Feature: Sony's E3 2013 Showcase - Did It Meet Our Expectations?
Posted by Sammy Barker
Chewing over the PS4, PS3, and Vita's offerings
And in the blink of an eye, that’s E3 done and dusted. Much like any big annual event, the build-up to this year’s show far outweighed the actual proceedings, with the event long over before we could even utter the words ‘Digital Rights Management’. Still, the common reaction seems to suggest that this was a winning year for Sony and its family of platforms, but were we as impressed with the software and announcements on display? We’ve collated a gaggle of Push Square contributors to discuss the Japanese giant’s showing.
Anthony Dickens, Managing Director
Like most, I was waiting to see what games Microsoft revealed for the Xbox One at E3, but now that both companies have revealed all, I think that nearly all PlayStation fans can feel extremely happy about the PlayStation 4. It's abundantly clear that Sony has listened to its followers – and also developers – to create a simple but powerful machine that should start bearing lush, ripe fruit from day one.
In truth, Sony shouldn't be winning E3 by sticking with the tried and true – yes, I'm talking about used games – but the fact of the matter is that this one topic has secured the company a ton of goodwill from now up until launch. I'll be honest, the used games policy doesn't really affect me directly – I don’t sell my old games, for example. However, I think that the firm’s done the right thing by adopting a consumer-friendly approach in this area.
Overall, it's been an extremely positive E3 for Sony – and the future of the PS4 is currently looking very bright indeed.
Sammy Barker, Associate Editor
It’s the price that I think is most important. I always had a feeling that the PS4 was going to be a fairly affordable platform, but I never expected Sony to undercut Microsoft by such an impressive sum. That’s probably largely down to Microsoft’s hubris – let’s be honest, much of the PlayStation maker’s success at this year’s E3 has come down to its competitor’s complete disconnection with reality – but the $399 price sticker seems totally reasonable after the PlayStation 3’s disastrous launch figure.
I really like the look of the console, too. For a topic that got a lot of conversation in February after the PlayStation Meeting, it’s interesting that so little discussion has been dedicated to the PS4’s chassis. I think it’s a sleek looking bit of kit, though, and I’m surprised by how small it is. To pack such an impressive technical upgrade into a piece of hardware barely much bigger than the second-generation PS3 Slim represents a major achievement for Sony’s engineering team. Plus, how can you not love that little blue line?
If there was a down point, it was that the company didn’t make as big of a commitment to first-party software as I would have liked. Without a doubt inFAMOUS: Second Son is my most anticipated title for the console, and The Order: 1886 looks great – but we don’t really have a content roadmap beyond those two titles. I think that the PS3’s ongoing relevance is causing the issue here – the console is having an incredible 2013 – and that may lead to a slightly slow start for big first-party exclusives on the PS4. Still, the same thing happened to the manufacturer’s current generation console, and look how that’s turned out.
The thing that I’m genuinely most excited by is the emphasis on indie games. Of the eight or so titles that the platform holder revealed during its press conference, I don’t think that there is one that I won’t try. The likes of Octodad: Dadliest Catch, Galak-Z, and Transistor really appeal to me – and it’s clear that if the platform holder continues on its current path, that the array of content is only going to grow. And this is why I’m not particularly worried about the Vita either. Sure, it may not be bulging with the blockbusters that we all originally dreamed of – but who cares when Hotline Miami is right around the corner?
Mike Mason, Assistant Editor
Sony had a fairly decent E3, but more than anything its overall performance was dictated by a reliance on common sense when it came to used games, plus an extremely strong lineup for the final months of the PS3. When SCEA president Jack Tretton announced that PS4 wouldn't steal away your consumer rights, there were rightful jubilant cheers in the audience – but really, all Sony did was capitalise on Microsoft's ill-judged digital rights management stumble and re-introduce the exact same policies that it's been practising for years. Sony didn't have to do anything to gain big buzz this E3 with Microsoft facing PR armageddon.
Sony sneakily used the cover of elation to slip in the fact that online multiplayer is now a pay-for service – not a huge deal when combined with the superb value for money that PlayStation Plus already offers, you might argue, but a mildly disappointing turnabout at least. It also showed several interesting PS4 titles, such as The Order: 1886, and impressive technology demos from the likes of Quantic Dream, but for me there was no stand out game that made me want to run out and pre-order a PS4 this very second.
The main reason? The PS3's final year looks so astonishing – The Last of Us! Beyond: Two Souls! Grand Theft Auto V! Puppeteer! Rain! – that, in combination with the lineup on my other systems, I simply have no need for a PS4 this year. I'm ecstatic that Sony hasn't thrown the PS3 under the bus with its next generation system coming up, but I wouldn't be surprised if it eats into the PS4's own launch sales to some extent.
Vita, sadly, once again didn't get the breakout game it sorely needs, but we did at least see an update on the brilliant Tearaway and hear of plenty more encouraging indie support. It seems that there's still life in the handheld, but it's probably not going to be as the blockbuster-in-your-pocket portable that everybody first assumed.
Greg Giddens, Reviews Editor
I'm always excited for E3, but this year's show was particularly special due to the introduction of new hardware. The lovely looking PS4, with its highly competitive price point, consumer-friendly used games policy, and unprecedented power, looks to be inviting some of the most enticing game experiences. The next generation is almost here, and I could not be more excited.
This system isn’t just promising an increase in visual fidelity or player counts – titles such as The Division showed improvements in connectivity. The online integration is really levelling up, resulting in more organic worlds filled with players from across the globe. I really believe that the likes of Destiny and Watch Dogs – while familiar on the surface – are going to redefine our expectations of gaming as it currently exists. It feels like an unrestricted, new frontier. My only complaint is that we still have to wait a few months for it to begin. I want the next generation now.
Katy Ellis, Events Correspondent
Now that E3 is finally over, Sony deserves to give itself a big pat on the back. The Japanese giant truly stole the show away from Microsoft, partly due to the actual reveal of the PS4, but also because of its all-important stance on used games and offline support.
For me, Sony really delivered. The hosts didn't dawdle for too long on the subject of TV functionality, and for the vast majority of the conference, the emphasis truly was on the games. While it was sad that The Last Guardian wasn't invited to the show, plenty of other titles caught my eye, such as Ready at Dawn's impending The Order: 1886, which is set in a steampunk adaptation of Victorian London.
One of the best moments of the PlayStation press conference for me was Square Enix's segment, in which producer Tetsuya Nomura rebranded Final Fantasy Versus XIII as Final Fantasy XV. And boy does it look good. The action-packed trailer really got me excited for the game, which is surprising as hardly any Final Fantasy releases have piqued my interest since the PlayStation 2 days. I was also really pleased to see Kingdom Hearts III, though it sounds like it could be a while before we get our hands on that one.
Jamie O’Neill, Staff Writer
It’s a predictable response, but it’s also indicative of the impact of Sony’s E3 2013 press conference, that my most memorable recollection of the show was the company’s combative hunger to charm the core gamer. Obviously, the first thing that springs to mind is a title called ‘Jack Tretton’s Super Knock-Out!!’, with bullet points on the box stating that ‘PS4 supports used games’ and ‘Won’t require you to check-in online’. It was approximately 03:30AM BST in the UK when this dramatic news landed, and the atmosphere on the Internet was electric – I can only imagine what it was like to be among the cheers and chants of the conference audience.
This was amplified as it was preceded by a wonderfully well-rounded reveal of indie games by publisher relations executive Adam Boyes, and it ended with the highly competitive PS4 price-point of £349. I enjoyed the more detailed game footage from the show floor, especially compared to the paltry conference showings of Killzone: Shadow Fall, Knack, and especially inFAMOUS: Second Son, because each title’s shiny in-game visuals and gameplay mechanics were better showcased after the conference.
This also applies to the Vita games – the post-conference videos of Tearaway and Killzone: Mercenary were brilliant. Overall, I found E3 2013 to be a positive, impressive, and memorable show for Sony.
Robert Ramsey, Staff Writer
I’ll start by saying that I think that Sony did a great job – it was, in my opinion, the best press conference that the firm has held in the last few years. We saw some exciting announcements, some great trailers, and some intriguing gameplay. Of course, what really stole the show was Jack Tretton’s put down of Microsoft’s controversial Xbox One policies, and explaining the company’s stance without being evasive was the icing on the cake. And to think – at first I was worried. The first ten to fifteen minutes of the presser were so slow that I was close to believing that Sony would botch its entire E3 – it clearly has a lot to learn from the competition when it comes to pacing its events.
In terms of games, though, before the exposition began, I stressed that Square Enix had a lot to prove with whatever it brought to the table, and thankfully the publisher showed a lovely trailer for Final Fantasy XV. The lack of a release date, however, still irks me. Without one, nothing much has changed since we first saw Final Fantasy Versus XIII all those many years ago – but nevertheless, I’m trying to stay positive because of how polished the shown footage appeared to be.
What really topped off the keynote for me, though, was Destiny. I was already excited to see Bungie’s next hit before the convention kicked off, and now after witnessing it being played live, I simply can’t wait for the game to release. RPG elements have invaded pretty much every genre throughout the course of this generation, but with Destiny, it’s looking to take that one step further, forming the basis of an MMO-like structure. I can’t wait to see more, and I can’t wait for next year’s E3, either – the PS4 can only get better from here.
What were your overall impressions of PlayStation’s presence at E3 2013? Did it live up to your expectations, or were you disappointed with the software and announcements on offer? Let us know in the comments section below.