PlayStation Experience 2017 was a major disappointment.
Sony has had a great year in 2017. The PS4, now in its fifth year, has continued to exhibit year on year growth, showing no signs of slowing down or stopping; Sony’s services offerings continue to generate obscene amounts of money; software sales are at an all time high; PlayStation VR has found its footing after a shaky start; and the lineup of games and exclusives on the PS4 this year was nothing short of legendary.
Interestingly enough, there has been one area where Sony has sort of faltered this year, which has been their live shows and conferences. Sony is supposed to be the master of these, using these to rally its fanbase and generate hype for games that are often years away from release. However, this year, they’ve failed on that account multiple times- while I personally enjoyed their E3 showing, it appears I am in a very small minority there, given that most fans didn’t appreciate the lack of big new announcements or concrete release dates. Sony skipped Gamescom, had a scattershot and frankly confused showing at the Tokyo Games Show, had a relatively better, but still standard, conference at Paris Games Week, all of it leading to the PlayStation Experience.
"Interestingly enough, there has been one area where Sony has sort of faltered this year, which has been their live shows and conferences."
The PlayStation Experience was something Sony started a few years ago, as an annual show and event dedicated to PlayStation, and PlayStation alone. Over the last few years, it has grown in stature and esteem, with major third and first party games, including the hugely anticipated The Last of Us Part 2, being announced for the very first time at the event. All of which is to say, Sony has conditioned its fanbase to expect big things at the PlayStation Experience. And while Sony initially made it very clear that this year’s event was going to be a smaller scale event, posts made on the PlayStation Blog some time ago explicitly teasing surprises and new announcements got players fired up again- at worst, Sony wouldn’t announce something on the scale of The Last of Us again, but they could still show off some cool new stuff regardless, right? Or hell, there are so many Sony games in the pipeline right now – Days Gone, Spider-Man, The Last of Us, Ghosts of Tsushima – if nothing else, we could at least expect release dates and new trailers and footage for some of them, right?
Even on a diminished scale of expectations such as that, Sony completely and utterly failed last night. While they pulled out some of their games on stage again, we got no new footage, no new announcements regarding release dates or even windows. Major titles like Spider-Man were conspicuous by their absence. Most games had the same footage from Paris Gams Week or E3 regurgitated again. The biggest new announcement Sony had was a MediEvil remaster, which is truly great- but did they have such a long event that they livestreamed for that?
Worse still was the format Sony chose- eschewing their large scale keynotes, their event last night was more of a talk show, discussing games in development directly with developers. This is, conceptually, a fantastic format, and the kind of thing that can give us insight into what goes into the development of our favorite PlayStation games. Except Sony completely bungled this, too- the hosts seem disinterested, the pacing was entirely out of sync, and we didn’t actually learn anything new from what was said.
"So, for those keeping count: terribly executed format, little in the way of new announcements, no new footage for already announced games, no new release dates announced or confirmed. This brings me back to- exactly why did Sony feel it was necessary to have a showing at all?"
So, for those keeping count: terribly executed format, little in the way of new announcements, no new footage for already announced games, no new release dates announced or confirmed. This brings me back to- exactly why did Sony feel it was necessary to have a showing at all? They could just as well have held PSX with the actual show floor, panels, and the like, without having a ‘main event’. People would have been disappointed, but I honestly feel it would have gone down better than last night’s showing did.
Because PSX is supposed to be the cap to Sony’s year, and set the tone for the coming one- and last night’s event was a terrible capstone to what has otherwise been a fantastic year. Yes, we know major games are coming- but when? And why have there not been many new announcements? Sony has been bringing the same set of games to events for the last few years now.
If Sony hadn’t spread out their announcements and reveals across four separate events this year, and instead focused on only one or two, it would have gone so much better for them. Imagine, for a minute, that Sony had skipped Paris Games Week- then this year at PSX, they would have been able to announce Ghosts of Tsushima, have had new trailers for Detroit and Spider-Man, among other things, and been able to end by showing another new Last of Us trailer- already a far better keynote than what we got.
"Sony cannot reasonably be expected to have megaton announcements across four different events every year. That’s fine. I understand that, and I am sure most of their fans do, too. But what Sony does need to do then is understand that there is no obligation for it to have four events a year either."
And I think that’s the main takeaway here. Sony cannot reasonably be expected to have megaton announcements across four different events every year. That’s fine. I understand that, and I am sure most of their fans do, too. But what Sony does need to do then is understand that there is no obligation for it to have four events a year either. Going forward, I am hoping that their poor showing last night, and fans’ general dissatisfaction with E3 this year, will inform how they approach these events- which is to say, have fewer events, and pack each of them with more new material. I think that is what will please fans the most in the long run.
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