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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A Perspective on Sony's E3 Press Conference

I have to put it out there right from the start that I am not a fan girl. I’ve never held any particular preference to a console – I play games according to title and platform, but maybe, just maybe, that might be about to change.

Sony couldn’t have started E3 2013 on a better note. The last press conference of a long day that began with Microsoft, EA, Ubisoft and finally Sony, was left on a high note as Playstation knocked it out of the park.

The event kicked off with a spectacular stage show, typical of all the big budget events today, and an announcement that Sony would still be supporting the PS3 and the Vita.

Considering the Vita hasn’t sold well in general, this is a valiant attempt by Sony to revitalize their handheld console, and indeed they even stated that this would be the ultimate companion device to the PS4. If the rest of the announcements are any indication, then they might just, in fact, succeed.

After a quick round up of still impressive titles for the PS3, including Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us, which incidentally is one of the best games I've played in ages and has received rave reviews, Sony leapt right into their reveal of the PS4, with the announcement that the PS4 was still focused on the gamer.

Yes, it also engages with Cloud based technology, and it was described by its makers as “sleek and visually impactful”. The look and feel of both new next gen consoles this year seems to be tending towards the boxy, although I do prefer the design of the PS4 overall. That said, design means nothing if the machine and the content it offers don’t deliver.

Luckily for Sony, that doesn’t appear to be the case. They described their new machine, and indeed the Playstation family, as “defined by breakthrough content” that was “relevant and meaningful”.

It might sound like all talk, and indeed there was definitely a great deal of PR jargon being bandied about there. I noticed in particular the careful avoidance by the speakers of the word “television”, speaking instead about “entertainment” on this new platform, when referring to Video and Music Unlimited services. Sony certainly weren’t going to make the same mistake as Microsoft and were diligent in their attempts to emphasise that all the entertainment on the PS4 would be tailored specifically to meet the needs of the gamers, although how they can identify what types of entertainment all gamers like is beyond me.

That said, they definitely concentrated more on the gaming aspects of this platform than anything else, which speaks a lot in their favour.

With an impressive gaming line up in store, they showcased an entirely new exclusive PS4 title, The Order 1886 by Ready At Dawn Studios, plus titles we’ve already heard of such as Killzone Shadow Fall and Driveclub, both of which will be available at launch, as well as Infamous Second Son and Knack.

A beautiful demo of The Dark Sorcerer by Heavy Rain developers Quantic Dream had us marveling at the PS4’s capabilities as we saw some amazing real time rendering demonstrations including cloth, particles and hair, displaying smoothly without a moments lag all at the same time.

Sony confirmed that not only would they continue to support Indie developers, but that in fact they were offering developers the opportunity to self publish their own content. They then showcased a number of titles that would be available via the PSN in the coming months.

Final Fantasy Versus XIII and Final Fantasy XV made an appearance, both of which have been confirmed for PS3 and PS4.

Assassins Creed Black Flag, wowed us with a gameplay demo, right up until the point that it froze and they hurriedly switched to a different feed, that of one of the most anticipated next gen titles, Watch Dogs.

This was the game most of the assembled journos had been waiting to see at the Ubisoft conference, and were sorely disappointed by the absence of gameplay. It therefore came as a pleasant surprise to all when it made an appearance at the Sony conference. It certainly left most incredibly impressed, heightening anticipation for this game even further.

After a quick sports round up by 2K Sports where Lebron James spoke to his digital self, it was revealed that The Elder Scrolls Online by Bethesda Softworks would be coming to PS4 next year. A rather unexpected Mad Max trailer also made a brief debut.

Sony revealed that there are over 140 games in development worldwide at the moment for the PS4, with 40 of those titles carrying exclusive experiences for the console.

Then came the bombshell.

The Playstation 4 will support used games.

And the Playstation 4 will not require a constant Internet connection.

The assembled crowd broke into cheers that continued with each fresh announcement.

The fact that you’ll now likely have to pay to play online by buying a Playstation Plus membership was almost forgotten by most, and completely overshadowed by the “no DRM” announcement.

In fact, most people seem to feel that as compromises go, it’s a fair one compared to Sony’s competitor and their distinct lack of comment regarding the DRM issue.

After a last demonstration of some Destiny co-op gameplay, which while beautiful, was mostly forgotten in light of the discussion about the console, Sony put the cherry on the top.

The Playstation 4 will be priced at $399.

That’s a full $100 cheaper than the Xbox One, which was confirmed by Microsoft at $499.

While Microsoft has indeed now made a significant turnaround with regards to their DRM policies etc, at this point my money is on the PS4.

+1 to Sony.

Credits: Image from Official Playstation Magazine UK


  1. This is such good news. Take that Microsoft. Thanx for a great review Pippa. So exited and can't wait.

  2. Awesome, this is a great read of what I'm sure, everyone has been thinking since the conference. What made the ps4 and Sony's brand more of a home run was the gamelab conference by Mark Cerny about his and Sony's history together leading up to the ps4. Warms the heart.

  3. A few people may disagree with me here but I think the reason Sony or the PS4 did so well is because Microsoft and the Xbone did so bad, at the conference. If you take a closer look the PS4 it's not exactly revolutionary, yes the new controller is better and has one or two new features but its not much in the way of innovation. The Xbone on the other hand has quite a range of new features and now that they have removed their DRM policies it is looking very good in comparison. Even with the price differences I think the Xbone still has a very strong chance competing with the PS4 and at the end of the day it's going to boil down to what exclusives we want to play, or play more. Personally I'm probably going to get both but I had to just say that personally I wasn't "wowed" by the PS4 but with DRM gone from the Xbone I was definately "wowed". It just feels to me like Sony did pretty much the same old thing just with up to date hardware where as Microsoft actually sat back and thought:" what can we do thats fresh?" anyways just my opinion on the matter, like I said a few people may disagree, please feel free to banter!

    1. Interestingly I don't disagree with you. I will also probably get both, but for many people that's not an option.

      I wasn't wowed by the Xbox One, DRM or no, but I can certainly see your point, and I agree I think it will still, much like the current gen, come down to personal preference and exclusives. Xbox definitely did do something fresh, I won't deny that but I'm not entirely certain that they didn't try and do too much. Making small changes that are perfected might end up being better than making big changes that are buggy and don't work as well as they should.

      I'm also open to debate, I enjoy it, so your opinion is most definitely welcome :) As an aside you might like to check out this comparison, it's an interesting read regardless of opinion. http://imgur.com/r/gaming/MLPe57O

    2. I disagree. As far as I can see the PS4 wins on all fronts. More powerful system, better internals and really is built for gamers. The XBOX One is a multimedia machine, and half the features will not works outside the US. Eg, the stupid NFL gimmick, cable TV connection and program recommendations and all.

      Microsoft never thought about innovation, it's simple business. Incorporate more things (that most people never use) in an effort to differentiate your product and it also means greater loyalty to their products from the few who do use said features. Even the mid game switching and all is something even they took from the PS Vita and PS3. MS don't innovate. They just replicate and increment.

      As for exclusives, EA pulled out of their stupid online deal with MS cause they can see PS4 dominating. And as we saw with current gen, the most dominant console wins the most exclusives. And as PS4 will undoubtedly be the world favourite (no DRM, Price, great for Vita Owners, no need for peripheral hardware and or internet and an XBOX Live Gold member ship at $60 a year to access features which should be built in such as internet explorer and even demo downloads) Sony has won this fight.

      I respect your opinion but if your anything like most gamers (ie not made of money) PS4 stands out. And best believe MS will bring back the DRM they just axed. Probably after they get a 2-3 million sales