Sony announced yesterday that their E3 plans for this year will be a little different than usual. This year, they have already told us upfront what to expect- while they will showcase indie and third party games, as far as their own games go, the focus will be squarely on four titles: Ghosts of Tsushima, The Last of Us Part 2, Spider-Man, and Death Stranding. In a sense, after their fans professed disappointment with their showings at PSX and E3 last year, this comes off as them managing expectations beforehand- no one will be disappointed at the lack of big announcement if Sony makes it clear there will be none upfront, right? It also sounds like Sony is using the Nintendo style format of focusing on a handful of games, taking a deep dive into them, showing off gameplay footage and features extensively- which is the best way to show games, I feel. On the whole, this sounds like it will be a great showing from Sony this year.
But there is also the consideration of why Sony has chosen to show these four games and not necessarily have any of the kind of megaton announcements that they have come to be known for at this point. There can be several reasons for this. One of the reasons is that, after years of showing games off way too early, leading to long waits for them to come out (such as The Last Guardian and Gran Turismo 5), they have finally take the message to heart and decided to show only games close to release off. Indeed, this is something they explicitly admitted to last year during E3 as well.
The other, and at least equally, if not more so, likely reason is that a lot of Sony’s studios are currently working on games that cannot be revealed- because they are PS5 games, and PS5 itself hasn’t been revealed yet.
"The other, and at least equally, if not more so, likely reason is that a lot of Sony’s studios are currently working on games that cannot be revealed- because they are PS5 games, and PS5 itself hasn’t been revealed yet."
Look, the PS4 is going to be five years old this year, and a PS5 is on the horizon. Even if it is a year and a half or two down the line (which is the latest we can reasonably expect it to come out), games themselves take a very long time to develop now- the development cycle for Horizon and God of War was almost five years each, as an example. This means that as long as Sony wants the early years of the PS5 to have any games at all, their developers need to have started working on them already- or the PS5’s early years will be barer than the PS4’s and PS3’s were.
If most of Sony’s developers and partners are working on PS5 games- the PS5 itself was cleverly alluded to by Sony, when they said they would “not announce any new hardware” this E3- then their games simply cannot be revealed, for multiple reasons. For starters, Sony stands to give away the capabilities of the PS5 by showing off its games before it itself has been revealed. Secondly, it is important to remember that console development itself is always in flux- making any promises about an upcoming, unannounced console, even implied ones, is a very bad idea.
If Sony can’t announce any new games, then, there are little options left for them other than to double down on the games that they have already announced. On that front, Sony’s diligence is beginning to pay off. One of the reasons they have major games coming up for their existing console, even as most of their developers transition to their new one, is because of how many studios Sony has, and how much it invests i first party development- Microsoft, for instance, would have (and has, with Xbox and Xbox 360, both) phased out its support for its existing console entirely in preparation for its upcoming one. Sony, on the other hand, has what might be some of their biggest published games in history – The Last of Us Part 2 and Death Stranding – still due out for the PS4, presumably intended to give the console a nice send off, like how the original Last of Us was used to sunset the PS3.
"It helps that these four games are among the most hyped upcoming ones- The Last of Us 2 is the sequel to one of the most beloved games of all time, Death Stranding is a brand new, no holds barred IP from one of the most respected developers ever, and Spider-Man is going to give us a big budget adaptation of the world’s most beloved superhero."
It helps that these four games are among the most hyped upcoming ones- The Last of Us 2 is the sequel to one of the most beloved games of all time, Death Stranding is a brand new, no holds barred IP from one of the most respected developers ever, and Spider-Man is going to give us a big budget adaptation of the world’s most beloved superhero. Showing these games off for 10-15 minutes each already generates a lot of hype and goodwill. Sony fans needn’t worry, it is clear their E3 this year will be great.
It is also clear that Sony themselves have transitioned into the final part of the PS4’s life now. Presumably, no more major announcements for the console are coming, at least not from Sony themselves. And that’s fine. Between these four games, as well as Days Gone and Dreams, both of which are also major upcoming games for the system, but (likely) neither of which are going to be shown at E3 (maybe being saved for Paris Games Week or PlayStation Experience?), there are enough upcoming major exclusives that even then, Sony will be able to keep the PS4’s relentless lineup of enviable exclusives going, leading right into the PS5.
But all of that happens in the future- for now, we should look forward to the next month, when not only do we get to see more of Spider-Man, but also the first gameplay footage ever for Ghosts of Tsushima, Hideo Kojima’s Death Stranding, and of course, The Last of Us Part 2– many would contend that those latter two, alone, would win Sony E3 by themselves. And really, would those people be wrong in claiming so?
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