E3 2013: What Sony got right
Well there we go. After a day of press conferences everyone’s clips are empty, the powder is well and truly wet, and the landscape of next-generation gaming is a whole lot clearer. And the overwhelming reaction from those in attendance in Los Angeles? Sony are very much in pole position.
Sony PS4 E3 2013 reaction
The day opened with a strong, game-only showing from Microsoft which went some way to repairing the damage done at their reveal event. But the buzz and anticipation throughout was regarding what Sony had hidden up its glowing blue sleeve, and after nearly two hours presenting the company wares there was not a disappointed soul to be found. Some of the reasons hark back to the PS4 reveal event in February, but the true bombshells came at last night’s event. Starting with:
Let them trade games
This was by far the biggest cheer of the night and – by my reckoning – the whole of E3 so far. And while the assembled crowds at these events do have a tendency to whoop and holler at the merest sight of a loading bar, the extent of the ovation and the “Sony, Sony!” chants that went up spoke volumes about just how important this was seen to be.
So directly were the issues addressed that Jack Tretton almost seemed to be trolling Microsoft. ‘PS4 supports used games’ was the first message splashed on screen, followed by Tretton stating “When a gamer buys a PS4 disc, they have the rights to use that copy of the game. They can trade-in the game at retail, sell it to another person, lend it to a friend, or keep it forever.” And the XBoneing didn’t stop there: “In addition, PlayStation 4 disc-based games don’t need to be connected online to play… PS4 won’t require you to check-in online periodically, and it won’t stop working if you haven’t authenticated within 24 hours.” Subtle guys.
But this is undeniably huge news – the biggest issue of contention in the gaming world over the past fortnight has been Microsoft’s perplexing stance over used games, and here Sony came out with the perfect answer: it works like it does now. No restrictions, no complications, no problems. It was a simple, bold and clear statement, and it totally shifted the mood of the conference.
It’s all about the money
And this was what sealed the deal in terms of leaving people with the delicious taste of win in their mouths: $399/£349. A full hundred dollars or 80 pounds cheaper than the rival machine, and a staggeringly low price for the most powerful games console ever made. Talk in the build-up had been of differently priced SKUs ranging from the confirmed price right up to the six hundred mark, but once again Sony presented us with an answer to a big question that was straightforward and massively crowd-pleasing.
This is what has encapsulated Sony’s approach to next-gen, and why it has won over so many. Lessons have been learned from the past, and the company is resisting over-complicating anything. The machine won’t launch massively behind Microsoft’s offering as PS3 did (although we saw no advance on that ‘Holiday 2013’ release window, other than a confirmation that it applies to both the USA and Europe), and it’ll actually be cheaper than most people dared to hope. And this, ultimately, is what matters right now. The software will come in time, but getting the install base taken care of and garnering the good will of the gaming community is top priority, and Sony has done an almost perfect job in those regards thus far.
Let’s hear it for the little guy
Sony’s approach to indie gaming was one of the biggest positives to come out of the PS4 reveal event, and again has been a stick used to beat Microsoft with over the past few weeks. And this advantage was hammered home with the announcement of a number of arthouse titles from some of the most exciting indie devs around. Jonathan Blow’s The Witness was once again mentioned, but in addition there were nine more titles added to the line-up. Supergiant Games, creators of the brilliant Bastion, are bringing their next game Transistor to PS4, and it looks like another treat. And there was much more to come. The acclaimed Don’t Starve is on its way, along with old-school side-scrolling, four-player action title Mercenary Kings. There’s spaghetti Western Secret Ponchos, zombie stealth-puzzler Ray’s The Dead, and first-person survival horror tittle Outlast.
We’ve also got New ‘n’ Tasty, a remake of the original Oddworld game Abe’s Oddysee, 16-bit space shooter Galak-Z: The Dimensional, and the utterly bizarre but equally brilliant looking Octodad: Dadliest Catch, in which you flop around as the titular cephalopod trying not to break things or attract too much attention to your jelly-limbed destruction.
In addition to all the quirky software the ability for creators to self-publish games was reinforced, and this was another boon for Sony’s new console. It’s selection of indie titles has been getting stronger and stronger over recent months, and both the announced titles and lowered barriers to entry suggest that PS4 will be the home of indie gaming when it comes to next-generation consoles.