What do Gravity Rush 2, Kill Strain, and The Tomorrow Children all have in common? You know, aside from the fact that all three games appear on the PlayStation 4. I’ll give you a hint. Each one has been severely crippled by Sony. Got it now? That’s right, in each of these instances, Sony decided to pull server support from the games under a year after launch. So these games, each of them hyped up, loses the online element. In some cases, it even renders the game unplayable.
How does this reflect on Sony? I say, not well. After all, taking this action completely kills the game in the case of Kill Strain and The Tomorrow Children, and in Gravity Rush 2 removes a rather helpful feature. Gravity Rush 2 only just came out in January 2017, and its online element allowed you to share treasure clues, get challenges, take photos, and most importantly earn Dusty tokens and other rewards. That means losing access to costumes and talismans come January 19, 2018. Kill Strain was a 5v2v5 shooter that came out in July 2016. When its service ended on July 1, 2017, the game ended. The Tomorrow Children challenged people to work together to build defenses when it launched in September 2016, but that will end come November 1, 2017.
Each of these faced a premature end. Which gives Sony a terrible reputation. Can you really trust yourself to get invested in one of its smaller games when it has shown it will cut them down after a year? While Kill Strain had poor reviews and The Tomorrow Children wasn’t insanely popular, does that mean they barely get a year to try and turn things around and deliver better things for its audience? And what of Gravity Rush 2, a major PlayStation 4 exclusive? This game was a big deal earlier this year. But there’s no loyalty shown to it.
What Sony is doing is fostering distrust. If it is willing to cut down smaller games like Kill Strain and The Tomorrow Children, what assurance do we have that other downloadable exclusives will thrive? Will Drawn to Death’s death knell arrive tomorrow? And what of Gravity Rush 2, an anticipated retail release? If Detroit: Become Human ends up having some minor online interaction, will it see its servers cut after a year too?
Yes, sometimes you can see right away if a game will sink or swim. It is pretty obvious when titles are or aren’t doing well. But, that doesn’t mean the rug should immediately be pulled out from the developers and players. In this console generation, when online interactions are so critical, people should know they will get at least a year, maybe two, with the games they invest time into. It isn’t right to circle back a year later, maybe even less than a year later, and completely pull the plug.
These kinds of actions are worrying. It seems to suggest that the only games that could be guaranteed a long and healthy life are the AAA, major releases Sony intends to milk for money for years after their release. It isn’t great when we’ve come to a point where only games like The Last of Us: Part II and Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End inspire any sort of confidence in its online experience. Systems’ exclusive games should have online experiences that stay online and are given an opportunity to thrive. Or, at the very least, shouldn’t receive notice of server closures six to seven months after their launch.