With Microsoft’s combination of Xbox Live and the Game Pass continuing to set the bar for online console gaming, it was only a matter of time before Sony finally decided to provide an equivalent solution for their loyal fan base… and Sony has finally answered that question. Well… kind of… and also not really. Sony’s long-awaited answer is to merge the current benefits of their online multiplayer service with their PlayStation Now game library into one platform… with three separate price points based on your interest in their back catalog and the additional games available from other publishers. To be honest, that sounds a LOT like Game Pass so far. But there is ONE major difference between these two services that may impact your decision to pick up the highest cost version of PS+ available… while Microsoft includes ALL of their first-party releases (Halo Infinite, Gears, Forza, Flight Simulator etc.) on Game Pass the very first day they are released, Sony will not be doing the same thing. As a matter of fact, in his interview with Gamesindustry.biz PlayStation CEO Jim Ryan had this to say on the subject:
Now to be fair, not all first-party games are equal. While Microsoft’s history of self-published games tends to be a bit spotty, Sony has done an incredible job building their studios into AAA developmental juggernauts with highly acclaimed franchises such as Horizon, Spider-Man, Uncharted, Ratchet and Clank, and God of War all sitting comfortably as part of their personal portfolio of award-winning games. Simply “giving” the future releases of these franchises away on day one to anyone who decides to purchase a one-month membership would make it incredibly hard for Sony to recoup their massive multi-year investment into these titles. Nobody wants the quality of these games to decrease… but balancing the cost of developing these games with an online service price point that makes them accessible requires the kind of math that I stopped doing once I got out of high school. If I multiply the Pythagorean theorem by the square root of pi… carry the two… solve for the inverse variable of the hypotenuse… hmmmm. It seems the answer is that all these incredible games would immediately turn into sequels for Bubsy 3d. And that is not a future ANYONE wants or is prepared for. TRUST me.
On the surface both Sony and Microsoft are demonstrating a commitment to creating a game-streaming platform similar to a “Netflix for video games”, but they have dramatically different approaches to how they intend to navigate the streaming game space. Microsoft seems to be viewing their first-party games as a means of fueling the growth of their online service, while Sony sees the online service as simply an additional pillar of support for their AAA game studio releases. These radically different takes on what they are each prepared to invest (and risk) as we accelerate ever closer to a primarily digital gaming realm might seem small right now… but there will be a day when we will all look back on the decisions each of them made during this console generation as a defining moment for the entire gaming industry. Did Microsoft give too much away in their reckless commitment to the future? Did Sony fail to give enough in an attempt to mitigate their current risks and maximize today’s profit opportunities? Only time will tell…
In our lives we face a similar conundrum… a balance I will openly admit that I struggle with on a daily basis. While I am not responsible for deciding which games I will release on specific platforms (because I don’t MAKE games), I DO have a fairly similar dilemma in terms of my commitment level to the future versus my investment level to the present. Living my life in a manner that keeps my eternal destiny at the forefront of my mind while dealing with the mundane challenges and obstacles of my day-to-day existence is honestly very difficult. I feel caught between two different and seemingly diametrically opposed choices… how do we truly give God our “best” while still living life effectively as a physical, carbon-based being with needs and desires right here on earth? Am I giving the Lord the equivalent of “Horizon Zero Dawn” in my life, or am I holding my very best back and offering Him only the time and effort I have left? The answer to that question may lead to a darker place then I may have realized. We are going to jump back in time for the answers… waaaaaay back.
Most of us are at least moderately familiar with Cain, Abel, and the tragic ending to the story of the first two children born to Adam and Eve. But we are going to unwrap this dark chapter in human history by going back to the BEGINNING of the story… the place where the bitter fruit was only a seed of the horrific sin that would be manifested later on.
Genesis 4:2-5 Then she (Eve) had another baby, Abel. Abel was a herdsman and Cain a farmer. Time passed. Cain brought an offering to God from the produce of his farm. Abel also brought an offering, but from the firstborn animals of his herd, choice cuts of meat. God liked Abel and his offering, but Cain and his offering didn’t get his approval. Cain lost his temper and went into a sulk.
These two men both had a similar idea… to serve the Lord through giving Him an offering. But the THOUGHT behind these two offerings could not be more different. Keep in mind that this is the FOURTH chapter of the entire Bible… this was LONG before the Ten Commandments and prior to the Mosiac law… because, you know, Moses hadn’t been born yet. While I have heard many theological points of view on the nature of why Cain’s sacrifice was rejected, it is critical we look directly into the text itself rather than rely on well-meaning interpolation. While the obvious difference is that Abel gave a living being for the sacrifice and Cain gave of his produce, there is no indication that this was the issue. As a matter of fact, food and grain offerings were PART of the original Mosaic covenant and expected as part of the sacrifices given to the Lord (Leviticus 2) ... but they still had a stipulation attached. It had to be the very FIRST and the very BEST… only items made from the finest flour and the best part of the fields would be accepted. While Abel’s sacrifice was described as the first, the richest, and the best of what he had to offer, Cain simply offered “some produce”. He still “gave”… it just wasn’t described as His “best”… and the Lord only accepts our best. As Christ showed when observing the widow giving her two little mites, the Father is not looking at the QUANTITY of what we give Him, but the QUALITY of what we offer (Luke 21:1-4). Cain felt rejected and unappreciated by the Lord, and this frustration led him to a very dark place…
Genesis 4:6-8 So the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.” Now Cain talked with Abel his brother; and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him.
Cain took his frustration out on his brother, rejecting the Lord’s guidance to “do better” and instead directing his anger towards the innocent Abel. While the jump from frustration to cold-blooded murder seems incredibly sudden, the truth is it is only the grace of God that keeps a believer’s heart from returning to the darkness we were delivered from. And a heart that is not properly occupied by Christ in the first and BEST position doesn’t just go dark… it is plunged into an exponentially darker place than it was before as we see in Matthew 12…
Matthew 12:43-45 When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none. Then he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes, he finds it empty, swept, and put in order. Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first. So shall it also be with this wicked generation.
Cain found out the hard way that God is neither pleased with nor accepting of our “leftovers”. And when we choose to only give the Lord our leftover time, energy, and thoughts instead of the first and best parts we have to offer we will quickly find ourselves in a similar dark place. Are we giving Him the very best of ourselves, or just the rest of what we have left over? Are we giving God the full access “Game Pass” to our lives complete with the costliest and very best parts of what we have to offer, or are we giving Him the equivalent of a “PlayStation Plus” experience in which we give Him access to what we can “afford to give”, but not the premier parts of our lives? The Lordship of Christ in our lives must be absolute… the Lord will not accept second-billing, He will not share priority in our lives, and He will not tolerate receiving less than our very best. This may be hard to read, but as we see in Christ’s reaction to three different potential followers, choosing to follow Him when it is convenient for us is something Jesus flatly rejected.
Luke 9:57-62 Now it happened as they journeyed on the road, that someone said to Him, “Lord, I will follow You wherever You go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” Then He said to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God.” And another also said, “Lord, I will follow You, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house.” But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”
Sony has responded to Microsoft’s Game Pass with a solution that sounded good at first… but it is an offering that is actually costing them nothing to provide. Sony’s premier AAA titles will not be included in the PlayStation Plus service until they are no longer “first and best”… and while it is certainly their right to protect their primary intellectual properties from being diluted, Microsoft is boldly giving away the very best that they have to offer on day one to whoever is interested in signing up. Does it require a commitment? Absolutely… it requires a full commitment from BOTH sides. And the truth is that Christ committed Himself FULLY to us when He came down and gave us His ONLY life and the BEST parts of it… are we prepared to do the same? Our Father does not accept partial or secondary consideration… He gave us His very best, and our lives lived with Him at the center of our thoughts and seated firmly on the throne of our hearts is the price of admission.
If we are not sure if what we are offering is our best, then we probably already know the answer to that question. As David said plainly in 2 Samuel 24:24 ” I won’t offer the Lord a sacrifice that costs me nothing.” If there is no cost, then there is no sacrifice. The Lord is looking at the QUALITY of the committed time, intentional efforts, and specific actions we are giving to Him… and He can only accept the first and best of what we have to give. Does it cost us something? Absolutely. But what we receive from Him FAR outshines the value of the meager sacrifices we have to offer… both in this life and the life to come. When we give the Lord our very best, He is faithful to bless all of the rest. And when we reach our endgame, only what we have freely given Him will be waiting for us on the other side of the “game over” screen. Let’s not waste our time and efforts offering that which cost us nothing in a vain attempt to preserve temporary things that we don’t get to keep… instead, let’s set our hearts on offering the very best parts of our lives to Christ. Give Him the first parts and the best parts of our time, our hearts, our minds, and our abilities… it is only when we are willing to give Christ the parts of our lives that we didn’t want to lose that we will find the rewards that we never could have gained on our own.
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