E3: Sony Brings Down The House with the PlayStation 4
Even before last night's E3 Sony Press Conference, the company was making strides with gamers before showcasing the PlayStation 4. Showing clips that focused on game creativity (along with showcasing a few women developers), social media was buzzing with lots of good news. But it was Sony's announcement regarding used games that made the crowd present at E3 (along with Twitter) go wild.
Sony's Used Game Policy and "Always Online" Statement
The most important thing that PlayStation fans can take away from last night's event is this: Sony announced that there will be absolutely no restrictions on used games on the PlayStation 4. Once the wild cheering from the crowd died down, it was also announced that there will be no charges for media services, nor will there ever be a requirement for an online connection in order to play a game on the system. This was confirmed on stage by Jack Tretton, the President and CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment of America. Tretton confirmed his pledge to gamers everywhere by dedicating the entire presentation to them.
Obviously, that's not all Sony brought to the table last night. We saw a lot of games, including a few exclusives, along with actual gameplay. So let's start with the highlights.
The conference began with Tretton announcing that Sony is still committed to both the PS Vita and the PS3. Mentioning new release titles like The Last Of Us, along with trailers for Puppeteer, Rain, Beyond Two Souls, Grand Turismo 6 and Arkham Origins, Sony feels the PS3 is very much alive and well. "The PS3 continues to deliver hit after hit," Tretton said. He also said that there would be PlayStation exclusive content for both Arkham Origins and the highly anticipated Grand Theft Auto V.
Tretton briefly talked about the PlayStation Vita. According to him, the PS Vita is just beginning its life cycle. The PS Vita will also be getting some remastered classics: God of War and GOWII, Final Fantasy X and X-2, Flower and Dead Nation - those are all coming soon.
Also, the PS Vita will be able to tap into PS4 games that can be played on the handheld over Wi-fi with Remote Play. Calling the Vita the "ultimate companion device for the PS4," Tretton says that Skype, Netflix and YouTube all look beautiful on the mobile console.
Obviously, this conference focused almost solely on the PlayStation 4. We saw the controller in February, but the console itself was finally revealed last night. It's black, sleek and modern. To quote Andrew House, President and Group CEO, Sony Entertainment Group, it will be "visually impactful" in any room.
All the specs were announced in February, so the Sony presentation focused on two things: gaming on the PS4 and the PlayStation Network. The PS4 will retail for $399 in the U.S. ($100 less than the Xbox One) and will be available this holiday season (which in Sony-speak, could be as late as January).
To sum up, House stated, "True consumer ownership and trust are essential to everything we do."
What's a console without games? Shu Yoshida, President of Sony Entertainment Worldwide took the stage to showcase a few new and upcoming titles for the next-gen console. There are currently over 30 PS4 titles in development: 12 of those titles are brand new intellectual properties (IP's).
The Order was announced first. A game set in 1886 London, it looks to be a supernatural RPG from the trailer shown. There were also trailers for the titles announced back in February: Killzone: Shadow Fall, Drive Club, Knack and Infamous: Second Son. The first three of these titles will be released upon launch of the PS4, with Infamous: Second Son being released early in 2014.
Sony showed off their hardware with a gorgeous demo of The Dark Sorcerer by Quantic Dream. The video showed a character with an array of emotions, things that previous consoles could not capture. Showing characters that were incredibly lifelike should sell gamers on the console's graphics ability.
Sony also reconfirmed its commitment to indie game developers. Announcing partnerships with titles like The Witness, Don't Starve, OctoDad, Outlast, The Witness and a remake of OddWorld, the company also publicly announced that independent game developers will also be able to self-publish on the PlayStation Network in order "to continue to lead the console space as the most open and inclusive platform for developers."
What many in the crowd were waiting for, though, was news of Final Fantasy Versus XIII, but Square Enix had a surprise for us. The title has been re-dubbed as Final Fantasy XIV and the trailer took the audience's breath away. That game will be available for both the PS3 and PS4. But Square Enix didn't stop there. Square Enix also threw in a trailer for Kingdom Hearts 3. Many fan boys and girls across the world were heard to be squealing in delight.
Sony offered a sneak peek of gameplay for Assassins Creed: Black Flag. Is he a pirate or is he an assassin? Or maybe he's both. Unfortunately, there was a little bit of lag and a crash during gameplay, so it seems the PS4 still needs a few minor tweaks and adjustments.
The new (and previously leaked) Watch Dogs trailer also arrived. Although it's not an exclusive title, Sony assures us that it will be better on the PS4 - an additional hour of gameplay will be exclusive to PS4 owners.
NBA 2K was briefly announced, but Sony was most excited to show The Elder Scrolls Online on the PS4. So get ready to stock up on potatoes, weapons and prepare to take many more arrows to the knee. There was also a trailer for a Mad Max game.
Finally, Sony ended their conference with some gameplay of Destiny.
Entertainment and Media Services
Capitalizing on being a part of Sony Divisions, the PlayStation 4 is striving to offer media services that are relevant and meaningful. But they are taking that idea one step further: they will be curating content specifically for gamers, including original programming. And as mentioned above, these media services will be free to all PS4 owners.
The PlayStation 4 will also be bringing Sony's Video Unlimited and Music Unlimited into households. They have also announced a partnership with both Flixter and Redbox Instant. Finally, pay per view events will be coming to the PS4.
Sony confirmed that PlayStation Plus will be expanding and confirmed that existing Plus memberships would transfer over to the PS4.