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[ Writer ] = BAD
[ 01/20/05 ] = Brilliance Left On The Cutting-Room Floor

2004 was a good year overall, but just like every other year there was inevitable disappointment. Disappointment is impossible to escape, and in 2004 it was especially disappointing to see that developers didn't implement HDD support into PS2 games nearly as much as they could have. Now that developers know the intricacies of the PS2 hardware, they are able implement HDD compatibility into games for quicker load times, storing data, and other functions. So, it seems like they would have made more games that utilize it because it's efficient, right? Wrong. Lately developers have been lazy, and they haven't been implementing HDD support into new games (even though they can). Sure, there have been a few HDD-compatible games here and there (Capcom VS SNK 2, Resident Evil Outbreak, Soul Calibur II, Final Fantasy XI, and the ESPN sports series), but there needs to be more. The technology is there, they know how to implement it, and there are a good number of people who actually own the HDD, so what's the problem? That "consumer demand isn't high enough," or that "Final Fantasy XI didn't sell as well as initially expected?" Not good enough. There are plenty of people out there who have bought the HDD and FFXI; some bought it because they actually wanted FFXI, but many (like myself) bought the package for the HDD itself.

Nevertheless, both sides bought it and expected to see games that would utilize it, but to no avail, in 2004 both sides were left out in the cold. The biggest reason why HDD package sales have taken a nosedive is because people have heard about how there are hardly any games that utilize it; they want to buy it, but then they think, "what's the use if there are hardly any games that utilize it?" It took a while for the HDD to come out stateside, but developers still could have made games with HDD support; the HDD has been available in Japan for quite some time, so there's no excuse. Recent games like Capcom Fighting Evolution, Onimusha: Blade Warriors, and KOF: Maximum Impact (among many others, I'm sure) could have been HDD-compatible to kill load times. Were they? No. Developers haven't been making PlayStation 2 games compatible with the HDD for the same reason they haven't been making GameCube games compatible with the Broadband Adapter; because they're lazy. They can make games compatible with these peripherals, they just don't want to.

And to make matters worse, there have been Japanese titles actually utilize the HDD, but when the titles were released stateside SCEA made their respective developers take HDD support out of them; for example, the Japanese versions of Capcom VS SNK 2 and Soul Calibur II actually utilize the HDD to cut load times. Why did SCEA do this? Because at the time they weren't sure if the HDD would be released in the US, or not? Bullshit. They didn't have to make developers take HDD support out altogether; HDD support could have been left in, one way or another. It was possible, but because SCEA made choices like this, to the consumer the HDD comes off as nothing more than a gimmick. By making developers take HDD support out of their games, Sony got the HDD got off to a bad start and it may never be fully utilized. This is unfortunate because the HDD is capable of so much more than what we've seen, and its true potential may never be realized.

So who's at fault? Developers or SCEA? Both. Developers for being lazy, and SCEA for being flaky. Developers could have been adamant and persistent to keep HDD support (instead of letting SCEA take HDD support out of their games), and SCEA could have did more to support the HDD. It's a great hardware add-on with lots of potential, but SCEA has been more concerned with other, less important matters to pay attention to the HDD. It's unfortunate that SCEA has ignored the HDD, because with proper support they could say, "look, we have a hard drive, too!" to rival the XBox, but they haven't even tried. Sony needs to make HDD compatibility a priority so that it becomes second-nature when developers make new games; there's no reason at all why games shouldn't be HDD-compatible. Come on; how hard can it be to program games so that the HDD can be used for direct-saving or for decreasing load-times? Well, considering the hardware has been out for five years now, it shouldn't be too hard now, should it? Sure, it may take some effort and/or collaboration, but in the end isn't that what making games is all about? If both Sony and developers could get their shit together, we might be able to see some quality HDD-compatible titles toward the end of PS2 development...