Jack Tretton (President and CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment of America) called E3 the Super Bowl for game makers at the start of Sony’s press conference. Does Sony live up to its own hype?
The answer in many ways depends on your definition of success. Does merely being part of the most important gaming event of the year constitute success or does a company need to create the most buzz and be dubbed a winner to be successful?
Let’s jump to the answer and then look at the reasoning. Sony’s E3 performance takes home the silver for 2012. Xbox unleashed a flurry of features which just couldn’t be matched by the others this year and Nintendo was completely unexciting, which left Sony somewhere in the middle.
Sony ended their press conference with some high quality game previews. The Last of Us looks brilliant and God of War: Ascension looks poised to keep that franchise running smooth with it’s high octane combat and brutal finishing scenes.
The Last of Us for PS3
There were a number of other game mentions including BEYOND Two Souls which stars Ellen Page (Juno fame) and a unique sea battle trailer from Assassin’s Creed 3.
The fact is, Sony’s game situation is stable. They have some intense new games lined up while existing franchises will continue to flourish on the PS3 platform.
Cross-play between PS3 and Vita was announced. The option to start a game on one device and continue play on the other gives players convenience and adds appeal to an increasingly irrelevant Vita.
Sony announced that Plus members will receive 12 new games this month and that they continue to expand their Plus offerings. Look for Infamous 2, LittleBigPlant 2 and Saints Row 2 among the new offerings. At $5/month the cost may be worth the return.
There wasn’t much excitement from Vita, but how much was really expected anyway? Announcements included YouTube for Vita, along with Hulu Plus and Crackle. The only time frame given for those channel additions was, “soon”. So while it’s encouraging to know more entertainment is coming to the Vita, lack of a definitive date hampers the announcement.
Games for the Vita include Assassin’s Creed Liberation which features the first female assassin in the franchise and coincides with the timeline of Assassin’s Creed 3, set during the Revolutionary War. Another notable mention was Call of Duty Black Ops: Declassified which is set for release Holiday 2012. Overall, Sony projects 60 new titles in 2012 will be available on Vita with PS one classics coming to Vita soon.
Assassin’s Creed Liberation
Playstation Suite has been renamed to Playstation Mobile.
Playstation is partnering with smartphone makers to ensure their devices are PS certified. The move is designed to create the best possible smartphone and tablet gaming for Playstation games. Sony announced that the first partner in this project is HTC. Normally this kind of announcement would be considered good news, but we’re designating it as average due to lack of time frame and real use demonstration.
The Questionable (Not Bad)
There’s no real bad segment, just questionable and Wonderbook fits squarely into that category. Set to go on sale Fall 2012, Wonderbook is add-on hardware for the PS3 that delivers augmented reality. It is a hardware book which generates video responsiveness on screen. To simplify it, Wonderbook is intended to bring storybooks to life on screen through the PS3.
Sony announced that their first partner for Wonderbook is J.K. Rowlings Pottermore. Book of Spells was demoed on stage, which demonstrated it’s integration with PS Move and how physical responses with the book translate on screen.
The demo was, in my opinion, a failure. It didn’t seem to work properly and the demo users on stage had to repeat the same gestures over and over again until Wonderbook acknowledged them. This is one of those times where a gameplay video would have been better served than a live gameplay demo.
Technical details aside, and we are willing to chalk Wonderbook up to technical problems, the entire idea is questionable. Wonderbook is described as having educational opportunities yet the presentation revolved around a fictional tale of magic. Perhaps this is an attempt to outdo LeapFrog or similar, but cost wise that doesn’t make sense. Maybe it’s just an add-on to generate additional revenue for what is likely the last year in PS3’s life cycle. Regardless, Wonderbook was a flop and something we’d more expect from Nintendo not a console that delivers hardcore gaming to a highly dedicated following.
Sony’s press conference was at times boring, but ended with a big wow! In the end they came up average, lacking clear and ready mobile details compared to Xbox’s SmartGlass. They outperformed Nintendo on games and cloud offerings, but could have done more. Finally, their new Wonderbook is a wild card that will be a complete disaster or be saved by the golden touch of J.K. Rowling.
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