GAMING

Horizon Lego Adventures Might Be The Final Nail In PS4’s Coffin

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The long-tail on the PlayStation 4 has been incredible. The console still has 49 million active users according to Sony’s most recent estimate. But all good things must come to an end, and it feels more clear than ever that Sony is ready to leave the PS5’s predecessor in the past, with Horizon Lego Adventures being the final nail in the coffin.

That increasing sense of bon voyage isn’t entirely new. The last major cross-gen exclusive Sony released was God Of War Ragnarök at the end of 2022. The following year’s Spider-Man 2 launched without a PS4 version. Burning Shores, 2023’s expansion for the cross-gen Horizon Forbidden West, was also a “next-gen” exclusive. “PlayStation 4 Generation Is Well And Truly Over!” one viral tweet from last summer read. “Crossgen Is Over!”

Despite hinting that development would be phased out by 2025, Sony has never officially confirmed that it’s done making games for the PS4. It’s last word on the subject came from recently minted PlayStation co-CEO Hermen Hulst in 2022. “We certainly don’t want to forget the millions of active players on PS4, and we want to ensure there are great games for them as well,” the then-head of PlayStation Studios told Axios at the time. “We’re evaluating it on a case-by-case basis.”

There was reason to think one or two first-party projects might still squeak out onto the older hardware. In addition to being on Nintendo Switch due to licensing demands, MLB The Show 24 also still came to PS4 and Xbox One. Then Sony revealed Horizon Lego Adventures at Summer Game Fest, a kid-friendly co-op game seemingly aimed at broadening the sci-fi series appeal.

To that end the it’s coming to Switch in addition to PS5 when it launches later this year, but weirdly not PS4. That feels like an intentional business decision rather than a technical necessity. The older system can clearly handle the benchmarks set by Nintendo’s aging handheld hybrid and is no doubt active in millions of households with children that still haven’t upgraded to PS5, and perhaps still won’t since this year’s Call of Duty, Madden, and EA FC Sports (formerly known as FIFA) will all be available on the last generation machines.

But 2024 has been full of of PlayStation console exclusives and almost all of them have skipped the PS4. Earlier this year those included Final Fantasy VII: Rebirth, Helldivers 2, Stellar Blade, and Rise of the Rōnin, the latter three of which were published by Sony. Granblue Fantasy: Relink was the lone exception, probably because its development was originally announced back in 2016.

More recently, Sony revealed its upcoming live service hero shooter Concord will be a PS5 console exclusive too. It may have been technically unfeasible to bring the Overwatch 2 competitor to a weaker system, but there certainly would have been an interest in aiming it at as big an audience of potential PS Plus subscribers as possible. Astro Bot skipping PS4 also doesn’t feel like it would have been a forgone conclusion given the more Nintendo-like scope of the project, though it’s easier to understand once you see how integrated the PS5 DualSense is into the fabric of what makes the game fun and compelling.

While unfortunate for PS4 owners, it wouldn’t be surprising if Sony has indeed quietly decided to turn the page on one of the best console-generations of all-time. If anything, it’s more shocking that the cross-gen party has lasted as long as it has. We’re already in the second half of the PS5’s lifecycle and platforms have traditionally ditched development on older console generations much sooner in an effort to get more people to upgrade sooner. Covid clearly disrupted the “normal” transition periods for the PS5 and Xbox Series X/S. And maybe ballooning first-party budgets did too. God Of War Ragnarök wouldn’t have set a sales record if it had been on new hardware alone.

It’s unclear if Horizon Lego Adventures and Astro Bot are evidence that Sony’s going to start rebuilding the smaller, less expensive part of its first-party portfolio. Is so, maybe there’s still hope for one last first-party game on PS4. Somehow I doubt it.

Sony did not respond to a request for comment.

        



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