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PlayStation Meeting 2011 Liveblog

by Phil Kollar on Jan 26, 2011 at 05:45 PM

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Hey, everyone! I'm live from the PlayStation 2011 meeting in Japan, which is set to begin in about 10 or 15 minutes. I'll be updating this post with live impressions and announcements as they happen, so stay tuned!

11:47 -- Hanging out with people from GamePro, IGN, OPM, and 1UP. Everyone seems convinced that the PSP2 is the big announcement, so the discussion we're having is how much they'll show -- how many games they'll announce, etc. What do you expect?

11:50 -- FYI, I was asleep, but my snoring bothered the other media folk in the area enough they they woke me up. Jerks!

11:52 -- Sony is asking that we fill in the seats from the front of the room. That means there are still seats open if you want to fly to Tokyo quick!

11:57 -- Ben Reeves tells me he's on his way to Tokyo. WILL HE MAKE IT IN TIME?

11:59 -- Still no press conference, but lots of dance music. How much money can the commenters pool together to give me if I start dancing on stage? Eh, I'll probably just take another nap instead.

12:02 -- Reiner is predicting that they'll show Uncharted and Call of Duty spin-offs for PSP2. Me? I think this whole thing is all about the great Overblood revival we've been waiting for.

12:05 -- "Ladies and gentlemen, we will be starting Sony Computer Entertainment PlayStation Meeting 2011 momentary." !!

12:08 -- And here we go! Kaz Hirai has taken the stage!

12:09 -- Kaz says he's nervous but excited. First major announcement from SCE of the year. "To share the dynamism of this business."

12:10 -- Starting with a "cyber society" video clip that they showed at E3 five years ago.

12:11 -- This video is talking about connecting reality and information to "experience your own reality" -- such as playing a golf game on any golf course in the world. Kaz: "When reality is digitized in data, it becomes your own version of reality over which you have complete control and freedom."

12:12 -- Kaz says he thinks that a lot of what Sony envisioned five years ago has materialized in the lives of PlayStation users. They want computer entertainment to travel with the user beyond the home. "Today I'd like to speak about a whole new world that the PlayStation is about to bring to reality. The future will one day become reality."

12:14 -- Kaz is talking about how the PS3 has won its place at the center of the living room through various offerings -- Blu-ray, 3D, PlayStation Network, etc.

12:15 -- 80% of PS3s are connected to the Internet apparently. Talking about the trinity of hardware, software, and network. Lots of big PSN numbers. Over 69 million registered accounts.

12:16 -- Kaz is switching gears now to portable gaming -- "the world outside the living room."

12:18 -- Talking about how the world of portable gaming has undergone a huge change since the introduction of the PSP. Back then, you could only game via gaming-specific devices, but now lots of gaming is done via mobile devices. Kaz says Sony must address these changes in the market.

12:19 -- Kaz says multi-functional portable devices are just now finally ready for PlayStation level gaming experiences. So...PlayStation phone?

12:20 -- Nope! They announced PlayStation Suite, a cross-platform, cross-device service that allows developers to create PlayStation-level content for Android-based mobile platforms.

12:21 -- Sony will be doing content quality testing as part of a program called ":PlayStation Certified." These PlayStation Certified games will be available on any Android platforms. They will be emulating PS1 generation titles as well. Rad.

12:23 -- PlayStation Suite will provide a "hardware-neutral game framework" -- as long as that hardware uses the Android operating system. This seems like a huge way for Android phones to increase their ability to challenge iPhone in the game space. As an Android user, I'm very interested and excited.

12:24 -- PlayStation Store will be launching for Android devices. You will be able to download PlayStation content from it.

12:25 -- Kaz says PlayStation Suite is "essential" to the world of mobile entertainment. "We're approaching a future in which we can access data for PS3 or PSP any time we want to."

12:26 -- PlayStation Suite content will be available by the end of the year. Now we're moving onto portable discussion. Kaz says the mobile stuff allows them to expand to casual gaming, but they want to continue pursuing what Sony is known for -- "takes an integrated system to pursue the ultimate gaming experience...That's what I'm going to share with you." Next-gen PSP is codenamed AMGP. Five concepts supporting it.

12:28 -- The new PSP will have PlayStation Suite compatibility. Sounds like it will be focused on a changing user interface and location-based gaming, including augmented reality. Video playing now.

12:29 -- Footage of people of various ages jumping around and generally messing with reality. "Play Life" seems to be the marketing phrase for the new handheld, along with "The power is now in your hands."

12:31 -- Kaz says they want to transform every aspect of life into entertainment with the new device. Six-axis motion sensing. Camera. Microphone. High resolution. "New game media." A touch pad on the back. Looks a lot like a PSP but with a bigger screen, two analog sticks, and the touch pad.

12:33 -- It's a VERY sleek-looking device. Also looks expensive though. Doubt we'll get a price tonight. Equipped with five-inch OLED screen with five times the quality of current PSP. Touch pads on front too apparently. Cameras on front and rear.

12:35 -- The system will use 3G and wi-fi. It looks like it will use flash cards for game media. It will be released on the holiday season this year. They keep referring to it as "NGP" I think? Weird title.

12:36 -- LOL, oh, NGP = "next generation portable." I don't think that's the final title. They're claiming the new portable will have PS3-level quality of games.

12:37 -- Video of titles in development being shown. Golf Next looks like Hot Shots Golf. Gravity Daze looks like some crazy platforming game. A Killzone first-person shooter. A pool game. "Reality Fighters." A game called Broken that uses the camera to search real world environments. LittleBigPlanet 2. A colorful game called Little Deviants. A new Wipeout. A new Resistance. A new Uncharted that has touch-screen-based puzzles as well as platforming/shooting. Wow., lots of stuff.

12:39 -- They're going to play some of the new Uncharted. It's apparently an original Uncharted title developed for the system. It looks beautiful. Sounds like it's developed by Sony internally but under guidance from Naughty Dog.

12:40 -- Showing off how the image remains very crisp and clear no matter what angle you turn it. Burn on the 3DS? Noting that the second analog stick was the most requested change from the original PSP.

12:42 -- In the game, Drake is running through some jungles that look similar to environments from the first Uncharted. It looks very beautiful. The animation is definitely up the quality we've come to expect from the series on PS3. He's swinging from vines and navigating the area. You can use the rear touch panel -- sliding your fingers along it will make Drake climb up a vine. "As if you are climbing the vine with both hands." It looks gimmicky but cool.

12:44 -- You can draw a line with your finger on the front panel to make Drake climb in the direction you're drawing. It seems like the touch screen stuff is optional, but it's unclear. He sneaks up to one enemy and taps him with his finger to push him off the cliff. You can use the gyroscopic sensor to aim with a rifle.

12:46 -- Now they're going to discuss user experience on the new handheld.

12:47 -- They call the design "super oval" design, and it's apparently made for gaming in long stretches comfortably. They're showing off the "touch, grab, trace, push, pull" capabilities of the touch screen. They're going to show Little Deviants.

12:48 -- Little orange creatures called "deviants in the world. You touch the back panel to make the world pop up and form hills for the deviants to roll down. Where you touch on the rear panel is exactly where the hills form in the game. You can also tap to make characters jump. Multi-touch confirmed -- you can use two fingers at the same time in the game. Some slow-down in the game. Clearly still an early build.

12:51 -- The main goal of the game seems to be forcing the deviants to roll around and collect stars around the game board. Now they're talking about "Live Area," a "game-oriented communication experience."

12:52 -- The system has a user interface called "Live Area" -- little bubbles floating that you can click on for PlayStation Store, various games, photos, settings, etc. Not too different from the touch interface on iPhone or Android, but they want it to be fun to use. They click Hot Shots Golf and are able to jump right to the PlayStation Store where they can purchase new golf courses. Looks like downloadable content will be a big deal on this portable as well.

12:54 -- The communication option will show you what your friends have done in the game recently -- when they've cleared new courses, beat the game, purchased new content, etc. Reminds me of Need for Speed: Most Wanted's user log. "First ever portable game system to connect to mobile networks." That will include using 3G for multiplayer.

12:56 -- Now we're talking about location-based entertainment. This will let you know what people are playing in the same area as you. They have an app called "Near" that does this.

12:57 -- If you turn Near on, it will track where you go throughout your day and give you information. Information related to specific locations will be gathered, such as the most popular game played in each area. It will show you users in your area and give you their PlayStation Network avatar.

1:00 -- This stuff is extremely cool if vaguely Orwellian. Again, it all seems totally optional though. It also seems like the kind of thing that will be extremely popular and interesting in Japan but perhaps less so in the U.S.

1:01 -- Now moving onto how the handheld will "converge real and virtual."

1:02 -- They're showing off Hot Shots Golf as an example of this. You can use the touch panel to check the score, check courses, move position, and more.

1:04 -- If you tap the eye icon, the game changes to a first-person view. As you move the console around and rotate, your view in the game will rotate, allowing you to look around the course in 360 degrees. This is some crazy future stuff.

1:08 -- Apparently the new handheld uses the same acceleromator and gyroscopic sensor as the PlayStation Move. Kaz is reiterating that PlayStation Suite content available on Android phones will also be available on the new handheld.

1:09 -- Capcom, Sega, Tecmo, Konami, Epic (?!), and Activision are taking the stage to talk about third-party support. Starting with Capcom.

1:10 -- Capcom's Takeuchi is thanking the audience for the success of Monster Hunter 3. A downloadable version of Monster Hunter is being developed. He's going to show off Monster Hunter Portable 3rd running on NGP.

1:12 -- Takeuchi has reassigned camera controls for the game to the right stick, so it controls just like the console version of Monster Hunter. He says "the stick feels great. You can quote me. That's my first impression." He says the analog stick feels different from the regular PSP. He also seems impressed by the high resolution. "I am sure everyone will enjoy playing this game on this device."

1:14 -- Talking about Capcom's MT Framework mobile development tools. Showing opening of Lost Planet 2 rendered in real-time on NGP. He says the quality is "just as good" as on PS3, though it looks a little bit less good. Still, very impressive.

1:16 -- Takeuchi says they're not announcing any new titles today, but they will be announcing Capcom-published NGP titles "before long." Toshihiro Nagoshi from Sega is taking the stage.

1:18 -- Nagoshi is going through the different things developers think about when approaching new hardware for the first time. He seems excited about the 3G capabilities. "Personally, I'm so overwhelmed. This is really a request from all users in Japan. This is a hardware with no excuses."

1:19 -- Showing footage for a game -- looks like a Yakuza game? -- that they ported over to NGP. He's saying the tech behind it can be ported over to the handheld easily.

1:20 -- Yeah, it was just a brief clip from the new Yakuza zombie game. Nagoshi says they don't have anything new to show today either but that they're excited to start developing games for the hardware. I wonder if any of the third parties will have actual games to show at this point?

1:22 -- Akihiro Suzuki from Tecmo Koei is now on the stage. Guess what: He's excited about the new portable system as well.

1:23 -- Showing off a new Dynasty Warriors game that allows you to "touch the enemy" to fight it. Character is surrounded by opponents. User can tap each enemy and then the character rushes forward and destroys all of them. Tapping multiple times on a single enemy does a powerful attack. Worth noting: Enemies aren't actually moving or attacking in this demo. It's clearly a very early proof of concept thing.

1:25 -- Suzuki says they're going to continue building on this unique idea. "With the launch of NGP, I'm sure the world will see a new series that will be scoring very big." I think he's saying that there will be new IP in addition to older franchises being ported? He's talking about Dynasty Warriors being "reborn" on the new platform.

1:27 -- Oh sh-- Kojima on the stage to talk about Konami. Showing test images from what looks like Metal Gear Solid 4 on the NGP.

1:28 -- Again, this doesn't look quite as good as on the PS3, but it's shockingly close. Very high quality. It doesn't sound like Konami is confirming MGS4 for the new handheld, but I wonder if they won't do something like Snake Eater on the 3DS.

1:29 -- Kojima says the model data and environment data was transferred directly to the NGP from the PlayStation 3 version of Metal Gear Solid 4. Now he's talking about Peace Walker on PSP and how at the time he said we'd be entering the world of cloud computing in the future. This is kind of confusing. Peace Walker was an experiment at a portable Metal Gear Solid.

1:32 -- "One dream that has not come true yet. That's what we'd like to realize now." He wants users to play the same game on PS3 and this new handheld, so you can keep playing the same game when you go out. That would be pretty cool, although the way he's explaining it feels like a cut scene from MGS2.

1:33 -- Kojima says he's working on a project to make this dream come true. They aren't ready to show it yet, but he's hoping to reveal it at E3. That's a pretty direct hint of what we're probably going to see at Sony's E3 press conference. Interesting.

1:34 -- Tim Sweeney from Epic is out now, showing Unreal Engine 3 running on NGP. It looks like the same "Epic Citadel" footage that they used to show off Unreal Engine on iPhone. "Large realistic environment...next generation appearance."

1:36 -- Sweeney: "Roughly four times the power we've seen on any previous mobile platform." He's going into technical stuff. Now he's showing Dungeon Defenders, which is a UE3 game developed by Trendy Entertainment. Built for PlayStation 3 and moved to NGP with less than a week of work.

1:39 -- Finally we're onto Philip Earl from Activision. I think Reiner was right with his Call of Duty guess.

1:40 -- Yep! Call of Duty confirmed for NGP.

1:41 -- Earl believes Call of Duty on NGP will set the standard for portable games in the future. More details on Call of Duty on NGP coming in the future -- no footage or further info right now, it sounds like.

1:42 -- A list of other third-party partners being shown, including Grasshopper, From Software, Ubisoft, Square Enix, PopCap, Warner Bros, 2K, Rockstar, and more. I didn't see any Atlus! WHAT GIVES? (It's possible I just missed it. Likely, even.)

1:45 -- PlayStation Meeting 2011 is over! I'm off to do an interview with some Sony folks about the NGP. It's looking like hands-on time won't be likely, but hopefully I'll have some more impressions later. Thanks for sticking with us and stay tuned for more NGP coverage soon!