Earlier this month, the official PlayStation YouTube account uploaded a trailer for a game called "Life of Black Tiger". The mature adventure game, which appears to be a port of a free mobile title, looks like crap -- but it has sparked a discussion over the quality of games that players expect to see on consoles.
Now, the trailer for Life of Black Tiger, embedded above, was originally uploaded on January 12. After some backlash, the footage was briefly unavailable for mysterious reasons, though it has since resurfaced online. As of this writing, it has 738,779 views and 29,756 dislikes -- all because it looks like PS1 shovelware that appears to have stolen music from an anime. "Please tell me Sony is trolling us," one YouTube commenter wrote. "I feel so disrespected by this somehow," another dramatically wrote.
Of course, just because something looks bad doesn't mean it actually is. And so, YouTubers such as Jim Sterling have been giving this $US9.99 ($13) game a shot, so you don't have to (though it is unavailable in the Australian PlayStation store). You can watch a playthrough below:
Turns out, it's just as terrible as it looks. The thing nobody can figure out is if it's actually all a joke -- we reached out to Sony to inquire about the game, but have not heard back.
"This might be the worst game I've ever played on a console," Sterling said. Between the ugly graphics, shallow mechanics and awful controls, Sterling compared it to some of the bottom of the barrel games you might expect to see on Steam Greenlight, not a console. "There are no adequate words to describe how fucking unbelievable this game is," Sterling said.
Thing is, Life of Black Tiger is not alone. Increasingly, Sony has been promoting more games that players deem low-quality. Last year there was Solbrain: Knight of Darkness, which had a bunch of seemingly ripped-off art and music. More recently, the official PlayStation YouTube channel uploaded a trailer for Skylight Freerange 2: Gachduine, a $US14.99 ($20) game that makes Life of Black Tiger look pretty good by comparison:
This game is also unavailable in the Australian store. Here's the official description:
Skylight Freerange 2: Gachduine is an open world RPG that takes place in Nova Scotia in 2048. Choices can impact the storyline, available quests, final battles, which of the 23 party members make an appearance and are available, and endings.
After completing the initial quest, players are given free reign to do main quests, side quests (where the player's choices determine 1 of 3 ultimate side quests), explore world map and dungeons unassociated with quests, and engage in social situations with their allies, where they can become friends and enter relationships.
An expansion has been added for both the Playstation 4 and Playstation Vita versions, that adds Newfoundland's Avalon Peninsula and an additional questline to accompany it.
Hilariously, the game is rated M for Mature -- it has nudity and sexual themes, which I'm morbidly curious about.
PS4 fans have no idea what to make of all of this:
I don't actually have a problem with games like this appearing on the PlayStation Store -- I firmly believe that everyone should make games, and that not every game needs to be triple-A quality. If Joe Schmo wants to sell his small little game that he made over the weekend, hey, be my guest -- so long as nobody is misled into buying a game they don't want, it's all good to me.
That said, games like Life of Black Tiger are drawing controversy because they appear to be endorsed by Sony itself, just by virtue of being on the official PlayStation YouTube. It's easy for fans to look at the aforementioned trailers and wonder why Sony appears to be marketing games that just aren't up to snuff. It's possible that Sony is less involved with the YouTube channel than people assume, but then the question becomes: Should they be stepping in to do some damage control?
This is all stuff PC gamers are very familiar with thanks to Steam, but on the latest generation of consoles, the question of "quality" is still up for debate.