Reactions from Sony E3 ‘09 Press Conference

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To say that 2008 and the beginning of 2009 has been something of a rough time for Sony could be considered an understatement. Sony as a corporation posted its first revenue loss in 14 years and the Playstation 3, as well as the PSP, has been taking a beating from their competitors in the 360, Wii and DS.

This year, however, Sony hopes to remedy their woes with a slew of new titles and announcements at this year’s E3. Hit the jump to see how we think they did.

Games

Andrew: For the average gamer, this is the bread and butter of any press conference and I feel that Sony set out to show that average gamer why their system is the most diverse. While Microsoft spent most of its time talking about why they’re just now complete with the inclusion of titles Metal Gear Solid Rising, Sony spent its time both talking about why they already have been a complete platform and what they’re doing to make ripples in the gaming industry.

Now let it be known right off the bat that I own all three of today’s major systems, as well as a PSP and I have access to a DS Lite whenever I want. That being said, I feel that the sheer amount of games that Sony showed today was enough to make me excited for this year.

The show was set off into segments, first with the PSP, then to PSN and finally to PS3. Each of those segments had something that I really, really wanted to get my hands on. Being a die-hard Metal Gear fan, the idea of playing through the creation of Outer Heaven and controlling Big Boss again made me excited. For the PSN, while I was surprised there was no talk of Pixeljunk Shooter, I wanted to play ModNation Racers. And of course, God of War III and new title The Last Guardian made me excited for the exclusives Sony had to offer.

Oh and the live 256-player demo of MAG was ridiculously impressive.

Karen: As far as Sony goes, in the interest of the company, they played an impressive ball game. I echo a lot of Andrew’s sentiments, although Sony has always been an impressive diverse platform–since the days of PlayStation One with games like Ratchet and Clank and Gran Turismo. They needed no celebrities to amplify their game, with Hideo Kojima still playing favorites obviously with the inclusion of this new MGS game solely for the PSP. The trailer for that game completely blew my mind. For a kid whose brain explodes at the concept of going through new worlds, South America is a whole ‘nother territory that I am incredibly excited to play through with Big Boss.

They also hooked me in with the new game play for Assassin’s Creed II. Granted pictures have been out, but to see it in action definitely hyped me up. Also, having been a fervent admirer of Little Big Planet and Mario Kart, the creation of “ModNation Racers” is something I cannot wait to get my hands on. I really can’t wait for that. Just give me an awesome soundtrack and I am ready to build some new tracks to race on.

Overall, in terms of the amounts of new titles that were announced for Sony, it was a great way to get people to really connect with their PS3 and PSP–even if it was a little pricey. I loved the fact that they kept talking about the 10-year shelf life of their machines because it means they value the amount of money that their fans spend. Still, I wouldn’t mind getting my hands on a PSP Go.

Features and new announcements

Andrew: The things that Sony announced today as far as the hardware and services provided are concerned were pretty lackluster.

Jack Tretton, CEO and President of Sony, joked around that there were so many leaked announcements that he “was amazed anyone came” to the conference. Indeed, the new portable device from Sony called the PSP Go has already made its rounds through the internet and it was okay. I did like how they emphasized that every PSP game going forward will come in both download and UMD formats so both the PSP-3000 models (and lower) and the new PSP Go will be able to experience the same games, something Nintendo fans won’t be able to say about their DS Lites and DSis pretty soon. The PSP Go’s price point at $249.99 USD is a bit of a concern, however.

The announcement of new content partnerships with TV channels are usually the throw-away announcements during E3 and this year was no different. With the advent of Hulu and NBC online services being free on the internet, it boggles my mind why Sony and Microsoft bigwigs think the average consumer wants to pay for that same content.

And finally, throwing themselves into the fray known as motion controls, Sony showed off an early edition of their motion controller. While they boasted that the EyeToy was the first motion controller, every foray since by them, whether it’s the new iteration of the EyeToy or the SixAxis, has been mediocre. If the demo works as well as it did on the floor with nearly full 1:1 motion, that could be good.

Karen: Once again, it is very true that with large entertainment companies like Microsoft and Sony, they want to get their hands on everything. From TV to movies and video games, they want to be the entertainment center. However, as Andrew mentioned, the throw-away announcements are usually failed forays into other spheres of entertainment.

Thankfully, Sony did not waste their time on announcing connections to Last.Fm or Facebook (I blame that on the solitary attitude of the Japanese), but the inclusion of a new entertainment area to pay for downloadable content seemed laughable. It hasn’t worked for anyone in the media sphere, save for niche markets such as Rock Band downloads. (Editor’s note: LBP and SFIV not withstanding.) In addition, the PlayStation Home Network seemed a little too over the top, as a way to keep gamers in touch outside of the online content that other games have provided in years past.

However, it does bear repeating that Sony does value the money that its consumers spend, most notably with the creation of the PSP Go and the older models of the PSP. All current games will be recreated for both systems, and not even Nintendo could boast that. They seem to care, although I did pay for $249.99 USD when the first generation PSP came out.

To differ from Andrew, I did have a fair laugh at the Sony Motion Control announcement. It was cute and did seem to have better control than the Wii Motion Plus. Plus, I thought it was important to mention that they did have something important to show in terms of motion control–and didn’t explode people’s minds like Microsoft did. I’m a bit of a favoritist with Sony, and I thought it was a fair attempt at going into the next wave of video game technology. Better than Nintendo anyway.

Overall show

Andrew: Overall, the show was a success. While Microsoft’s show was all about showmanship and celebrities while dazzling you with high-octane trailers, Sony’s show was all about explaining why their system was awesome with the help of the people who make the games. Both styles are unique to the companies involved and that’s good for them.

I do feel that there were a couple things I wish I got to see. Why wasn’t there a teaser for David Jaffe’s new project (we all know it’s Twisted Metal)? What about more emphasis on the PSN exclusive games like aforementioned Pixeljunk Shooter or Fat Princess? Oh and…Hey, wait. WHERE WAS HEAVY RAIN?!?!

Strengths: Three part attack, MAG live demo, new MGS PSP game, GOD OF WAR III

Weaknesses: Felt like it ran on a bit too long, some boring segments concerning Playstation Home, their motion control scheme is still a long way away.

Overall grade: B+

Karen: In conclusion (apologies for making it sound like a paper), Sony provided stellar installments for a platform that is gaining ground as opposed to losing ground. They have maintained a positive point of view without becoming a little too pompous. It was important to note that Sony did not have to bring out the celebrities to get their point across. Sony is quietly confident, a great balance between the ostentatious Microsoft and the insecure Nintendo. They’ve made it this far because they’ve made wise choices and they’ve got fans in the dark depths of the video game sphere that even Microsoft and Nintendo can’t touch.

Honestly, I thought it was a little over the top to announce Final Fantasy XIV before even finishing Final Fantasy XIII, but they’re a little scared following the recession. Everyone is. But they’re playing it safe. And they know they’ve got great graphics, which is winning them fans. And integral amounts of creativity. I wish there was a little more from others, but I won’t say that I wasn’t wow-ed by a lot of the announcements.

Strengths: Placing value on platform versus technology, new MGS PSP game, LOADS OF NEW PSP GAMES, ModNation Racing, Sony Motion Control

Weaknesses: Useless Home network integration, multi-platform entertainment, too much time spent talking about a bajillion titles that we all know about

Overall grade: A-

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~ by Karen on June 2, 2009.

2 Responses to “Reactions from Sony E3 ‘09 Press Conference”

  1. Nice info, useful for me… thanks very much… 🙂

  2. Sony may be in survival mode. I don’t think they’re going to do much to in danger the financial viability of the company. As such, we are going to have to put up with overpriced items for quite some time

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