Vapourware became just… well… ware at Sony's E3 press conference last night.
The Last Guardian kicked off the event, while long rumoured (and even longer demanded) titles such as a Final Fantasy VII remake and Shenmue III sent fans into meltdown.
There were some other promising titles shown, too. Including a bizarre Media Molecule-developed title called Dreams, a beautiful Uncharted 4 demonstration and the indie game Firewatch.
However, outside of big third-party partnerships, there was a lack of content for 2015.
But enough from us, what did the games industry think about it all?
Gavin Price, the head of Playtonic, whose Yooka Laylee game just passed 2m, felt it was a strong performance.
Like Microsoft, Sony had a good conference but for different reasons,” he said.
Microsoft had a great show for Xbox fans whereas Sony seemed to be aiming for all previous gen customers still yet to upgrade to the latest consoles - and their sales pitch was a good one.Shenmue 3 is going to be a major deciding factor for many gamers upgrading from PS3 and XBOX 360 plus the courtship of big third party games like Star Wars Battlefront and the next Call of Duty could sway that uptake further in their favour.Sony's first party offering seemed varied but a little light for this calendar year, but their third party line-up acknowledges that and is strong.”
Sony's first party offering seemed varied but a little light for this calendar year, but their third party line-up acknowledges that and is strong.”
- Gavin Price, Playtonic
Andy Tudor, the creative lead at Project CARS developer Slightly Mad Studios, felt Sony edged it when it came to its E3 showcase.
Sony started the show though in the best possible way by showing Last Guardian - everyone had been wondering what had happened to it and it was great to see it running although maybe not as next-gen looking as everyone might have expected it to look by now. Horizon Zero Dawn was an example of a perfect showing - great cinematic trailer leading directly into gameplay in a post-apocalyptic world that genuinely managed to differentiate itself from others. It kinda felt like The Witcher meets The Lost World with robot dinos.
No Man's Sky continues to look impressive although maybe a more scripted on-stage demo might have answered the many questions we had going into the conference. But it was the announcement of Final Fantasy VII Remake and Shenmue III that blew the lid off the hall - huge fan service and huge reasons to get a PS4 if you haven't got one already. Finishing with Uncharted 4 sealed the deal.
So overall comparing the two it felt like there were maybe more reasons to buy a PS4 this year: more game exclusives and partnerships on Call Of Duty and Disney Infinity 3.0, and services like music and TV. Xbox in comparison had a strong lineup of games – although many will be multi-platform. In both cases though, the war for VR is definitely on.”
"It was the announcement of Final Fantasy VII Remake
and Shenmue III that blew the lid off the hall."
- Andy Tudor, Slightly Mad Studios
Garry Williams from Sold Out feels that journalists declaring Sony as E3 winners are suffering from anti-Microsoft bias, and indeed, SuperData's Joost Van Dreunen was also relatively unimpressed by what PlayStation had to show.
Sony's E3 conference fell a bit flat in the absence of more details on its VR effort, especially in comparison to Microsoft,” he told MCV.
Sony's title announcements were good and as expected focused on sequels. In terms of new titles Sony new IP seems bold but, with the exception of The Last Guardian, Im not convinced most of it will resonate with a mainstream audience.”
The lack of VR focus is something noted by IHS' Piers Harding-Rolls.
Sony has high hopes for its VR headset but the company did not take the opportunity to hit home what could be a key upcoming differentiator to Microsoft suggesting that plans for Morpheus are far from being finalised. Granted VR content is a challenge to show on a press event stage but more could easily have been made of how the launch content for the headset is shaping up.
While Microsoft is playing around the edges of the VR market, agreeing partnerships with minimal risk to support its Windows 10 Xbox Live strategy, Sony is placing a significant bet that VR technology will help drive appeal for the PS4 mid-cycle. To do that it needs content, and at the press event it failed to deliver a compelling launch vision for Morpheus as it stands.”
Sony's E3 conference fell a bit flat in the
absence of more details on its VR effort."
- Joost Van Dreunen, SuperData
Harding-Rolls also noted that Sony didn't do a lot to broaden out PlayStation content, although suggested this may be because E3 is not really the place for that kind of messaging.
Sony entered E3 with a commanding lead over Microsoft in terms of installed base of for the latest consoles, PS4 and Xbox One,” he noted.
As such, Sony are likely to attempt to broaden its audience messaging at an earlier stage than Xbox. As it was, Sony did show more family oriented games content at its press event – an exclusive PS4 pack for Disney Infinity 3.0 for example - and announced further expansion of its live TV offering - PlayStation Vue - but these were side notes to the traditional gamer offering. It is likely that Sony will look for other events during 2015 to begin to broaden its messaging more significantly and instead opted to offset Microsoft's strong press conference earlier in the day with its own collection of games exclusives.”
Yet, despite some detractors, the overall response from developers and publishers was one overwhelming positivity.
PS4 has everything I want from a console: huge blockbuster adventures - both new and continued IP - and completely new ideas,” says James Marsden of indie developer Futurlab.
Honestly, I was very impressed by the Microsoft conference, but Sony's event was astonishing. It's a great time to be in the games business. E3 brings it all into sharp focus and gives me a warm feeling of pride to be a part of it.
Considering its PlayStation's commitment to innovation and creativity that excites me the most, Dreams was the star of Sony's E3 show. The potential there for inspiring young creators is astonishing.
I was also humming the theme tune to Horizon whilst I was riding into work this morning.”
"Dreams was the star of Sony's E3 show.
The potential there for inspiring young creators is astonishing."
- James Marsden, Futurlab
Mastertronic boss Andy Payne concurs: I think Sony have made their position clear and are ensuring that they deliver games for gamers. They have outsold Xbox One consistently and have demonstrated that they are open to working with all developers and publishers. Their performance was assured and solid. Microsoft had a lot to make up, which they did.
"We are now seeing phase two of the battle between Playstation and Xbox play out and it is only great news for gamers and developers.”
Simon Byron, the publishing boss of Curve Digital, was generally delighted by both the performance of Microsoft and Sony. Particularly in relation to their support for indies.
"Following the last couple of E3s, it was brilliant to get back to ba