It was a coincidence that my colleague Liam Croft published an article about the state of, er, Sony’s State of Play livestreams on a week where the manufacturer hosted a new one. I’ll let you read his article in full – you can find it through here – but to paraphrase, his overarching point was that the branding has gotten messy, as the platform holder attaches it to anything from livestreams like we saw last night to what are effectively gameplay deep dives. I agree.
But I think State of Play has a much bigger problem: it doesn’t feel like the company is completely committed to the formula. I know exactly what Liam means when he argues that the firm has watered down the concept, because you can’t compare what we saw last night to the random video it released for, say, Destruction AllStars. But while I think the most recent show was weak, I still feel like we all had a rough idea of what to expect: a short montage of trailers and commentated gameplay footage.
However, while State of Play clearly exists to compete with Nintendo Direct, I can’t shake the feeling that Sony is keeping it at arm’s length. If you compare last night’s stream to, for example, the Future of Gaming showcase that centred on the PlayStation 5 – it’s just different. The concept is the same: trailers, gameplay demos, and commentary – but one feels like it’s got the company’s full weight behind it, and the other seems like the pet project of the organisation’s social media team.
This is not intended as a slight at anyone or anything, because I enjoyed some of the games shown during last night’s presentation and I don’t really have any qualms with PlayStation marketing them in this way. But while there have been “poor” Nintendo Directs over the years, I’ve always felt like Nintendo is “all in” on the initiative; State of Play feels tentative, and almost detached from what the organisation is doing elsewhere.
In an era where people can’t gather in public spaces, livestreams are more important to publishers than ever before. And I have no doubt that Sony will hold more events throughout the year that delve into the more intricate details of its upcoming releases. But I feel like it has a decision to make: is State of Play the direction it wants to go? Because if it is, then it needs to buy in to the format entirely; the history of this series, so far, is that it’s barely even half in on the idea.
What are your thoughts on State of Play now that the series has been running for a little while? What does Sony need to focus on to improve this series? Let us know in the comments section below.