Sony has announced that each PlayStation 4 will include a free game (though “game” is a very generous way to describe The PlayRoom.)

Back in the olden days (read: the late 1980s), it was expected that if a company were to release a new videogame console, that it would include a free game. People were already shelling out $300-plus for a gaming machine, so console manufacturers were in the habit of doing the general public a solid by not necessarily forcing them to drop cash above and beyond that price point on games. This trend changed over time and it’s now seen as utterly abnormal for a console manufacturer to include a gratis game with their machine.

Despite this, Sony is including a “game” with each PlayStation 4. That video you see embedded at top-right is the official promotional footage for The PlayRoom, a piece of software – let’s just call it a “tech demo” – that utilizes the console’s camera and augmented reality capabilities to … offer momentary distractions? Demonstrate what other developers might one day do with the system? Provide a simple enough gimmick that will be glanced at once, then never mentioned again?

Watching that clip, I get what Sony is going for. “This is the future of entertainment,” it seems to shout from every inch of that meticulously appointed faux apartment. It’s a nice idea, but Sony’s modus operandi has always been that of a company that introduces new ideas, and then sits frustrated as they fizzle out due to lack of interest. You want examples? Betamax, MiniDisc, the PlayStation Eye – even the PSP and Vita could arguably fall into this category.

We want the future of gaming to be filled with all kinds of crazy virtual reality-esque ideas, but we don’t have much faith that The PlayRoom is a proper harbinger for all of that. The tech is very cool, but we just can’t see the general public embracing the concept. Then again, maybe that’s overt cynicism. Hypothetically you readers represent the average consumer, so what say you? Does anything in that clip make you giddy with joy for the future? Comments below. Be brutal.


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