In 2009 it used the European show to reveal the PlayStation 3 Slim. And last year it made some huge software announcements: Virtua Tennis 4, Resistance 3 and Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One all got their debuts at the German event. But what can we expect from this year's show?
Plenty of PlayStation Vita is almost certainly the safest bet. Sony's using its slick new handheld as the poster-child for its press conference, and so we're expecting the platform holder to dedicate a good half-an-hour if not more to the new device. While details on European services — 3G partners for example — are a given, we wouldn't be surprised if Sony used Gamescom to give a full worldwide release schedule. We already know the device is coming this year in Japan with Europe and North America set to follow in "early 2012", but it would be nice to get something a bit more concrete. It's a long-shot but worth a punt.
New PlayStation Vita software is also likely. Sony used E3 to reveal its full range of first-party software, but now it feels like the appropriate time to announce some third-party software too. We know it's in development — publishers such as Capcom and SEGA have already teased multiple projects — so it's about time we got a glimpse of what developers outside of Sony are cooking. In addition, we wouldn't be surprised to see new footage of Uncharted: Golden Abyss, Wipeout 2048 and Little Deviants.
For PlayStation Vita, GamesCom is going to be all about maintaining enthusiasm. With the device still some months away, Sony will probably use the event to instill another wave of excitement in the fans and media, and it will do that by showing compelling software. It would be ideal if the announced Vita software line-up doubled by the end of the show.
Elsewhere, it's probably going to be a quiet year for PlayStation 3. New media services across Europe are a certainty. It also wouldn't be much of a surprise if Sony announced and demonstrated Vita's LiveArea social network features on PS3.
But like 2009, GamesCom seems like the appropriate venue for a fresh PlayStation 3 price-cut. While the platform continues to have worldwide momentum, a $50 price-cut would definitely drive sales going into the holiday season. It's also likely that SCEE will use GamesCom to debut its new marketing strategy, with the 'Game Is Just The Start' campaign looking like it's run its course. There's been some speculation of a $100 price-cut, and while that sounds ideal (bringing the PS3 down to the mainstream price-point of $199), it's probably unnecessary at this point.
Elsewhere on PlayStation 3, expect new footage of Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception, Resistance 3 and Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One. New 3D and PlayStation Move content is always possible, but is unlikely to represent a big focus of the presentation. Software announcements from French developers Quantic Dream and DONTNOD are likely to be the most eye-catching PlayStation 3 reveals.
DONTNOD confirmed earlier in the month that it is revealing its sci-fi action title at GamesCom next week, though there is some speculation about whether the product is Sony published or not anymore. It was believed that the studios' debut project had been signed up by SCEE last year, but there are rumours conflicting that now.
A reveal of Quantic Dream's new product seems like a safe bet though. Cage said earlier in the year that he was discussing an E3 reveal with Sony. That never came, but GamesCom feels like the perfect venue. Don't expect much more than a concept pitch and short teaser trailer, but that should be enough to set the message boards alight with conversation.
With just an hour to rattle through its announcements, Sony's GamesCom press conference is likely to be fairly low-key, but there's certain to be a nice surprise or two. What do you think the company's going to announce next week?
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