It’s pretty obvious that Sony adores GamesCom. The mid-August timing of the show appears to play right into the platform holder’s plans, allowing it to cast the spotlight on its holiday campaign much more assuredly than at E3 earlier in the year. Previous announcements that have taken place at the German tradeshow include the unveiling of the PlayStation 3 Slim; a hardware revision that not only dramatically transformed the system’s image, but also its fortunes in the market place. While this year’s event is unlikely to match the remarkable rebranding efforts of 2009, you can bet that the Japanese giant will want to leave a lasting impression in its most successful territory.
It’s interesting that, while Sony lines up an impressive array of content for the show, its competitors will be absent. Both Microsoft and Nintendo have confirmed that they will not be making an appearance at the event – a curious announcement considering the latter is on the verge of launching a brand new platform. Of course, both the Xbox 360 and Wii U will be in attendance at the show courtesy of third-party booths – but the lack of any official presence leaves Sony in the profound position of being able to consume the event’s headlines for itself.
The strongest rumour surrounding the show pertains to the announcement of the PS3’s third hardware refresh. Images of the supposed Super Slim leaked online earlier in the year, prompting speculation of a GamesCom reveal. Indeed, it would certainly seem appropriate considering the aforementioned Slim’s announcement in 2009.
Recent speculation, however, has hinted that, while the device was originally planned for a GamesCom reveal, Sony’s been forced to rethink its strategy due to a higher than expected inventory of existing consoles. In truth, we’d be surprised if the platform holder didn’t push ahead with the reveal next week regardless. As with the previous Slim, the timing simply makes sense.
After all, Sony will be looking towards the hardware revision to kickstart its holiday onslaught – and with the PS3 set to enjoy its most mainstream year yet, the company will be hoping to extend the platform’s accessibility by lowering its price. A sub-$200 RRP seems all but guaranteed in North America – with a potentially lower price tag possible if the 16GB SKU turns out to be true. It certainly sounds like an enticing proposition for the throngs of casual players destined to be wooed by J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter spin-off Wonderbook: Book of Spells, later this year.
Speaking of which, the augmented reality storybook is certain to play a big part in Sony’s GamesCom plans. Regardless of your opinion on the peripheral, it’s clear that Sony’s concocted a casual product capable of capturing the imagination of the mainstream market for the first time in years – and thus it would be idiotic to assume that the publisher’s just going to gloss over the accessory at Europe’s biggest tradeshow. We already know that Moonbot Studios’ Wonderbook: Diggs Nightcrawler is set to debut during the event, but it wouldn’t be entirely surprising to see other supported titles announced, too.
Regardless, Wonderbook won’t be the only PlayStation Move compatible content on display. Sony’s schedule confirms that a new motion controlled title will be revealed at the show, and recent trademark registrations point to the overdue announcement of Until Dawn. The Move powered survival horror game has been at the forefront of PlayStation speculation for several years now; a fascination which can be tracked all the way back to GamesCom 2009 when the title appeared in a motion controlled demo reel. Despite confirmation of the title’s continued development from Sony Worldwide Studios president Shuhei Yoshida, many had given up hope on the game ever releasing. But, it looks like we’ll get our first proper look at the under-wraps adventure during Sony’s press conference next week.
Ironically, the motion controlled exclusive could end up being the grittiest game in Sony’s holiday offering this year. With the company focusing its attention on the likes of LittleBigPlanet Karting and Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time, the horror title could be about to emphatically eschew the casual complaints so commonly associated with motion controlled content these days. We’re secretly hoping that it expands upon the formula established by the excellent Silent Hill: Shattered Memories on Nintendo Wii.
Of course, considering the reaction to Sony’s controversial E3 press conference, all eyes will be on the PlayStation Vita during GamesCom. It would be naive to expect the platform holder to come out and announce a string of new handheld titles, but it’s unlikely that the publisher will exit the event without revealing something new.
Sony’s schedule confirms that a new Japan Studio title is set to be revealed during the show and, while nothing’s been confirmed, we’d be surprised if it wasn’t for the struggling handheld. A recent trademark registration for a game named Rain could be connected to the mysterious exclusive, but specific details are unsurprisingly scarce.
Elsewhere, Sony’s likely to focus on the strength of the handheld’s holiday line-up. Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation is certain to have a big presence, but Call of Duty: Black Ops Declassified has the potential to steal the show. Never has a third-party title been so important to a platform’s prospects, and it’s paramount that the first-person spin-off makes a positive initial impression.
Cost still remains an issue for Vita, but it’s unlikely that Sony will drop the price this early. Instead, the company will probably promote new bundles, adding value to the existing package rather than lowering the actual entry point. For example, it’s hard to imagine the system shipping without a 4GB memory card from now on.
Elsewhere, the European focus of the show is certain to usher a handful of new service announcements. Like the Xbox 360, the PS3 has evolved into an entertainment hub – and more content packages are always welcome. It’d be nice to see more television catch-up services added to the XMB, including Channel 5 and perhaps Sky.
But throughout, it’s best to keep your expectations in check. It’s always dangerous to go into these events anticipating too much, and coming away disappointed as a result. If it actually makes it, the PS3 hardware revision will be the highlight of the show – but a couple of new software announcements are also guaranteed.
With your expectations adjusted accordingly, what are you hoping to see from PlayStation at GamesCom 2012? Let us know in the comments section below.