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An Ode to My Launch PlayStation 4

Thank you for seven years of keeping it together and not dying on me.

As of today, November 11, 2020, my PlayStation 4 is the only console I’ve ever owned that lasted me an entire console generation. I bought the thing on launch day, November 15, 2013, and I fully expected to go through at least two PS4s in those seven years based on past experience. My family went through three Xbox 360s, three PlayStation 2s, three PlayStations, two Wiis, three GameCubes, so I thought console death was just a fact of life. As inevitable as taxes and a new Call of Duty every year. Yet, here I sit, hours away from the launch of the PlayStation 5, and my PS4 hasn’t really given me any issues over the years. There was a brief period where I thought I was going to have to send it to Sony for repairs around the time The Last of Us: Remastered was coming out, but the issue resolved itself before I sent it in, so that never came to be.

I’m a person who gets fairly sentimental about games and the stories they tell, but not usually pieces of technology, and certainly haven’t been for game systems over the years. I upgrade phones when I need to, I was more than willing to cast aside my iPods when I got a smartphone that could serve that purpose instead, but now that I realize I’m a day away of maybe never playing my PlayStation 4 again, I’m feeling some kind of way about putting the thing in a box, or selling it, or donating it, or whatever it is I decide to do with it.

The thing I’m hung up on is that the PlayStation 4 was launching at a crucial point in my life. I’d cut off a toxic friend group and was trying to reorient myself in the world, and in the midst of that I was also pivoting into journalism, specifically to write about the games industry. That association means I can pretty much map the past seven years of my life to the games I was playing on it. The system came out when I was starting to write game reviews for my university’s newspaper. Infamous: Second Son was the last review I wrote over there in my first year as a journalism student, and I still wear the hat I got from its special edition to this day. Dragon Age: Inquisition launched when I was working at my first job at a games site, and that site is where I met some of my best friends in the industry (including the one I would go on to start a Bioware retrospective podcast with four years later). I played Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End for review in 2016, and that was the game I knew I’d wanted to experience in that way as soon as I’d started writing about games. Persona 5 was the game I got my first “breakout” article for. Then I went back to college, dove headfirst into Overwatch for a college final in a video game course, and that game still has its hooks in me now.

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But beyond my professional life, moments in my personal life are deeply tied to the games I put in my PlayStation 4 over the past seven years. I remember dumping hours into Infamous: First Light after I’d moved into my own apartment, dealing with the isolation of living alone and not being able to afford it working a retail job that did everything in its power to ensure keeping my head above water was a constant struggle. Injustice 2 became my first “forever” game, where I spent hundreds of hours playing online matches as I attempted to think about anything other than my deadend job. Life is Strange Before: The Storm was a game that me and my ex bonded over, as we saw so much of our relationship in those characters as they longed for any way out of their small town lives.

Even this year, major touchstones of my late 20s still came to me and felt tied to the video game my PlayStation 4 was running. Like Persona 5 Royal feeling like a radicalizing but bittersweet moment at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, to The Last of Us Part II arriving as my father passed away, intertwining my life with Ellie’s story forever.

Thinking on all the time that’s passed from when I walked into a GameStop and left with my PlayStation 4 to tomorrow, when I’ll walk out of that GameStop again with a PS5 in hand maybe just signals to me how much can change in the time between console generations, as well as just how little has in the grand scheme of things. Sure, I’ll get in my feelings about the games I mentioned above all the same, and they’ll all still be there and playable on my PS5 should I feel a need to go back to them. But thinking back on the past seven years and how many moments in my life this same PlayStation 4 has been around for, it’s sad to say goodbye. But hopefully the PlayStation 5 I bring home will last me just as long, and maybe it’ll be around for a happier, less tumultuous seven years than this PS4 was. 

So thanks for helping me through it PlayStation 4. You can drift away with your loud ass fans and long download speeds.

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Kenneth Shepard

Kenneth is a Georgia-based writer who still periodically cries about the Mass Effect trilogy years after it concluded.

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