Sony Catches Up To Itself at E3 2008

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by Kyle Ackerman


Sony made its E3 presentation this year in the Shriner Auditorium in Los Angeles, a venue that has played host in the past to Microsoft and its Xbox 360-related announcements. On a stage literally dripping in flat-screen LCD televisions, Sony vaunted everything the PlayStation 3 does well – lots of style and spectacle. Led by Jack Tretton, President and Chief Executive Officer of Sony Computer Entertainment America, Sony presented (in Tretton's words) "A PlayStation brand that's really hitting its stride."

Tretton led the audience through a slew of new features on the PlayStation 3 that promise to make it an incredibly compelling platform, including movies, more downloadable games, and community features such as weather and news. It sounded, and it will be, great... but it would have been better if it had arrived when the PlayStation 3 launched, and not nearly two years later.

The PlayStation 3 wasn't the only focus of the event. Tretton was quick to point out that "We have what no other company has – three successful platforms in the market at once." That's true. Sony has the PlayStation 3, the PSP and the PlayStation 2. And in truth, the PlayStation 2 is still the most played and most widely owned (non-handheld) console out there. That said, the focus of the conference was still on the PlayStation 3 as the future of console gaming.


Tretton spent a lot of time talking about product cycles, his point being that the best of the PlayStation 3 is in the future. He's right about that, too. By analogy, he pointed out that two years into the life of both the PlayStation 2 and the original PlayStation, the big hits that we remember had yet to launch. Of course, that's true for every console... it takes a while for people to learn how to really exploit the strengths of a new platform. Now, the best of the PlayStation 3 is in the near future. Nearly everything Sony has promised arrives today, or very soon.

Animated Socks Get in on Business


When talking about all the great things coming to the PlayStation 3, Tretton spent a lot of time focusing on upcoming games that will carry the PlayStation 3 forward. Some were exciting retail titles like Resistance: Fall of Man 2, God of War III, inFamous and Massive Action Game (an online action game that will support battles with 256 players). Others were upcoming downloadable games like Ratchet & Clank Future: Quest for Booty that will be available shortly. Some were aimed at casual users, like the version of Buzz! The Mega Quiz that will come to the PlayStation 3. There were even massively multiplayer online games for the PlayStation 3, with comic book artist Jim Lee presenting DC Universe Online, a game where PC and PlayStation 3 owners alike will be able to play alongside famous superheroes.

But more than anything else, what impressed me concerning Sony's games was Tretton's business presentation. The entire presentation concerning sales and market share was made into a playable level for the upcoming game Little Big Planet. Little Big Planet has gotten a lot of attention, as a cute and customizable platformer that will embrace user-created content, having gamers create tons of levels ranging from cute to complex exercises in physics. That Little Big Planet could make dry business enthralling speaks to the strength of Sony's upcoming game line-up.

Old Games and Consoles Get Cheaper


80 GB PlayStation 3One of the greatest new things coming to the PlayStation 3 will be old games. Sony is launching a greatest-hits line for the PlayStation 3, so games like Resistance: Fall of Man, Warhawk and Motorstorm will be available for $30. Also, Sony will launch what it calls "Life With PlayStation" by the end of the month. This will include some of the functions Sony promised before the launch of the PlayStation 3 – the ability to check news feeds, weather and webcam feeds from around the world.

Of course Sony wants more people to pick up the PlayStation 3. As Tretton pointed out, it took more than two years for most owners of the original PlayStation to transition to the PlayStation 2. To help out, in September, Sony will start selling an 80 GB model of the PlayStation 3 for $400. The console will have the same functionality as the current 40 GB model, but with twice the storage.

The Other Consoles and PlayStation Network


Both the PlayStation 2 and PSP will get new games and bundles. Of course, the PSP will get more games of interest to hardcore gamers, like Resistance: Retribution (a PSP game set in the Resistance: Fall of Man storyline), as well as casual games like a Buzz! quiz game. The PlayStation 2 will get a bundle for the Lego Batman game, including the console, the game and an animated Justice League film for $149. The PSP will get a bundle that includes the game Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters, a PSP, a 1GB memory stick and a copy of National Treasure 2 on UMD for $199. As Tretton said, "The PSP is one of the keys to Sony owning the living room."

Movies in the PlayStation StoreTretton also talked a lot about the PlayStation Network. To help unify the Sony experience, Sony's customers will get a single sign-on starting this fall that will work for all games, from the PC to the PlayStation 3. And while PlayStation Home (the virtual environment for Sony's gamers) was downplayed, with Tretton promising that PlayStation 3 owners' patience will be rewarded, Sony is delivering on film delivery... today. Starting this evening, movies will be available for rental or purchase from the PlayStation Store. They will be viewable on the PlayStation 3 and can be uploaded to the PSP through either the PlayStation 3 or PC. Sony is finally grabbing at the pie that has been sitting on Microsoft's windowsill.

The PlayStation 2 is still running strong, the PSP is getting more games and movies, and the PlayStation 3 is getting nearly everything (except Home) that Sony promised long ago. Gaming on Sony's platforms is looking good, but it should have looked this good long ago.

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This page contains a single entry by Editor published on July 15, 2008 3:59 PM.

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