Sony switched up its annual pre-Tokyo Game Show press conference format this year, hosting a PlayStation LineUp Tour livestream that was surprisingly good. The hour-long event did have a live stage element, but there was only one public speaker: SEGA’s Toshihiro Nagoshi, who was awarded the opportunity to unveil Yakuza Studio’s new detective title Judge Eyes in person. And while there was a small audience huddled around a huge television screen, if it wasn't for a short interlude in which giant inflatable golf balls were batted around by uncomfortable attendees, we didn’t really know they were there.
This was, for all intents and purposes, a Nintendo Direct; it was a barrage of trailers, gameplay demos, and smaller announcements, uninterrupted. And it was, as we mentioned earlier, surprisingly good. The platform holder, perhaps recognising that it doesn’t have a personality like Shigeru Miyamoto or Eiji Aonuma, opted to pace the presentation with a space exploration theme. The idea, cheesy as it may seem on paper, was that a DualShock 4 was flying through the galaxy, discovering new star clusters filled with games. It worked well and kept the content flowing at a rapid pace.
In contrast, there’s no question that Sony’s conference at E3 2018 this year didn’t work, but if you take away the agonising interlude as attendees were bizarrely expected to walk to a different room, the format wasn’t massively dissimilar; once The Last of Us: Part II was out of the way, the Japanese giant played a string of trailers, one after the other, without any chatter or talking heads. After years and years of being criticised for poorly paced pressers, it seems that this is the direction that the organisation is heading now – but should it continue to do so?
You definitely do lose some of the magic when you switch to a pre-recorded livestream; the Jack Tretton smackdown of 2013 or the Holy Trifecta of 2015 simply wouldn’t have the same impact without an audience losing its mind. But while no company will say no to free viral marketing, these press conferences can be fickle beasts; The Last of Us: Part II looked outstanding at E3 2018, and so did Ghost of Tsushima – but there’s no doubt that Sid Shuman’s babble between both games sucked virtually all of the enthusiasm out of the show.
To be fair, a more traditional presentation could have saved Sony here, but these conferences aren’t cheap to put on – and who really benefits from strobe lighting and cinema screens? Only a select few actually attend the briefings in person, and while they can be considered chest beating from the platform holders in front of their corporate partners, all the majority of us want and need is a good quality feed of the games on display. The orchestra at PlayStation’s brilliant E3 2016 event was a neat trick, but it can’t be repeated now; E3 2018 is what happens when you try to take an already elaborate concept one step further.
We’re not saying scrap stage presence entirely; no one would say no to Hideo Kojima introducing Death Stranding or Neil Druckmann playing The Last of Us: Part II on stage – but do we need Shawn Layden to anchor things now? Can’t all of the information that we need be presented more clearly and concisely in a pre-recorded video that’s been thought-out, planned, and expertly edited? Look, we’ll always have a soft-spot for the stage shows of yore, but they’re beginning to look expensive, unwieldy, and honestly redundant in this Internet age. Maybe, just maybe, it’s time to change tact.
Do you think Sony should adopt pre-recorded press conferences moving forward, or do you think the live stage shows still have a place? What did you think of the PlayStation LineUp Tour livestream, and is that a format the platform holder should consider adopting worldwide? Whoop and holler in the comments section below.
Should Sony adopt pre-recorded pressers moving forwards? (97 votes)
Yes, I just want to see games without theatrics
Meh, I don't really care either way
No, the live aspect makes these briefings fun
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