In 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).