Will SOCOM Return To PlayStation?
There is a large group of hardcore shooter fans out there who have shown over 10 years of loyalty to PlayStation. Sony birthed this niche, rabid fanbase back in 2002 when the network adapter was catapulted by the success of SOCOM: U.S. Navy SEALs. The first three editions shattered simultaneous user logins for the PlayStation network, and had more clan mates logging in daily than all of Xbox Live combined at one point. At one time, SOCOM was the most competitive online console title of its generation.
It is currently the most requested game on the PlayStation.Blog.Share website, the community still posts about it daily, yet there is no word from PlayStation in regards to the future of the franchise.
A large portion of the community has coined the phrase “SOCOM is dead” after barely surviving the PS3 attempts at sequels. SOCOM: Confrontation (developed by Slant 6) carried an immense amount of hype and appeared to be the sequel the fans had been waiting for. Unfortunately, the title released broken and took over 7 months of patches to function properly. There were some unfavorable changes to the franchise that Confrontation introduced, but the biggest issue has been jailbroken PS3’s that have left the online-only servers in shambles with hacks, exploits, and hardware freezes. SOCOM 4 (developed by the late Zipper Interactive) decided to give the franchise a major overhaul taking influences from COD and Uncharted. The game was not received well by the longtime community, and it did not gain the attention of the mainstream gaming demographic it tried to target.
The SOCOM series has slowly spiraled out of control for the last 7 years due to mismanagement and unnecessary revamps. The first two SOCOMs were very successful, and every sequel afterwards tried to overhaul the gameplay, or attempted to reach a different fanbase. This has confused the longtime SOCOM community who have diligently asked for the simplicity that was found in the first two titles. The SOCOM formula has changed dramatically over the years, with yearly sales dwindling with every tweak. To the longtime SOCOM community, the issue with the franchise seems like a very simple one to fix. The disenfranchised group has a very simple mantra: “Give us SOCOM 2 HD, an HD collection with multiplayer capabilities, or a real sequel inspired by the first two releases.”
The longtime SOCOM community has tried everything it can to get Sony’s attention. They have created their own fansite, which some argue is currently more active than the official SOCOM.com website. They have networked themselves on Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook to promote social events, interact with key figures in the gaming industry, and to better leverage their causes. They have written emails to the gaming press and to Sony & PlayStation to raise awareness. They have assembled some great responses with online polls, (15,000+ votes) and they still get together weekly for social gaming nights. They still upload YouTube videos weekly, create SOCOM artwork, and even record their own podcasts and in-game conversations. It seems as though the entire industry is ignoring SOCOM except the consumers who refuse to walk away. And they refuse to walk away because the SOCOM franchise offers a unique third-person online experience that they can’t find anywhere else. They have searched for 7 years now and still cannot find a proper replacement.
Why does SOCOM receive such a cold shoulder outside of its own fanbase? I personally read gaming headlines daily, and some of things that have happened over the years in the world of SOCOM is definitely news worthy. Some of the PR that the community has created is definitely worthy of a response by Sony as well. Yet, the fans rarely receive any acknowledgement by either side. Some wonder if the PS3 has created a stigma for the SOCOM franchise that few entities out there want to deal with. One theory is that the PS3 versions have completely altered the perception of the franchise by the newer generations of gamers who have little respect from what they have seen in recent years. (most longtime fans don’t blame them, but actually feel the same way) The SOCOM franchise is the most hacked gaming series that PlayStation has ever seen, including the PS2 and the PS3. An old hacking clan that originated from the SOCOM series was recently charged by federal prosecutors as one of the culprits that caused the PSN Blackout in 2011. (This should let you know the seriousness of the hacking that has taken place on the SOCOM servers. And isn’t it ironic that the PSN Blackout occurred right after SOCOM 4 released?) Has SOCOM turned into an embarrassment for Sony that they would rather forget about? Not only does it represent an awful stain in security, but the franchise has lead to the closure of one of Sony’s longtime exclusive developers (Zipper), and over 7 years of declining SOCOM sales as a whole. It seems that everything has been attempted at some point with the SOCOM franchise. Everything but returning to its roots that is…
According to VGChartz, the successful Uncharted franchise has sold 17.57 million copies worldwide. The PS4 has decided to use Killzone as the signature shooter exclusive for its debut after selling 7.13 million copies in lifetime sales. Jak & Daxter received a collection after having 5.15 million copies sold globally. So what about the SOCOM franchise? SOCOM has sold 15.17 million copies worldwide. Most knowledgeable gamers can quote a long list of recent HD remakes, and can surely highlight all of PlayStation’s successful (and unsuccessful) exclusives. SOCOM ranks pretty high up on those lists, especially when it comes to PS exclusive shooters. It is in the same neighborhood as Uncharted in regards to sales, is way more popular than numerous recent collections that have been green-lit, and still has an active community daily.
From the SOCOM fanbase’s point of view, none of this makes any sense. SOCOM has better numbers than other titles out there currently getting the spotlight, it has arguably one of the most active and voracious PS exclusive fanbases under Sony’s umbrella, and their demands are quite simple and realistic. Why won’t the gaming press cover these stories about SOCOM? Fans submit articles on N4G all the time, and most receive decent ratings and contain plenty of comments. When the PS2 SOCOM serves were shut down, a huge post on Reddit stayed on the front page for 2 days and received over 10,000 upvotes and over 1,500 comments. We have seen 100+ retweets and 100+ Facebook likes on fan created posts this past year. Online polls have competed with other consumer driven polls in gaming that have made recent headlines on IGN, Kotaku, and Game Informer. Almost any online shooter that is available on the PlayStation 3 is filled with old SOCOM clans and disenfranchised SOCOM players. SOCOM is everywhere, with the exception of major gaming media outlets, and of course its future with PlayStation.
It just goes to show that you can have hundreds of thousands of fans waiving their dollars in the air, but it doesn’t guarantee that a company is interested in taking note of it. Or if PlayStation does have SOCOM on their radar, the SOCOM community sure doesn’t know about it. What else can we do? There are rumors of some longtime fans working on a new project to help gain more exposure when it comes to the SOCOM saga and its future. There are also several indie developers who are aware of the void SOCOM has left behind and are currently working towards filling the gap. But from my point of view, I just can’t understand why PlayStation isn’t actively supporting this franchise. A recent poll on TheRealSOCOM.com revealed that over 50% of the SOCOM community polled does not plan on buying a PS4 until a new SOCOM is announced. For some PlayStation fans out there, their 10+ years of loyalty and thousands each spent on PS consoles and other PS games just doesn’t seem worth it anymore. Sony has a chance to appeal to a much larger demographic than they might imagine if a SOCOM sequel was done properly. Imagine the most competitive online shooter on the PS4 with cutting edge graphics, classic gameplay, first AND 3rd person views, and online community features that are built completely around a competitive clan of gamers. The PC is really the only platform that truly caters to hardcore shooter fans and clans this day and age, but wouldn’t it be great if Sony decided to change that on the PS4?
You may see thousands of SOCOM fans voicing their opinions weekly, but there are millions of SOCOM fans out there silently waiting for that long awaited announcement as they play COD, BF3, Arma, CS, and countless other shooters to pass the time.
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