Sony E3 2008 Media Briefing
Covering the videogames industry isn't exactly the world's most difficult task; gathering at the Shrine Auditorium to check out Sony's promise of future greatness alongside smoothies and canapes on a beautiful day in LA hardly counting as a grueling assignment. That said, having attended Microsoft and Nintendo's briefings previously, it was always going to be tough for Sony to steal the limelight.
Still, the message from US chief Jack Tretton was hardly revolutionary. Once again we were treated to admissions that the console had suffered a difficult start; that Sony were recognising and addressing their previous shortcomings; and that things are improving all the time, while 2008 should become "the year of the PS3".
Tretton kicks-off proceedings with a morale boosting speech about the gradual but ever-increasing growth in PS3 sales - noting that the PS1 and PS2 before it also started out gently.
The PS3 is part of a "10 year vision", we're told, and while the system's media hub credentials are impeccable following the victory for Blu-ray, this year will be dedicated to games. "More than 75" exclusive titles are in the works, more than any other console apparently, Tretton then swinging the spotlight onto Ted Price from Insomniac; in town to show off Resistance 2. We're treated to a sequence in which the game's anti-hero dukes it out across the rooftops of Chicago with a leviathan-like beast; the scale of the city and the monster being more than a little impressive.
Resistance 2 is certainly looking very slick, the title awash with 1950's detailing, genuinely scary foes and sweeping environments. Halo killer material? That's a big ask.
Jack Tretton then sidled back on to the stage, while the video wall was taken over by LittleBigPlanet's own sack boy; here to help Tretton liven up the financial-business part of the talk. LBP really is looking stunning; the textures and environmental detailing offering perhaps the most unique videogame look in years, while the physics also appears to be a cut-above any previous release. "Play, create, share" is the motto, Media Molecule's Alex Evans guiding sack boy through a stat-filled Sony 'business' world, hyping up the company's success while ably demonstrating the immense potential of the user-generated content title.
Tretton, meanwhile, tells us that the PS3 has so far sold 1.8 million units in the USA alone, while Latin America is now a new focus for the platform holder.
A Greatest Hits line of budget titles was confirmed for North America by Tretton, who reveals that games like Call of Duty 4, Resistance and MotorStorm will now be available for 29.99 USD stateside.
Moving away from the PS3 for a few moments, we learn that Buzz is heading to PSP, while new content will debut on the PS3, too. Sony haven't given up on the PS2 either, announcing a new festive bundle including Lego: Batman and the animated flick Justice League: New Frontier.
Still with Tretton, we now find ourselves moving merrily along to the PlayStation Network. All PSN accounts are set to be unified under a single log-in, enabling even PC users without PS3 access to sign-up. Sony confirm that such moves are part of their social networking drive, empowering users with new photo and video sharing capabilities. Players will also be able to download video content - but more on that later.
The PSN will also be enhanced via new exclusive content, Ratchet & Clank Future: Quest for Booty, a download-only fresh episode in the neo-platform series that Sony clearly hope can bolster their online credentials. The title will be out in the late summer, joined by Ragdoll Kung Fu: Fists of Plastic; Gran Turismo TV also looming on the horizon (August 1st, in fact).
At this point in the talk, we were of course starting to wonder where the juicy news was - concern rising that Tretton's 'good stuff to come in the future' motif might have been literal. Thank god, then, that the boss then announced a fully PSP compatible PlayStation Network movie store - open for business as of today - boasting content from Sony Pictures, Fox, MGM, Lionsgate, Warner, Disney and Paramount. HiDef and Standard content is on offer, covering both TV and movie downloads; prices starting from 1.99 USD.
The PSP remains a priority, Sony assure next, revealing a new R&C Size Matters bundle for 199 USD, before promising plenty of cross compatibility in the future - between the handheld, the PSP and PSN.
Comic legend Jim Lee took to the stage next, talking about DC Universe Online, the new MMO title being created for PS3 alongside Sony Online Entertainment. Lee says this is the product he's been working towards his whole life, SOE promising big things of this new superhero title.
Tretton returned to the stage delivering perhaps Sony's most significant news of the day. Namely that the 40GB PS3 SKU is on the way out - the 80GB system being cut to the same price from September - 399 USD stateside.
More excitement from Lord Tretton of Sonyland followed, the big boss confirming the existence of God of War 3 on PS3; the news generating perhaps the day's biggest applause. The briefing concluded with word on MAG, a new Zipper-developed online shooter, which promises to support 256 players, competing in vast persistent battles with multiple fronts. The action title will apparently be based on squad-based gunplay; Sony admitting that the title even pushes the PS3's might innards.
A good day for Sony? Well, the revelations we were offered made quite an impact, although there was nothing to suggest Sony have their fightback underway en masse. That said, this was a solid showing, and providing Tretton's promises of future brilliance prove accurate, then Sony can view this year's E3 as just a small stepping-stone on the road to recovery.