland, led by the outspoken Ken Kutaragi. The PlayStation 4, on the other hand, is the product of Marble Madness creator Mark Cerny, a foundational figure in American video games. Sony has always been an international company but one with a ferocious Japanese corporate identity. The times, they are a changing.
American design may fuel the future of Sony’s machine, but Jetsetter still has its eye trained on the world of video games beyond US borders. Jetsetter is Digital Trends’ weekly column looking at the video games of the world. From Belgian designers to the booming free-to-play PC game industry of the former Soviet Bloc, Jetsetter is your guide.
This week, we discuss Sony’s hardware plans back home then look at a peculiar rumor regarding the future a famous Franco game designer. Finally, we check in on Poland’s most famous game, its next sequel, and its future on consoles.
* Rayman creator Michel Ancel resigning from Ubisoft after Rayman Legends fiasco?
French gaming giant Ubisoft infuriated both Nintendo Wii U fans and the staff at studio Ubisoft Montpelier when it decided to delay the finished Rayman Legends to fall 2013 so as to make the Wii U exclusive a multiplatform title. The business decision may result in more than hurt feelings and frustration, though. Rayman creator Michel Ancel, who was just 17-years-old when he joined Ubisoft in 1990, may leave the company in the wake of Rayman Legends’ delay. Sources speaking to French website Gamekult (translated by NeoGAF) have said that Ancel and his team from Montpelier plan to break away from Ubisoft. The split may end amicably, though, with Ancel remaining “tied to Rayman” and collaborating with Ubisoft on his next project. That next project is suspected to be the long-awaited sequel to Ancel’s cult classic Beyond Good & Evil. Beyond Good & Evil 2 was first announced by Ubisoft in 2008, but Ancel said as long back as 2009 that the game would have to wait for the next generation of consoles after the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Ancel is one of the celebrated designers in France, receiving a knighthood alongside Shigeru Miyamoto from the French Minister of Culture and Communication in 2006 for this work in the field.
* Sony finally gives gamers a PS Vita price drop, but only in Japan.
Even if the PlayStation 4 was designed by an American mind, Sony still seems to show some favoritism to its homeland. Shortly before announcing the PlayStation 4, Sony announced it would drop the PS Vita price 33 percent to around $214 in Japan. It will also discount the notoriously expensive proprietary memory cards for the handheld. Sony Worldwide Studios boss Shuhei Yoshida said that the price cut is for Japan only, though. This is because of currency fluctuations.
“One answer could be when you compare the pricing on PS Vita across regions, because of the yen value,” said Yoshida, “In Japan, the system had been priced the highest. We had been selling for 25,000 yen; that’s more than $250 when compare the exchange rates.” If Sony wants to see PS Vita sales pick up outside Japan, though, it better consider making the drop an international standard.
* CD Projekt Red’s The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt hits PlayStation 4.
Last time on Jetsetter, Poland’s CD Projekt Red had just announced its plans for The Witcher 3, a massive open world sequel to its popular role-playing game series based on Andrezej Sapkowski’s series of fantasy novels. The Witcher is a big deal in Poland, a core part of the country’s popular culture in the 21st century. The PlayStation 4 has at least a chance to gain a strong following in Poland then as CD Projekt Red confirmed this week that its RPG will hit the console in 2014. “We were thrilled when asked, several months ago, to be one of the developers who were granted early access to the PlayStation 4,” said CD Projekt Red CEO Adam Badowski, “It was an exciting moment to be invited to be in the company of other legendary developers like Bethesda, EA, LucasArts, Ubisoft, or Activision as one of the teams working on titles shipping early in the PlayStation 4’s lifecycle… After yesterday’s PlayStation Meeting we can finally promise: The Witcher 3 is coming to the PlayStation 4.” Badowski made no mention, however, of CD Projekt Red’s other upcoming RPG, Cyberpunk 2077. Will Sony’s machine miss out on the studio’s take on scifi?