Sony's E3 2013 press conference lives long in the memory for a number of reasons. It was where Jack Tretton announced that the PlayStation 4 would undercut the Xbox One by $100 at launch. Final Fantasy Versus XIII was reintroduced as Final Fantasy XV, followed up by the reveal of Kingdom Hearts III. And exclusives games such as The Order: 1886 were unveiled. It is also remembered for Sony's continued commitment to supporting the used game market. Seven years later, that sounds like such a strange thing to comment on during a next-generation showcase. However, it was an initiative instrumental to the success of the PS4's earlier years.
That's because, at the time, Microsoft's next platform would ship with some worrying online restrictions that threatened to eliminate the used game market and force users into connecting to Xbox Live every 24 hours. The team in green scrapped its plans just nine days after Sony announced it wouldn't be following in its footsteps, and the Japanese giant's used game instructional video surely played a huge part in that. A very simple, 21-second video demonstrated how PS4 players would be able to share their games with friends and family, and this was the "big, dumb idea" of Adam Boyes. Thought of on the plane to E3 2013, the former Vice President of Third-Party Relations has shared with Push Square how this video took shape.
The thought was birthed just before E3 2013 got underway after Microsoft put out out a website detailing the policies. "Xbox had put up a website that sort of went through all the rules and how the Xbox One would work. It was four or five pages about parent accounts and child accounts and how many times you could share stuff and, you know, always online. And I was watching a Giant Bomb video where the crew, so it was Patrick Klepek and Jeff Gerstmann, were trying to figure it out. It was about an hour-long video and they were like 'I think if you have this game' and they were just basically doing this whole thing over and over again. And I was like, wow. They don't even understand it and these are guys that I respect and care a lot about and are very clued in."
Seeing this is what led Adam down the road of having a quick-fire video to support the messaging of the press conference. For starters, he thought of an easy-to-read website containing just four bullet points rather than five pages of text. However, he quickly realised that this actually only needed to be a single point: "What if it was just one thing?"
On the plane to the convention, Adam typed up his idea and sent it to the executive team and asked for their thoughts. "When I landed they were like, 'Holy crap, let's give this a go.' I got to the stadium for run-throughs and stuff like that and I saw Shu Yoshida. And I said, 'Hey Shu, I have this really dumb idea for this video, this goofy sort of like viral video.'" Initially, Adam thought Shu Yoshida should do the video with someone like Scott Rhode or Jack Tretton, but Shu insisted on him being in it. "No Adam, it was your idea so you should be in it with me."
The two then went backstage and began shooting the video across five to eight different takes with the main variation being how Adam responded. "We had some takes where we were like 'That was easy' but that's Target's tagline. So, in the end, we just went with a thanks." From there, the video team ran with it and added special effects along with the 'Step 1' introduction and it was this that really made the video special, Adam thinks. "That is what I think totally sold it."
The video was then shown to Andy House, who loved it and actually wanted it to be a part of the conference. Jack Tretton agreed, but he didn't want it in the live show. "He said 'I love it, take it out of my god damn conference.' He didn't want it because this is not a corporate message, this is you guys."
Instead, Adam and Shu waited backstage for Jack to announce Sony's stance on used games and agreed to tweet a link to the video at the exact same time. "As soon as Jack announced the policies, we both tweeted the exact same time a link to that video. I remember because I had to type on Shu's phone to make sure it was perfect and I couldn't copy and paste so I was putting in the YouTube address. We hit send and the meme was born." At the time of writing, Adam and Shu's used game instructional video has amassed an impressive 17 million views, proving that along with the conference's messaging, it played a large part in Microsoft's decision to scale back its policy choices. Who knows where the industry would be today without it.
These quotes form just part of a discussion that Push Square has conducted with Adam Boyes. The full interview will be published next week. Were you watching when Sony announced that it would be supporting used games at E3 2013? What was your reaction to Adam and Shuhei's used game instructional video? Let us know in the comments below.