If E3 is an ’80 movie soundtrack, last year Sony’s theme song was Kenny Loggin’s “Danger Zone.” Along with Microsoft overtaking its dominance in the console market, Sony was also plagued with some high-level security breaches reaching credit cards and other sensitive information on the PlayStation Network. Sony was hard on the defensive, and the big Wonderbook reveal landed with a solid thud. All Sony could go on would be promises of better things to come in the future.
The future is now, however, and Sony’s singing a new tune, because they’re having “The Time of My Life.”
Sony is firmly in the catbird seat this E3. Though the PS4 reveal wasn’t everything the public might have hoped for, it turned out better than the Xbox One: enough information was given to pique interest, but make the public clamor for more. Games were discussed, not TV or sports. And names that had been percolating since E3 2012, Beyond: Two Souls and The Last of Us, resurfaced right in time to make the gamer’s heart go aflutter.
At this year’s E3, while gamers are giving Microsoft the evil eye and looking at Nintendo hoping for the best, gamers are waiting to see nothing but good this year from Sony. Expect Sony to trot out its PS4 as much as possible, showing it off like a man in the throes of a midlife crisis would showroom-floor Maserati or a 22-year-old trophy wife; that is to say, often and prominently. Also expect a heavy push, including possible gameplay demos of both of the aforementioned exclusives and a reveal of PS4 launch titles.
Although Sony has the momentum, the team cannot coast. They’ll have to showcase how they’ve improved since the PS3, including their new PlayStation Network interface. They may want to take a cue from SEGA in the early ’90s, when Super Nintendo entered the fourth-gen race, with their advertising campaign “Genesis Does What Nintendon’t.” By talking about what makes them different than the Xbox One, Sony will further accentuate the current perception that the Xbox One is not a system for gamers while the PlayStation 4 is; as is the case in many situations, this is easier said than done. Sony will have the challenge of discussing valid differences while not devolving the discussion into a smear campaign.
In the PS Vita court, it won’t nearly get as much love as Nintendo will give its 3DS, but it will still see its fair share of promotion, primarily with what Sony intends to do with the Vita in conjunction with the PS4. Vita has seen success with extrapolated games such as Silent Hill: Book of Memories, Call of Duty: Black Ops: Declassified, and Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation. Likely they will continue this train of interweaving but independent games (as demonstrated with their commitment to Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate this October) while demonstrating the handheld’s interplay with the PS4 in a quasi-Wii U kind of way.
All the cards are in Sony’s favor, but they can biff the whole thing in a variety of ways, including revealing hardcore digital rights management, blocking of used games, or a game registry. The best way to prove the PS4 is not like the XB1 is by making sure you don’t reveal stuff that makes you look like XB1. By that token, revealing it would be bad, but allowing someone to discover it would be worse. Also, Sony could muck the whole thing up if they don’t show the console. It’s improbable, but Sony may not have a prototype to showcase. At least Microsoft showed the XB1, even if it does look like a modernized BetaMax.
Sony has the pole position in the E3 race, and if they play their cards right, they might just be riding on the “Freeway of Love” in the eighth-generation race.
Possible Titles to Keep an Eye Out For: The Last of Us, Beyond: Two Souls, Assassin’s Creed IV, PS4 launch titles, maybe Batman: Arkham Origins (if only to showcase Blackgate).
What They’ll Say: “We’re better than Microsoft. We actually like gamers, and have games for them.”
What Gamers Will Say: “YAY! We are loved!”
What the Intert00bZ Will Say: “Let’s see how Sony has stepped their game up from last year. We haven’t forgotten.”
What Consumers Will Say: “It’s going to be expensive and it’s not backwards-compatible. You better give us a good reason why it’s worth our money.”
Sony’s pre-E3 press conference anchors the pre-E3 MegaMonday at 6pm on Monday, June 10. For constant E3 coverage, keep it locked on GotGame June 10-14.
The Electronic Entertainment Expo will be at the Los Angeles Convention Center June 11-13.