Sony (and other) E3 Conference Impressions

PlayStation 4

It’s hard to walk away from E3’s round of console manufacturer and publisher press conferences and look at anyone but Sony as the big winner going forward. However I don’t think their press conference was perfect. I feel like a bloated unfocused first half along with its fair share of issues were overshadowed by the PS4 price and lack of DRM. The latter of which isn’t Sony doing something right as much as something that should be expected of these companies. Microsoft happened to make it look like a gift though. But let’s start from the beginning.

The first portion of the conference was dedicated to Sony’s current two systems and here is where they first let me down. I feel like Sony confirmed they have given up on the Vita. It’s such a shame because it is everything portable hardware should be. Sony almost singlehandedly made the launch worthwhile, but with poor sales, third-parties never jumped on board. I figured at least Sony would throw me a few games my way to keep busy with, but with so few exclusive titles going forward and not much announced at the conference it is hard to look at the system as anything but dead (I am really excited for Tearaway still though). I wonder what my favorite handheld studio of the last 10 or so years, Sony Bend, is up to. And I’m wondering if they wouldn’t just be better off moving to PS4 development. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

After spending a couple minutes more or less confirming my worst fears about the Vita, Sony touched on the PS3 which still has some gems coming its way including this week’s The Last of Us and the very promising Puppeteer from Sony’s Japan Studio. Going forward into the PS4 talks is where things lose a bit focus. There was talk of various TV and movie services. Then quite a bit on multiplatform games which I’m never big at console makers’ press events. Especially stuff like Watch Dogs (which looks fantastic, but we’ve seen plenty of) and Assassin’s Creed IV (which as a series I personally couldn’t be much more bored with). Destiny looked excellent at least.

The Order 1886

The Order 1886 features an intriguing Victorian-era setting, but I’m not sure I love the alternate reality angle

The reason I love PlayStation is because of their strong first-party development and exclusives. And I would have loved to have seen some more of those teased. We did see a bit more of the ones that debuted at the initial reveal (Drive Club, Infamous: Second Son, Killzone: Shadow Fall and Knack) which was nice. Of those games, I’m definitely most interested in Infamous, but I was hoping it would be a bigger departure especially from a superpowers standpoint than its predecessors. Regardless a live demo for the game definitely would have been a better use of time than an Assassin’s Creed one. Otherwise Sony’s first parties didn’t show a ton. Ready at Dawn showed a new exclusive, the oft-rumored The Order 1886. I’m happy to see the talented team at Ready at Dawn working on something original. The time period excited me, but when wacky guns came out it deflated the moment a little for me. It still looks intriguing and better this concept than another bog-standard modern shooter I suppose. While the trailer didn’t feature any gameplay, I’m okay with some teaser trailers like these before consoles are released to give buyers a glimpse into the future. I kind of wish we might have seen one from Naughty Dog’s second team, Media Molecule or one of the other internal teams at Sony currently unaccounted for. I guess those games will be shown in time, but I would have loved to see something else this week. Final Fantasy 15 and Kingdom Hearts 3 are obviously huge deals for the right audience, but they are out of my wheelhouse, so do not fill that void for me personally.

And then the end came around and they dropped the bombs of how the PS4 would not block used games, not require online check-ins and be priced at $399. These are great news though I expected them all. The price feels right for the system and looks all the better because the Xbox One will be going for $100 more. I don’t really understand why people are acting like Sony allowing used games and having no system wide DRM is some kind of gift. It’s exactly what they should be doing. Exactly what we should expect of them. It just turns out they aren’t as stupid as Microsoft about this particular issue. Sony even snuck in the fact that they are putting online multiplayer behind a paywall amongst all the cheering. PlayStation Plus is a fantastic service, but I will never like having to pay extra to play online multiplayer. And Sony making the right moves with used games and DRM doesn’t make this other move okay.

Obviously what Sony did is enough to put the PS4 in the best position going into this next generation of games. I’m not trying to sound like a downer. I am at my heart a PlayStation gamer and I pre-ordered one after the conference last night (I didn’t need much convincing last night to be honest, but was waiting for details like price and the like). I guess I just wanted them to wow me a little more with some new PS4 exclusive announcements and not turn my Vita into high priced Wii U gamepad for my PS4. Overall it was still a good conference and I am very excited to get my hands on the PS4.

Sunset Overdrive

Let’s hope Sunset Overdrive doesn’t lose its colorful look by release like Insomniac’s last game

Some quick thoughts on the other conferences:

  • Microsoft actually had a good conference. They showed a ton of games, more exclusives than MS usually does. Insomniac’s new shooter with parkour elements, Sunset Overdrive, caught my eye and while TitanFall is a little out of my wheelhouse it did look really fun and that is just naming a couple. There was a lot to like, but the price was high (even before Sony’s announcement) and it still had the used game/online check-ins looming over the conference. Just based on content, one of MS’ better conferences in recent years.
  • EA (and DICE) announced a new Mirror’s Edge at their conference!!! What else matters?!? I’m going to write a blog about it in later this week, but it was my favorite announcement at E3.
  • Ubisoft has a lot of games I’m looking forward to, but their conference wasn’t very good. Between an obnoxious host and a little too much pre-rendered footage it was kind of a mess from a presentation standpoint. Rayman: Legends, Watch Dogs and Splinter Cell: Blacklist are all games I plan to buy and their new IP The Division looked interesting. I was hoping for a new Prince of Persia game or a sighting of Beyond Good & Evil 2 though. But it was really a classic Ubi presser. Horrifying to watch, but some games I really want.
  • Nintendo really underwhelmed me. I recently finished Donkey Kong Country Returns and it is a great game, but I would have much rather Retro had been working on a new Metroid, a new IP or even a different Nintendo series than this. Super Mario 3D World is not what I expected from the new Mario game. The co-op, cat suit and SMB2-esque abilities look cool, but the isometric perspective was disappointing to me. Mario Kart 8 looked like technically impressive Mario Kart with a twist, but I eat Mario Kart up and I’m sure me and friends will be playing plenty of local multiplayer on that when I get a Wii U. It just felt like Nintendo gave us what we expected and little else.

That’ll do it for now. I will be back with some more E3 blogs throughout the week, so keep an eye out for those. Let me know what you thought of yesterday’s press conferences in the comments below. Thanks for reading!


4 thoughts on “Sony (and other) E3 Conference Impressions

  1. I actually missed out on the live Microsoft press conference but was able to watch the trailers and gameplay that they revealed as well as highlights from the conference itself. I was luckily able to watch all of the Sony press conference live, and I must say I was able to make to the better show.

    Ever since the console reveals starting with Sony in February I have been realizing how much I appreciate Sony. The PS4 reveal made me feel fantastic about the next generation, but watching Microsoft;s reveal left me with a confused look on my face. I felt the same with these E3 press conferences. I was in awe and genuinely excited during the Sony conference but wasn’t too impressed with what I saw from Microsoft.

    Bottom line is that Sony is winning this next generation console war by a landslide and Microsoft has a lot of catching up to do. It;s such a role reversal from current gen in which the Xbox 360 seemed to get more praise overall than the PS3.

    • Very true. I feel Sony’s early struggles with the PS3 have humbled them. They had like 70-80% market share back on PS2 and rolled into this gen a little full of themselves, but then there was the $600 price, some partners going multiplatform and they changed. And you really see the difference now I think and back to the PS4 reveal too. Much friendlier console for devs and consumers. They’ve beefed up first party development through the last 6-7 years to be better equipped for a world with less third-party exclusives.

      And then you have MS on the other side with some baffling decisions. It will be interesting to see what they do from here on out because between the price and the DRM stuff, Sony really walloped them this week.

  2. I’m ignoring any Xbox One exclusive games, because I’ll never get purchase that console. They’ve done too much to alienate the consumer, and that’s nothing no amount of interesting looking games can fix. Besides, I bet most of those “exclusives” will eventually make their way to the PS4 or PC.

    Nintendo impressed me, mostly by reminding me I still love their franchises. There is just a lot of charm to their games that no other company has really managed to capture.

    Sony is doing great, but only in contrast to Microsoft. When it comes down to the games, I really didn’t see anything that interested me. There’s just too much coming out on the PS3 now, and knowing the PS4 can’t play those makes it hard to want to pick-up the console this early.

    • I’m definitely curious which games will stay exclusive. If it isn’t by an internal dev, I usually don’t believe it. I thought Nintendo played it so safe that I was a bit disappointed, but you make a good point in that I will enjoy all of those games. The PS3 still has a lot of life in it. The Last of Us, Puppeteer, Rayman and Beyond are all on my radar.

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