Forced installs and the PS3: Are they here to stay?

As more and more developers have come to grips with the complexity of  programming for it, supporters of the platform have seen a resurgence of the PlayStation brand. Several high profile games have landed in the waiting hands of eager gamers, and for the most part, mirror their Xbox 360 counterparts — but has it come at a cost? The PS3 really is beginning to morph into a PC, and that has startled some fans of console gaming.

We saw the first glimpse of this when we started downloading demos from PSN. Instead of mimicking the relatively seamless Xbox Live formula that we had been accustomed to, Sony opted to have us install the games on our hard drive in a way that closely resembled the PC experience.

Next came news that Epic was offering us the choice of installing Unreal Tournament III on the drive, in an effort to shorten loading times. We shrugged it off again, as it seemed to be in our best interests at the time. The key to it all was that we were still empowered by choice: we could still enjoy the game without the install, and it never once felt forced.

More on this, after the jump. 

Then came the stunner that sent 40GB PS3 owners reeling: Devil May Cry 4 would require you to install the game before playing it. As expected, message boards lit up with angry gamers wondering why the Xbox 360 — a Microsoft platform — was able to do what the PS3 version could not: play smoothly without making us sit through a 20-minute install beforehand. After all, wasn’t Devil May Cry native to the PlayStation bloodline?

Now we have word from of PS3Style (who claims to have a pre-release copy of the game) that they’ve done it again with the port of Lost Planet. Stunning? Maybe not, but I wouldn’t exactly call it welcome news either. The option to install the game on your PS3 is attractive, but the magic is sort of lost when the choice is taken away from us. And bear in mind, we’re not talking about some upstart company here — this is Capcom, and they are highly respected for creating some of the greatest games on any platform.

So what does this mean for the future of the PS3? Can this be tossed aside as part of the growing pains that we must endure while the last remaining gremlins (with programming for it) are ironed out… or is this the price we have to pay for Sony making their console so radical in the eyes of those that give it life — through their code?

We’ve seen some spectacular games on the PS3 since its release, and we look forward to a time when the console’s big names really start flowing onto the platform like in the past. However, we hope that developers don’t use the hard drive as a crutch much longer. We prefer to see it supplement our games instead, like the way things used to be. Regardless of what happens, we don’t want to see forced installs becoming a trend. It has to stop.