Opinion: Sony Must Refresh the PS4's Momentum at GamesCom
Posted by Sammy Barker
Scrapping for the spotlight
Ever since Jack Tretton and company dropped the microphone at E3 2013, quite a lot has changed about the impending next generation arms race. The advantages that the platform holder engineered for the PlayStation 4 – partially accelerated by Microsoft’s own incompetence – have gradually started to erode, as the Redmond-based manufacturer has scrapped its controversial used games plans and self-publishing restrictions for the Xbox One. Despite all of this, Sony’s console is still riding high on a chorus of consumer goodwill – partly impacted by the platform’s cheaper price point – but the organisation must ensure that it keeps its nose in front, and it can start by landing a series of heavy haymakers at GamesCom.
While the North American firm has been changing its policies with more regularity than its undergarments, the Japanese giant has stayed pretty muted about the PS4. The console’s still topping pre-order lists, but it has lost a little mindshare in the process. Regardless of your thoughts on the great Xbox One-Eighty and its sequel, Microsoft has managed to wheedle its way back into the conversation. And if Sony is to maintain the advantage that it’s been enjoying for the past few months, then it must respond with a few big announcements of its own. Fortunately, there’s another major press event looming on the horizon.
Earlier in the week, the platform holder confirmed that it will be jetting off to Cologne in Germany on 20th August to anchor its annual GamesCom keynote. This has become a regular occurrence for the firm over the past half-decade, and while Microsoft has decided to latch onto the party this year, we’re expecting a characteristically aggressive showing from the Japanese giant at the Staatenhaus am Rheinpark theatre. But while we’re sure that both the PlayStation 3 and Vita will play a part in the organisation’s plans, we’re not surprised to learn that the PS4 is set to hog the spotlight during the showcase.
At the end of the day, it needs to. While the Japanese giant may have conquered E3 on the strength of its policies alone, many would argue that its game announcements weren’t quite up to scratch. Outside of new footage of Killzone: Shadow Fall, Knack, DriveClub, and inFAMOUS: Second Son, the only real exclusive reveal that the firm had to share – outside of the lovingly dubbed Indie Eight, of course – was Ready at Dawn’s delicious alternate-history adventure The Order: 1886. And that’s culminated with Microsoft sticking its nose in front in the software stakes.
But the platform holder’s played things smart, and kept its cards close to its chest. Weathering a backlash from the console’s disastrous introduction, the Redmond-based firm used its E3 press conference as a podium for pretty much every big exclusive in its stable. We’re sure that the competitor will still have surprises to share, but given that we only really know about a handful of the PS4’s 30 in-production exclusive games, it has the opportunity to pull back the curtain slightly at next month’s major showcase. And it’s that careful drip-feed of information that we expect to push the needle back in the next generation console’s favour.
We’re not predicting one big information dump, but two or three major reveals would certainly propel the console’s prospects. There’s lots of speculation surrounding Sony Santa Monica, Naughty Dog, London Studio, and Media Molecule right now – and reveals from any one of those major first-party players would really take a swipe at the Xbox One’s refreshed momentum. We also anticipate that some of the smaller teams – Housemarque, for example – will have some new content to share during Sony’s showcase.
But if the manufacturer really wants to turn the screw, it will need to date the platform aggressively, too. We strongly suspect that the next generation console’s launch timing will be deployed during the company’s GamesCom press conference, and, as we’ve speculated in other articles, we reckon that a late October release would just about edge out the Xbox One, and give the manufacturer time to replenish stock prior to Black Friday in North America. With its competitor also likely to reveal a release date on the same day, doubling down on the right timeframe would really put the momentum back in the PS4’s court coming out of GamesCom.
Perhaps the most reassuring thing is that the firm seems to understand how important it is that it maintains its current trajectory. Speaking with IGN earlier in the year, Jack Tretton told the publication that the company needed to get “back into the trenches” following its E3 successes, and SCEUK gaffer Fergal Gara mentioned a similar thing in an alternative interview. Let’s hope that it’s used that time underground to concoct a solid strategy for GamesCom that will result in the PS4 renewing its momentum as it edges ever closer to launch.
What do you think that Sony needs to do to strengthen the PS4’s position at GamesCom? What announcements would you personally like to see during the platform holder’s press conference? Let us know in the comments section below.
Which of the following first-party studios would you most like to reveal something for PS4 at GamesCom? (59 votes)
Sony San Diego
Sony Santa Monica
Please login to vote in this poll.