The lights are on
Just like an episode of Game of Thrones, E3 is packed with drama. From shocking revelations to high-stakes blunders, the convention can make or break games, systems, and companies. What happened last year? Read on for a brief refresher.SonyIn case you forgot, Sony had a pretty good press conference last year. In fact, it was as dominant a performance as I’ve seen in my 15 years of attending E3. The reception of Sony’s press conference had as much to do with the bad feeling surrounding Microsoft at the time as it did with the substance of what Sony showed. Simply put, it saw a PR opportunity and capitalized on it. That’s what you’re supposed to do. Microsoft had painted itself in a corner by the confusion around whether or not the Xbox One would require an “always on” connection and restrict the sale of used games. Sony came out and, in plain language (and a little swagger on the part of now-exited SCEA CEO Jack Tretton) told the crowd what it wanted to hear: The PlayStation 4 would not require an Internet connection to function, and there would be no restrictions on selling or sharing used games. The thunderous applause and chants of “Sony! Sony!” that sprang up in the crowd were proof it was the right strategy.
The Big Reveal: Though it had held a PlayStation 4 announcement event months earlier in New York City, Sony hadn’t actually shown the public the console itself. Thus, the PlayStation 4 and its controller had their public coming out onstage with Sony president Andrew House. To no one’s surprise, it was a black box – a parallelogram this time! While it wasn’t the most daring design, it was generally well received. The new DualShock controller created a bigger stir during the show, when people could finally get their hands on the best controller Sony has ever created.Sony also won major points with the unit’s price. At $399 it did not include a camera peripheral like the Xbox One, but was $100 cheaper, something that proved to be a huge advantage in the year to come. This eventually forced Microsoft to drop the Kinect and repackage a lower-priced version of the Xbox One.
Major Games Shown:Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag*Beyond: Two Souls (PS3)*DestinyDriveClubThe Elder Scrolls Online (PS4)Final Fantasy XV (retitled Final Fantasy Versus XIII)Infamous: Second Son*Killzone: Shadow Fall*Kingdom Hearts III (announced)Knack*Mad MaxThe Last of Us (PS3)*The Order: 1886Transistor*Watch Dogs (mobile app shown)**released since E3Services: While Sony made the biggest news with its open used-game policy, it actually did sneak in an extra cost to consumers without taking a major PR hit for it. During the conference, it was revealed that multiplayer gaming would require a PlayStation Plus subscription on PS4. Services like Netflix would still remain open to all, and PlayStation Plus would continue to supply subscribers with free games each month.Sony didn’t talk a lot about its back catalog games on demand program, but it did hint at the fact that its entertainment division would be producing original television-style content for PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Network – something we still haven’t seen.Miscellaneous: Sony also spent some time talking about the Vita, showing off a number of titles that were upcoming, including Media Molecule’s excellent Tearaway and confirming that The Walking Dead: 400 Days was coming to Vita. It also showed off a number of promising indie games, and an odd concept trailer entitled “The Dark Sorcerer” by Quantic Dream that started as a dark fantasy cutscene and ended up breaking the fourth wall in a comedic way. It’s still not clear whether this was a concept or a teaser for a new game.Missing in Action: Any serious talk about the PlayStation On Demand program (which didn’t receive an official name until early 2014), Team ICO’s long-awaited The Last Guardian, the next Uncharted game, any talk about a God of War game for PlayStation 4.