Reaction: Sony Refreshes PS4 with Indie Vision, Keeps Ammunition Stashed Away
Posted by Sammy Barker
Shots not fired
Covering a press conference really changes your perspective of the content revealed within it. It can be all too easy to gloss over reveals when you’re sitting slumped in front of a laptop computer, but when you have to contend with a barrage of press releases in the early hours of the morning, it tweaks your outlook a little. While we’ve come to expect an onslaught of announcements from all of Sony’s annual showcases, yesterday’s big GamesCom event surpassed our wildest expectations. Ordinarily reserved for just a handful of pleasant, if unspectacular, unveilings, the Japanese giant used its stage time in Cologne to fire off several rounds of noteworthy next generation nuggets. Even more impressively, it did it all without even reaching for the incendiary ammunition fidgeting within its inventory.
At one point during the live stream, Worldwide Studios vice president Michael Denny looked directly into the camera and acknowledged with a wry smile that Media Molecule, Sony Santa Monica, and Naughty Dog are all deep into development on PlayStation 4 games. It’s a testament to the strength of the platform holder’s studio outreach that it still managed to rattle off a dizzying number of reveals without ever really calling upon the firepower of its major first-party studios.
But it’s a move that’s prompted criticism in some circles, as impatient pundits clamour restlessly for the next big PS4 release. The platform holder’s been alarmingly quiet in the blockbuster department, allowing Microsoft to more or less take the lead. The perception’s been twisted a little at GamesCom – the Redmond-based firm only announced Fable Legends, after all – but a quick glimpse at launch lineups shows several more bulletpoints in the North American firm’s favour. Sony, meanwhile, has resisted the urge to compete in a round of list wars, sticking rather rigidly to its launch trifecta of Killzone: Shadow Fall, DriveClub, and Knack. There’s still inFAMOUS: Second Son and The Order: 1886 right around the corner, of course, but for some, that’s not enough.
And that’s fine – we can absolutely understand the disappointment if popping Helghast helmets isn’t your preferred pastime of choice – but it overlooks a couple of key points. As hinted by the sharply dressed Denny during the keynote, the big studios aren’t twiddling their thumbs. We know that Stig Asmussen’s team at Sony Santa Monica is collaborating with Battlestar Galactica writer Michael Angelina on a project that’s been in production since 2010, while Naughty Dog has a second team that hasn’t said a word since 2011. Media Molecule, meanwhile, is playing around with puppets, while Japan Studio is hopefully coughing up feathers as we type.
The point is that the big games are coming. Sony probably could have shown a couple of short trailers for its unannounced first-party games – similar, perhaps, to Microsoft’s brief Halo tease at E3 – but it simply doesn’t need to at this stage. The platform has already surpassed a staggering one million pre-orders on the strength of its launch lineup alone, and it’s not like the system’s exactly parched in the software department.
Indeed, when you step back and take a proper look at what the company did announce for the PS4 overnight, it’s breathtaking stuff. Not only does Tequila Works’ gorgeous ICO-esque open world adventure RIME look like one of the most beautiful titles on the platform thus far (and, yes, we’re tossing the big-budget retail games into that), but Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture – produced in partnership between award-winning Dear Esther developer The Chinese Room and Sony Santa Monica – is the kind of collaboration that dreams are made of. Throw in oversaturated shooter ResoGun, steampunk aircraft combat simulator Guns of Icarus Online, and hotly anticipated sequel, er, Hotline Miami 2, and it’s hard not to feel a tingle or two of anticipation. And, incredibly, that’s just a small sample of the sheer number of titles that the platform holder revealed.
Granted, some of these games will launch on the PC – and, eventually, other platforms, too – but the fact that Sony’s associating itself with the releases early is a bold and intelligent move. It’s building an incredibly varied portfolio of software, and forging strong relationships with the developers of tomorrow. We doubt that anyone’s going to purchase a PS4 on the strength of Starbound alone, but the quirky extraterrestrial adventure will add a different dimension – literally – to the next generation system’s software list.
And it’s the sheer depth and diversity of these types of experiences that have provided the PS4 with yet another boost. Sony may not have brought out the big guns during its press conference, but it really didn’t need to; it had more than enough content to fill its hour-long livestream, and keep us up half of the night. Just because it didn’t wheel out its next big blockbuster doesn’t mean that those games don’t exist. If anything, it makes the coming months even more exciting, because in addition to all of the aforementioned indie games, we still haven’t got a proper look at the platform holder’s full hand.
Were you impressed by the sheer array of content announced during Sony’s big GamesCom press conference? Did the lack of blockbuster reveals leave you disappointed? Let us know in the comments section and poll below.
What did you make of the PS4’s presence during Sony’s GamesCom press conference? (58 votes)
I thought it was a really strong showing, and can’t wait to play some of the games
I would have liked to see more blockbuster exclusives, but I know they’re coming
I came away extremely disappointed by the overemphasis on indie software
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