Budget conscious PS2 gamers will shortly have a range of brand new £9.99 titles to choose from, thanks to a newly formed UK publisher by the name of Play It.
According to a report in trade magazine MCV, four titles will be launched initially (Play It Pinball, Cell Damage Overdrive, Seek & Destroy, and Road Trip), with up to 20 available by the summer.
While we certainly applaud any attempt to bring out cheaper games, reading between the lines, it would appear that these titles aren't being pitched to raise the pulse of the average gamer. Quoting MCV, the strategy of Play It is to "take advantage of the huge [PS2] installed base" and "the titles will obviously not be targeted at enthusiast gamers, but at casual or gift purchasers".
So that'll be not targeted at us, and presumably you too.
Forgive us a little rant for a moment, but does an already saturated PS2 software market that is already populated with a bewildering myriad of spirit crushingly bad games need more potentially terrible games? We don't want to write off their chances before we've seen so much as a screenshot, but a range of games that were (most likely) rejected by other publishers doesn't really bode well (for example, is Cell Damage Overdrive a sequel to EA's flop Cel Damage…?).
And while we're at it, let's take issue for a moment with this woolly notion of the "casual" gamer. We all know plenty of casual gamers, that maybe buy the odd one or two games a year. Does that mean that their quality threshold goes down? From experience, casual gamers try to buy the best games, but find themselves duped into buying licensed pap because they don't know any better.
What of "gift purchasers"? This also implies that the company is taking advantage of a non gamers' lack of knowledge of what would make a good present. "Oh look, it's cheap - that'll do." Given that there's literally hundreds of discounted or vastly superior budget games out there, adding more chaff to the pile is a wearisome prospect.
On the other hand, if Play It gets it right, as Firebird did (to an extent) back in the '80s, we could find a number of quirky gems emerge - games considered too left field and original for most publishers to dare to take the risk on.
For everyone's sake, let's hope it's the latter prospect.