Let’s get this out of the way, right here and right now- this was Sony’s worst E3 showing in years. Not only was the presentation style itself awful, the length boring, and the presenters cringe inducing, but a lot of the actual stuff that Sony presented was extremely unimpressive. Even so, Sony would have been able to salvage this conference if they had at least paced it better and remained focused- they had enough games that they covered. In fact, they probably covered more games than any of the other three E3 presentations so far.
No, the issue was Sony’s insistence to talk about things no one cared about. The issue was their propensity to discuss peripherals such as the PlayStation Camera, to discuss PS4’s movie and media capabilities, to discuss exclusive TV and movie content coming to PS4, to focus on timed exclusivity instead of true exclusives, to talk about sales figures and online play stats… and no one really cared.
But what about the games? How were the games that they focused on?
Admittedly, the games that Sony talked about were good- they started out with Destiny (which looks pretty underwhelming, but it’s a major game, and Sony frontending their conference with that was a ballsy move), moved on to some standalone (and excellent looking) inFamous: Second Son DLC called inFamous: First Light, announced LittleBigPlanet 3, and then proceeded to demo it for a bit, confirmed the existence of Project Souls, and announced it as Bloodborne, showed us a bit more of The Order 1866, debuted a new Suda 51 game called Let It Die coming only to the PS4, showed us Dead Island 2, a whole lot of indie games that looked simply charming, including Entwined, No Man’s Sky (which was possibly the best game shown off all conference), Devolver, and Hotline Miami 2; showed off some excellent looking Far Cry 4 gameplay, confirmed the existence of a GTA 5 port to next generation consoles and PC, showed us some of The Last of Us Remastered, revealed a partnership with Paradox, with a new Magicka game being the first product of that partnership, showed off Mortal Kombat X, Batman: Arkham Knight, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, and Battlefield: Hardline, and ended with Uncharted: A Thief’s End.
That’s a mighty impressive list of games by any yardstick, and if Sony had only chosen to focus on these games, their conference would have been that much better for it. Instead, they chose to structure their conference very weirdly, spacing everything out so that the impact of each announcement was lessened and dulled by the general boredom, and completely undermined by the middle section of the conference, where all that Sony talked about was sales figures, stats for online play on the PlayStation 4 since launch, and some extremely needless potshots at the competition that just came off as forced this time around.
Let’s actually talk about that. Let’s try and understand that in context of Sony’s E3 ‘victory’ last year, which was sealed when Sony took some pretty explicit and not so subtle jabs at Microsoft, and their then planned vision for the Xbox One. At that point, it was well called for, and deserved on both sides- Microsoft needed to be called out on their shit, and Sony deserved credit for going the pro-consumer route. But Sony’s attempt to replicate that tonight came off as hollow and forced, particularly in light of Microsoft’s recent policy reversals in response to consumer complaints and concerns. It also came off as ungracious and unsporting, especially in light of how well Microsoft has been regarding the competition lately. It seemed that Sony, like a lot of its forum fans, was too concerned with trying to put down the competition to actually try to sell itself on its own merits.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t even the only problem with their presentation style- the speakers that they had were absolutely boring, and their attempts at humor were as bad as Ubisoft’s now legendary Mr. Caffeine or ‘girl wood.’ Unlike Mark Cerny or Kaz Hirai (or former Sony champ Jack Tretton), they had a tendency to drone and ramble, and to lose audience attention. More than anything else, that, coupled with the fact that they were talking about stuff no one cared about, in turn coupled with the fact that they talked about said stuff for far too long, is what undermined this conference.
Other notable announcements from Sony during this period were the announcement that the PS Vita TV is coming to the west this Fall as the PlayStation TV and final details on PS Now, both of which probably endeared themselves to fans and existing consumers of the PlayStation ecosystem.
Really, the issue with Sony’s conference was more about pacing and structure than anything else. Sony started out pretty well, and then completely lost steam for most of the conference, only pulling together in the last 20 minutes to talk about Batman, GTA 5, Metal Gear Solid 5, The Last of Us Remastered, and Uncharted 4. A lot of the issues with this showing could have been resolved if Sony had just trimmed the fat- if instead of going for a bloated 2 hour showing, they’d gone for a leaner hour or hour and a half one instead.
But they didn’t and the end result is, in spite of a lot of great stuff shown, Sony left a bad impression. And as Microsoft has been consistently demonstrating with the Xbox One, a bad impression, even if it is just perceived, tends to stick. Thankfully for Sony, their problems are limited to just their conference alone- the actual content of the conference demonstrated that the PS4 as a console is set for the next couple of years.
The Good: A lot of games were shown off, including Uncharted, Metal Gear Solid, Grand Theft Auto, and Far Cry 4; the announcements of PlayStation TV and PS Now answered some long standing questions about both of those; No Man’s Sky looked amazing
The Bad: Most of the announced games are for 2015; too much padding; poor presentation style riddled with forced humor and unnecessary potshots at the competition; an inordinate focus on movies, TV, media, and apps; the complete cold shouldering of the PS Vita
The Verdict: A lot of the issues with this showing could have been resolved if Sony had just trimmed the fat- if instead of going for a bloated 2 hour showing, they’d gone for a leaner hour or hour and a half one instead. But they didn’t and the end result is, in spite of a lot of great stuff shown, Sony left a bad impression.
FINAL SCORE: 8/10