Last year, Sony’s E3 press conference was legendary- and it really was, anyone who tries to tell you otherwise is not thinking straight, in objective, unbiased terms. It was the perfect conference, extremely well paced, with some stunning, world shattering reveals of games that most people had never assumed would ever actually exist. Sony’s press conference was incredible enough that they were crowned the ‘winners’ of E3 unanimously and everywhere, and their press conference went down in the annals of E3 history as one of the very best, if not the best.
The problem only became apparent in hindsight– yes, Sony had ‘won’ E3, and they had had a hell of a conference- but they had done so on the basis of software and games that literally would not exist for years to on after the initial announcement. The evidence of this is to be found in the fact that, one year after that initial conference, not one single new game that was announced or revealed at the conference by Sony – not The Last Guardian, not Horizon Zero Dawn, not Dreams, not Final Fantasy 7 Remake, and not Shenmue 3 – have been released yet. The Last Guardian and Dreams are both slated for later this year, to be fair, but most of the headline making announcements, including Horizon, Final Fantasy, and Shenmue, are now delayed into next year- or beyond, in some cases.
The problem is, this isn’t even something that is new for Sony- the company has made it a habit to announce software at its shows that is sometimes so far away from release, and so early into development, that the games never end up releasing. Remember The Getaway? Remember Gran Turismo 5? How about Agent? Or Final Fantasy Versus 13, which is only now, ten years later, actually getting a release? Do you remember The Last Guardian, which was actually originally announced in 2009, the game that we celebrated getting another re-reveal last year without being given a definite release date?
Or how about simply looking at the unveil event Sony held for the PS4? Games such as Knack and Killzone managed to hit their release dates, yes, but most of the games that the company showed off at the presser – including inFamous: Second Son, The Order: 1886 and DriveClub – were games that got delayed.
"Sony become so enthusiastic to generate hype around their product, to ‘win’ whatever event they are at that they are perfectly content with showing products that literally don’t even exist yet. "
It is endemic to their very nature, in other words, to show off software far too early, to discuss games that are sometimes not even in development (which is why we get instances like Agent, or the PSP ports of The Elder Scrolls Oblivion and Devil May Cry). Sony become so enthusiastic to generate hype around their product, to ‘win’ whatever event they are at that they are perfectly content with showing products that literally don’t even exist yet.
However, never before has this been as apparent, and as detrimental, as last year. As mentioned before, a year later, not one single game that they debuted at the event has released yet, and they actually took the stage to announce a game that hadn’t even begun development yet, that didn’t even have funds yet– via the Shenmue 3 segment of their keynote, of course.
Something like this can lead to short term hype and anticipation, of course, because if Sony were to come on stage next week and show off a PS4 exclusive Crash Bandicoot game, that would then not release for three years- in the here and now, they would ‘win’ E3. People would be far too busy tripping over themselves in their excitement to actually temper their hype with the sobering realization that almost none of the games that had been announced had any dates attached to them- and that for others, there was still Sony’s history of delays and missed deadlines to contend with.
Which leads me to my current point, my current request to Sony- this year, I think they would do well if they actually only stuck to announcing products and games that consumers will be able to get their hands on within the next year or so. Regardless of the nature of announcements Sony makes at their event, I can’t say I would care too much otherwise. It wouldn’t matter to me if Sony showed off a new Crash or even Half Life 3 at their event, unless there was an actual concrete release date attached to it, and that release date wasn’t much beyond a year in the future- because otherwise, for all I know, I’ll still be waiting for the games they showcased this time next year.
"Sony’s propensity to announce games that have only begun development, or in many cases not even that, is a tendency that needs to be curbed."
Sony, then, need to change the way they approach E3, and indeed, any press event or announcement- I can understand the case for missed deadlines that can happen during development, because game development is a mammoth undertaking, and no one can ever account for every possible thing that may go wrong during it. Something like the repeated delays that Uncharted 4 suffered does not offend me- but on the other hand, Sony’s propensity to announce games that have only begun development, or in many cases not even that, is a tendency that needs to be curbed.
In that regard, they need to start taking leaves from Nintendo, Microsoft, and even Bethesda’s books- Nintendo are refusing to show any game this year that will not strictly come out within the next 12 months. To their own detriment, it can be argued, but the point stands. Microsoft largely showed off games and services last year at E3 that we got within the following year. And Bethesda are now legendary for showing off a game and then releasing it within the same year- they did it with Skyrim and they did it with Fallout 4 last year
That is the kind of timeline from game announcement to release that Sony need to be looking at for their products. Simultaneously this would also solve their problem of early announcements- because games would only be revealed and shown off when they are very close to release, instead of when they are years (and in some cases, a decade) out from launch. If Sony show off loads of great products at E3 this year, and give them actual concrete release dates or at least release windows, ones a year os so beyond their E3 showing, then I will be able to bring myself to actually care about their announcements. Otherwise, I’m afraid I won’t be able to have much of an interest in their show, beyond an objective appreciation for their ability to pull the same trick, and pull wool over the eyes of their audiences, over and over again, year after year.
Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, GamingBolt as an organization.