E3: Thoughts on Sony’s Briefing

88092026KD054_E3_GAMING_CONIn the wake of a massive PSP Go leak the weekend before E3, could Sony still deliver surprises at its press conference? That’s the question everyone was asking as we filed into the Shrine Auditorium for Sony’s PSP and PS3 showcase. With Microsoft delivering the Beatles, Steven Spielberg, and a fancy new camera technology, Sony had its work cut out for it.  Good thing it had some of the best looking games at E3.

Here are my notes on the briefing:

STAGECRAFT: With a gigantic 40×80 foot screen, Sony had the biggest and longest press conference at E3. (Sony briefings always seem to run the longest at E3).  While there was lots of content to fill the time, it was hard to keep up the momentum for two straight hours.

MASTER OF CEREMONIES: “Thank god you guys showed up.” You’ve got to hand it to SCEA CEO Jack Tretton for his off-the-cut remarks to break the ice at the briefing. Out of all the press conferences, Tretton was the only executive confident enough to go off-prompter and talk to the crowd.

BIGGEST MISS: The third party montage videos of PS3 and PSP games. Here’s my question: Which games were rejected? You know when Disney’s G-Force makes the 5-minute reel someone needs to re-examine the length. Why not run these as “coming attractions” before the briefing begins?

FIRST PARTY POWERHOUSE: With live demos of Uncharted 2 and God of War 3, Sony unquestionably had the best and strongest first party software lineup at E3. It was so good big-ticket games that Heavy Rain and Ratchet & Clank didn’t even make it into the press conference.

THE SONY DRINKING GAME: There’s one thing you can always count on from Sony: Mentions of a ten year product life cycle and starting an E3 briefing with talk of the PS2. This year was no exception. Let’s hope 2010 (the system’s 10th anniversary) is the year the PS2 talk can finally be retired.

MOST NOTABLE OMISSION: PSN improvements. Microsoft (Facebook/Twitter) and Nintendo (Facebook) announced new online functionality at E3, but Sony had nothing to say on social networking or new PSN features.

BEST LINE: “So there’s one that didn’t leak out, huh?” — Jack Tretton, after revealing the Final Fantasy XIV trailer.

BEST ON-STAGE DEMOS: Uncharted 2 and God of War. They weren’t only the best live demos at Sony’s press conference, they were the best demos at any of the briefings.

BEST KEPT SECRETS: Despite other leaks, Sony had three solid surprises no one saw coming: Final Fantasy XIV as a PS3 exclusive, Rockstar’s Agent as a PS3 exclusive, and the “Play Create Share” kart racer ModNation Racers.

WORST KEPT SECRET: PSP Go, of course. The only things we didn’t know were the price ($249) and launch date (Oct 1).

ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM: A price drop for the PlayStation 3. Even though the content looks great, the fact remains that the PS3 is still $399 — more expensive than the PS2 at launch. Without a price reduction, will it matter how great the games look and play?

CONTROLLER WITH NO NAME: Sony rolled out EyeToy inventor Richard Marks to show off his new “magic wand” controller technology with sub-millimeter accuracy.  We got a release date (Spring 2010) but the lack of a name or developer endorsements / real game demos made it hard for Sony to compete with Microsoft’s Natal demo.

M.I.A. AWARD: We didn’t hear anything from Sony’s European studios, or at least what’s left of them. While HEAVY RAIN was at E3, it wasn’t in the briefing. And what abotu EyePet?  That would have been the perfect demo to show a “controller free” experience coming from Sony. (Apparently it was shown behind closed doors to some media).

13 Responses to “E3: Thoughts on Sony’s Briefing”

  1. Marie Says:

    Haha actually that leaked to days before the announcement Tretton messed that up as well.


    And even then SE doesn’t even want to really say it’s an exclusive at this point. Meh on the big surprise.

  2. Marie Says:

    Also you can throw that $249 PSP Go price in with the elephant in the room as well.

  3. brew Says:

    Elephant in the room – “Without a price reduction, will it matter how great the games look and play?”

    Pretty ridiculous thing to say (or ask) , it doesn’t make any sense. You know millions have already bought the console , you know more are going to pick it up , and they’ll drop when they can. The games are going to be enjoyed with or without a ps3 price reduction at E3.

  4. LevelHead Says:

    I’m wondering where the rumors of 3D gaming is going to emerge. That was a big omission along with actual gameplay for Gran Turismo 5.

    It was a good show but pretty predictable.

  5. The_Icon Says:

    I agree, they should have detailed a major PS3 firmware update, even if its way off.

  6. Oibaffus Says:

    Hi Geoff,

    you forgot the GamesCom in Cologne, where Sony will probably show what the European Studios are working on (EyePet inclusive) ;)

  7. Segitz Says:

    Well… why implement Twitter or Facebook if you have a REAL internet browser? The PS3 essentially already had all those features since “day one” (although the browser didn’t really work in the beginning^^).

    And I guess, the SCEE games will be shown at GC Germany. My guess is also, that they’ll announced GT5 there (might be TGS, but GC seems more probable to me).

  8. Adam Says:

    I think Sony is saving their SCEE games for GamesCon, but most of the EU (well they are all in the UK) studios are just working on PSP games, or DLC apart from SCE London who are working on EyePet, but that is a gamescon title

    The big question is why was there not more Gran Turismo, apparently a Sony PR man was saying that they are aiming for a 2009 release… well why did they not say that at the Press Conference. My guess is that they are waiting for TGS for a few things

    I am quite surprised that so many people were expecting a price cut. It is not a great idea to make one in the Summer, and I think we will see a price cut in August, followed by the introduction of a slim at TGS with GT 5 release announced

  9. asyouburn Says:

    geoff says sony didnt have real games to show with the motion controller, but i thought they showed more gameplay with the RTS demo and sword and shield demo than microsoft with the “soccer balls” and Milo. the only reason i thought it was a better controller than Natal was Sony showed how it can be used right now in games instead of “this is how games WILL be in the future”

  10. Jeff Says:

    Jack Tretton is a fantastic speaker. I’m not a huge fan of Sony products, but I have to give him credit when it’s due. He really does capture your attention.

    I was also sorry we didn’t get to see more of Heavy Rain. But, I suppose it’s hard to really show that game in the brief amount of time they’re allotted.

  11. Johnno Says:

    Sony’s conference was very enjoyable. Could have been paced better and Yama’s talking about GT Mobile instead of showing it went on too long… It is a good idea that they ought to loop some games in montages before the actual start while everyone’s still getting to their seats and stuff. Anyway I don’t mind the montages, it’s probably the best way to show their huge lineup of games quickly without wasting too much time on them. I can’t think of a better way. The non existence of anything PSN related was disappointing. I was looking forward to them possibly expanding their video service to other places, maybe even vidzone for countries outside of Europe and with the whole positioning of the PSP GO against the iPod/iPhone, they should seriously have a music store added to PSN. I was also looking forward to more major updates for HOME, new spaces and trophy implementation and other things… Also I didn’t like how the GOW3 demo was abruptly interrupted and the show ended, felt like kind of an awkward finish.

  12. Gustavo Says:

    I Think Sony’s press conference is the longest because they show content for PS2, PS3 and PSP.
    We are complaining about the lack of SCEE representation, yet the press conference went on for 2 hours.

    They couldn’t show everything in there.

    And i agree with someone here that the PS3 already have a facebook, twiter, orkut, myspace, youtube, amazon.com etc. It came with a internet browser, allowing everyone who owns a PS3 to have access to this services. So well, what could we expect? I just think they missed the opportunity to explain that.

  13. Aaron Miller Says:

    Though I was more impressed by Natal, Sony excited me more with their motion controller demonstration of fantasy combat. If they make that into an adventure game, many people will buy a PS3 – whatever the cost – just for that. And I’m not talking about just regular gamers. People who haven’t played games in years will buy a PS3 for gameplay like that. It was an excellent demo.

    MAG was surprisingly droll. I was expecting to see an epic battle, but the massive number of players was split up so much in the demo that it didn’t look very different from Frontlines. I’m not dissing the game, but the demo was perhaps a poor choice.

    Heavy Rain doesn’t impress me. The graphics are great, but the quick-time gameplay does nothing to engage the player. It has the player focusing on an abstract whack-a-mole mini-game instead of on the characters and story. But many gamers might not realize or care what a missed opportunity that is.

    Yes, I have the same complaint about the God of War series, but GoW3 and Uncharted 2 looked great.

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