Reaction: Poor Pacing Disrupts Otherwise Excellent PS4 Press Conference
Posted by Sammy Barker
Up and down
For large chunks of last night’s PlayStation press conference, we really thought that Sony had learned. We’ve berated the platform holder for its poorly paced presentations in the past, but there were no signs of the manufacturer’s talkative old times as it launched straight into a Destiny driven light show before immediately segueing over to alternate history exclusive The Order: 1886. That punchy pace persisted for several moments longer, as the company confirmed that student developed indie Entwined would be available to purchase from the PlayStation Store directly after the conference concluded – and that LittleBigPlanet 3 would launch on the next-gen system this November.
The latter was a genuine surprise – a secretive sequel that we penned a short rumour on last year, only to forget it in the hustle and bustle of the weeks since. The game appears to have expanded upon Media Molecule’s original vision with a much more diverse co-operative format, allowing different players to adopt unique roles, in a manner that’s sure to reinvent the very concept of Play Create Share as a result. But while this burgeoning potential is exciting, the shock holiday release date hit like a seismic shock, proving that it does sometimes pay to hold your announcements back for as long as possible.
And even with that burlap bomb, the manufacturer wasn’t done yet. Worldwide Studios president Shuhei Yoshida made a brief cameo in order to confirm that Dark Souls developer From Software is indeed making a gruesome next-gen exclusive named Bloodborne, while third-party chief Adam Boyes rolled out Dead Island 2, Grim Fandango, Let It Die, and the absolutely beautiful No Man’s Sky. It was the kind of breakneck pacing that’s ordinarily reserved for a Microsoft presentation, anchored by cute letter links, pulsating gameplay presentations, and some well selected trailers. As group president Andy House returned to the stage, there was a sense of awe online.
But that’s when it inevitably fell apart, of course. “Sony’s got this in the bag,” this particular author whispered to an enamoured associate editor Robert Ramsey as new SCEA president Shawn Layden took to the stage. “All the company needs to do now is drop a couple of Naughty Dog trailers and it’ll be sitting pretty.” The new executive’s opening address was calm and collected, as he took a moment to familiarise his own bubbly personality with those in the audience and watching online. But as the sharp suited speaker’s soliloquy went on, so too did the momentum of the conference begin to sag.
The problem with this seemingly never ending portion of the presser was not necessarily down to delivery or even the content that it involved; PlayStation TV and PlayStation Now are important parts of the platform holder’s strategy, and certainly deserved their spell in the spotlight. However, the drone of dates and statistics transported us back to a time when Kaz Hirai would regurgitate sales figures for several hours before maybe teasing us with a trailer for good behaviour. The media may continue to refer to these industry events as ‘press conferences’, but the reality is that they are consumer focused affairs now, with every announcement being streamed online, and, in Sony’s case, in theatres around the United States.
The soggy central core meant that Layden left the stage to cheers of mercy rather than genuine excitement, and while his portion was followed by an even duller discussion on PlayStation Network programming, he’ll now be associated with utterly destroying the pace of an otherwise excellent press conference – whether that’s reasonable or not. Fortunately, the platform holder rescued the situation by arguably saving the best until last: Grand Theft Auto V, Batman: Arkham Knight, and Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End would be showstoppers at any media briefing. But that breakneck conclusion tasted a little bittersweet after the sour middle-eight, which didn’t necessarily detract from all of the good that Sony had to show, but did totally break the pace. Subtract some thirty minutes and the platform holder would have run away with this year’s E3 again, but we suppose that given the success of the PS4 so far, it has to give everyone else a chance.
Were you saddened to see Sony slip back into bad habits? Did you like what the platform holder had to show elsewhere? Share your thoughts on the platform holder’s big E3 presentation in the comments section below.
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