Sony had quite the act to follow after Nintendo’s showing. After all, Nintendo had new hardware to display, as well as a barrage of new game releases across three systems, covering such fan-favorites as Legend of Zelda, Donkey Kong, and Kirby. Did Sony’s motion offering Move the crowd? Was its demonstration as much of a fan service as Nintendo’s was?
The beginning of Sony’s presentation focused on 3D, and the claim was made that 20 games in 3D will be released by the end of the year. To showcase Sony’s 3D offering, titles such as Killzone 3, MotorStorm, and the Sly Cooper collection were demonstrated. Given that I was not at the presentation, I obviously cannot offer much as to whether PlayStation 3’s 3D felt like a success or not– the fine crew at Joystiq seemed to think that it didn’t quite live up to expectations.
Regardless, with Nintendo’s 3DS offering 3D sans the goofy glasses, how accepting will gamers– let alone standard consumers– be of wearing shades just for a 3D effect? Despite Sony’s claims that PS3 will do for 3D what it did for Blu-Ray, it really can’t be seen to happen like that. For someone to use PS3 as a Blu-Ray player doesn’t require a specific and more expensive television and goofy glasses– at this point, it can only be considered to be catering to a niche market.
Sony’s own attempt at motion control, Move, was also demonstrated with titles like Sorcery, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11, and Heroes on the Move. Sorcery is a title that maps Move to a magic wand, with different spells conjured by different movements. The title looks as if it has plenty of potential– as well as showing how a Harry Potter game could be handled– but on stage there were problems with Move’s responsiveness, an issue that certainly won’t convince skeptics of the controller. Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11 didn’t seem to offer any more than the Wii version, aside from better visuals.
Heroes on the Move, however, had a forceful grip on my attention. The title features Sony’s classic platforming mascots– Jak and Daxter, Sly Cooper, and Ratchet and Clank– all in one game. It’s like a Sony platform-gamer’s wet dream come true. All of the characters have done very well in their own titles, and to see them come together in such a way is too cool. If this game is successful, I wouldn’t be too surprised if these same characters star in a response from Sony to Super Smash Bros.
Move was announced to be $50, while the Navigation controller has the price point of $30. With these controllers being the counterparts to Nintendo’s Wii Remote and Nunchuck (respectively), they aren’t priced all too competitively. Not only that, but they also require the Eye to track movement, tacking on even more to the price of entry. That coupled with their iffy presentation and the fact that they aren’t even the primary controllers for PS3 doesn’t convince me that they’ll be Wii motion control killers.
From a hardware perspective, the conference was pretty lackluster, as it did nothing to convince me that Move will be the next great motion control system or that 3D is the next evolution in digital entertainment. The lack of an announcement regarding another PSP model– or even its successor– was also pretty surprising.
Everyone knows, though, that hardware doesn’t get the system purchased, but the games. And Sony certainly had tons of titles to show off. The aforementioned Heroes on the Move is huge, and Sorcery has potential to be a sleeper hit when it comes out in 2011. Entries in the Time Crisis, Twisted Metal, God of War and LittleBigPlanet franchises were also revealed.
Portal 2 and Gran Turismo 5 were also demonstrated and received a positive response. Like complaints that I’ve heard of Nintendo’s press conference, it seemed as if most of the games were entries in formerly established series– from my perspective, it’s a non-issue.
The original titles that Sony did demonstrate were anything but, however. Sport Champions seemed to be Sony’s answer to Wii Sports; EyePet, their answer to Nintendogs. Like Microsoft’s conference before it, little was done to convince gamers that Sony was not simply ripping-off what Nintendo has already done. Obviously, tons of support has been granted to Move, and it was good to see PS3 and PSP receive some love, but all in all, I think E3 2010 will go down as the E3 of franchises.
Sony’s premium subscription service, PlayStation Plus, was also announced. While PSN– their current online service– will remain free, PlayStation Plus offers exclusive content for $50 for a year-long subscription, or $18 for three months at a time. Its online strategy is slowly catching up to Microsoft’s, and eclipsing Nintendo’s lackluster offering.
While the hardware and software ends of the conference may not have stood out against Nintendo and Microsoft, Sony did have an ace up its sleeve, something that neither of their competitors had: Kevin Butler. Why Sony didn’t have this guy host the entire press conference escapes logic, as he was a real hit.
He made reference to the commercials that made him famous, offered deadpan humor when stealing the stage away from Peter Dille, and made digs at Microsoft’s press conference the day prior. His five-minute stint on stage was better than the entire rest of the conference, and was both hysterically funny and inspiring.
If he had hosted the entire presentation, Sony could have had a real winner of a conference. He absolutely killed it– anyone who proclaims, “We all serve one King, and his name is gaming. FOREVER MAY HE REIGN!” gets an ‘A’ in my book. Also, his PSP promotion counterpart Marcus– played by Bobb’e J. Thompson of “Role Models” fame– looks like another funny addition to Sony’s marketing.
When all was said and done, however, the entire conference was nothing stellar– by no means was it bad, just nothing really seemed to stand out. The rest of E3 may demonstrate that Sony has more to offer, but right now, it seems that its just copying Microsoft’s online plan and Nintendo’s approach to the casual market, leaving one to wonder what truly new stuff the company has in the works.