Round Table - What We Expect From Sony At E3
Posted by Thomas Whitehead
Time to bring it
So E3 is almost upon us. The LA extravaganza will no doubt bring all of the hype and big reveals that we’ve come to expect over the years, but what will we see from Sony? We’d expect a big push for Vita to kick-start the system, while PS3 still has plenty to offer. Sony has also stated it won’t be unveiling PS4, but will it tease the system in any way?
All mysteries at the moment, but some members of the Push Square team decided to get together and chat about all things Sony at E3. Joining features editor Thomas Whitehead are editor James Newton, associate editor Sammy Barker, assistant editor Mike Mason and writer Christopher Ingram.
Thomas Whitehead: First up, please introduce yourselves to the readers.
James Newton: Hello! My name's James Newton and I'm editor at Push Square. I like gaming and walks in the sunshine.
Mike Mason: I'm Mike Mason, assistant editor on Push Square. I am a SingStar.
Sammy Barker: Hey everyone. I'm Sammy, associate editor at Push Square. I have nothing else to add.
Christopher Ingram: Hi guys, I’m Chris and I’m one of the US reviewers here at Push Square.
Thomas Whitehead: In no more than three words, just how excited are you about Sony at E3?
James Newton: Really quite excited.
Sammy Barker: Reasonably excited. Ish.
Mike Mason: Somewhat excited.
Christopher Ingram: Really excited dood!
Thomas Whitehead: Looking at it seriously, do you think Sony is under pressure at this E3, or in a reasonably solid position?
Christopher Ingram: I think it’s in a pretty good situation at the moment: PS3 continues to sell well and Vita has only just released. Of course, Sony’s financial situation isn’t anywhere near as optimistic at the moment.
Sammy Barker: I feel like the platform holders are always under pressure going into these events. From a hardcore perspective, so much resides on these big press conferences.
Mike Mason: I think things are looking pretty good from a PlayStation 3 point of view, but the ground is looking a bit shakier when it comes to Vita.
Sammy Barker: I agree Mike, they really need to sell it this year.
James Newton: I think Sony's been brave but smart in revealing God of War: Ascension and PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale ahead of E3 - that clears the way for Gran Turismo Vita, am I right guys?!
Mike Mason: How many years is this one going to be in the making?
James Newton: One million.
Thomas Whitehead: Following on from that. With the modest progress of Vita so far, what does Sony need to do at E3 to boost the system?
Sammy Barker: Games.
Mike Mason: Games. Tasty, tasty games. It really needs to secure some exclusives and show us why it's worth a purchase as a handheld, rather than push the 'portable home console' idea.
Christopher Ingram: Not just games, but the right games. Yes Call of Duty will greatly increase sales, as well as Resistance: Burning Skies and Gravity Rush, but what I think Vita needs more than anything is what’s been so instrumental to Sony’s success since the PSone era: exclusive JRPG’s.
James Newton: You know, I wouldn't be surprised if it re-emphasised what it believes makes Vita such a great proposition - that big screen, twin sticks, online functionality and so on.
Sammy Barker: Exactly — and cross platform play too. I genuinely believe we're going to see them challenge the Wii U. I honestly think Sony can get away with announcing one big blockbuster after another. I don't think we'll get a price-cut yet personally.
James Newton: Cross platform could be a PR nightmare! Nintendo reveals Wii U last year, Sony apes it this year?
Sammy Barker: Well, they already showed something similar at TGS, and CCP is really teasing Vita controller support for DUST 514. I think they'll show it on stage.
James Newton: Yeah, but Vita as PS3 controller isn't what's missing — it needs GAMES.
Mike Mason: Well, Sony will probably try...but let's face it, it's not going to take off in a way that threatens Nintendo simply because PS3 and Vita don't come together in a box.
Sammy Barker: That's true Mike. And I agree, new releases should be the big focus.
Mike Mason: If it ain't standard, developers ain't going to develop for it in their masses.
Thomas Whitehead: So are you unanimous that there won't be a price drop? Is that a mistake? It's not exactly flying off the shelves, anywhere.
James Newton: I think announcing a price drop at E3 sends out the wrong message.
Mike Mason: I don't think a price drop as such, but we've seen something similar in the past few days. Bundles.
Christopher Ingram: Yep. I’d say that I’m about 90% positive that it won’t happen. Sony can’t afford to take any loss on system sales at the moment. But the trick that Sony needed it just pulled out of its hat: bundles. Getting a game and 4GB memory card alleviates the steep additional cost above and beyond the initial Vita purchase. This is nothing short of a typical Sony strategy: get as much money as possible from the loyal early adopters, and then start pulling in the masses that are holding out on a good deal with bundled/additional content.
Sammy Barker: Agreed. I don't think there'll be a price-drop, I think they'll rely on bundles instead. That 4GB card is going to be in every box from now on, I reckon.
Indie gaming is becoming a big deal really quickly and the smaller titles — yes, the ones like Tales from Space: Mutant Blobs Attack that so many people are overlooking — are some of the best games currently on the PlayStation platforms.
James Newton: I would agree. Really should have been that way from the start, shouldn't it?
Mike Mason: It's a way to give better value to the system without losing face on the price point. With the way my memory card filled up, 4GB at minimum should've been in the box...
Thomas Whitehead: Vita has made some waves with inexpensive downloads, is that maybe something they'll push hard on?
Sammy Barker: Perhaps not at the press conference, but hopefully we'll see a little more of Suite during the show itself and what that means going forward.
Mike Mason: Maybe some titles that have been created with the PS Suite, yeah, that'd be interesting to see. Try to boost interest on that front.
Christopher Ingram: Let’s hope so! Indie gaming is becoming a big deal really quickly and the smaller titles – yes, the ones like Tales from Space: Mutant Blobs Attack that so many people are overlooking — are some of the best games currently on the PlayStation platforms.
Thomas Whitehead: Pre-E3, is Sony doing enough to build up Vita. I haven't seen much hype about Resistance, personally.
James Newton: It's doing OK, there are some ad campaigns running at the moment.
Sammy Barker: They had banners all around the Champions League final, but SCEE is a main sponsor.
James Newton: But changing that perception that it has no games is like turning around an oil tanker — it'll take some time. Like Sammy said recently, it took years to conquer that same perception for PS3
Sammy Barker: Yeah, unfortunately, they have to do it all over again. But the announcements are starting to trickle out at the moment.
James Newton: But if they did it once, right..?
Sammy Barker: Exactly, as soon as the catalogue grows, people will forget. And it will grow.
Christopher Ingram: I agree with that. I actually think Sony is playing a smart strategy with Vita at the moment. Yeah, believe it or not, I did just say that. Over-enthusiastic journalists are always looking to the next big news break, and often overlook the here and now. We’re days away from Resistance: Burning Skies landing on store shelves. If it starts dropping the big Vita release bombs now before E3, it’ll risk these journalists completely overshadowing Resistance’s release to the breaking news of what’s going to happen a week down the road at E3. I’m certain that isn’t something Sony wants to happen.
Mike Mason: I think we'll see a majority focus on Vita for this E3. PS3 can afford to go on the backburner a little.
Sammy Barker: I agree Mike.
Thomas Whitehead: With that in mind, moving on to home consoles. Sony says that its next console won't make an appearance this year: is that an issue or is Sony right to continue with PS3?
Sammy Barker: I think it's the right decision. There's still some big titles in development for PS3.
Mike Mason: I really like how PS3 is being treated. You wouldn't even think another home console was being planned right now — although of course we know it is. It feels like it's in the middle of its lifespan, still getting a great stream of games.
Christopher Ingram: The same applies here as with Vita. If Sony drops the PS4 bomb, then PS3 and PS Vita become old news in this day and age. I just don’t think this is a risk it’ll be willing to take. Nintendo’s premature Wii U presentation at E3 last year didn’t bode well for it, and I’m sure Sony has noticed. With that said, I’m really looking forward to seeing Nintendo’s Wii U in action!
Thomas Whitehead: Do you think there'll be a cheeky teaser, just to show it's being worked on?
Sammy Barker: It's possible, but I don't think so.
James Newton: Nope, I don't even think Sony will acknowledge it, personally. It'll say "we already have a HD console with great online connectivity and big upcoming games - we don't need another platform yet".
Mike Mason: It depends what Microsoft does. I'm leaning towards no; if I were Sony, with financial issues, I'd want the focus to be on the present and what's being done to turn the company around now, not next year.
Christopher Ingram: I hope not. Anybody with half a brain should know that it’s coming at some point in the next couple of years.
Thomas Whitehead: I ask because I'm getting the vibe Microsoft may tease, if not actually unveil something new. Sony says it doesn't want to be late again, so is that a concern at all? And are the poor financials perhaps a problem, in that respect, in terms of developing and launching PS4 in a good timeline?
Sammy Barker: I think it's almost ready behind closed doors, I just don't think Sony is going to show it yet.
James Newton: Sony has big financial problems, not just from PlayStation, and considering it lost money on every PS3 sold I don't think it'll be in a rush to replace it any time soon. Like Mike says, PS3 is really going steady at the moment and doing well; Sony will want to celebrate that.
Mike Mason: I don't think there'll be a problem with a PS4 being late to the generation anyhow. It's probably nearing completion on the project, but there's simply no need to take PS3's legs out just yet, and Vita doesn't need the self-competition.