Making a difference

Sony evidently heard the criticism to its lacklustre E3 showing earlier in the year. SCEE executive Jim Ryan’s declaration that the first hour of its GamesCom 2012 PlayStation press conference would be devoted to the Vita was proof enough. For perhaps the first time in the history of the brand, the platform holder shrugged aside its home console and placed the spotlight on its fledgling handheld. It was a necessary, timely and brilliantly calculated move.

Last night’s GamesCom press conference made E3 look like a dress rehearsal. The Japanese giant did away with the unnecessary grandeur of last year’s Diversity performance, opting to keep things straight-forward and simple. Games were the takeaway – and the platform holder had lots of them. But it was the nature of the games that really stood out for Vita.

For years Sony has been criticised by some for relegating its smaller teams to handheld titles, but the platform holder emphatically eschewed that trend last night. Media Molecule’s co-creator Alex Evans introduced new Vita exclusive Tearaway with affable awkwardness, while Guerrilla Games’ logo lingered ahead of a stunning Killzone: Mercenary trailer. The takeaway: two of Worldwide Studio's most important first-party outfits are committed to producing exclusive content for the platform.

It was the show of faith that E3 had failed to recognise. There’s no doubt that Jack Tretton and co believed the Vita’s showing in Los Angeles was strong enough – in truth, the company had plenty of titles on the show floor – but the lack of commitment to its future line-up set alarm bells ringing. At the time, it seemed like not even Sony had faith in its own device.

Show of faith

But it’s incredible how a handful of carefully prepared announcements can completely change perception, and Sony executed its game plan with exact precision last night. For perhaps the first time since its launch, interest in the platform soared – a necessity considering the recent gloominess surrounding its prospects.

Of course, it would be naive to assume that the system is saved; it still faces serious challenges. For one, the price of entry is far too high for the mainstream consumer, and that will limit the reach of potential blockbusters like Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation. But that the support is present in the first place paints an overwhelmingly more positive outlook for the platform, and perception is ultimately paramount.

Sony couldn’t afford to put a foot wrong last night – and it didn’t. If anything, it exceeded expectations. Call of Duty: Black Ops Declassified’s less than stellar showing will go down as the one disappointment in the otherwise assured showing, but even that wasn’t enough of a letdown to disrupt the underlying message that Vita is indeed back in play.

What were your thoughts on Sony's GamesCom 2012 press conference? Are you looking forward to the newly announced Vita titles? Let us know in the comments section below.