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Sony's E3 2013 Press Briefing: A Stone Cold Stunner

If there was a thing you wanted Sony to do at today's press event, they probably did it.

That was a hell of a thing to watch.

We've seen the box, seen more games, and gotten the price. Hard to argue with any of what we saw, really.
We've seen the box, seen more games, and gotten the price. Hard to argue with any of what we saw, really.

After a day of mostly expected, occasionally exciting, as often disappointing announcements from Microsoft and various third-party publishers, I was all settled in, expecting Sony to maybe have a few fun new things to show. I didn't expect anything too garish. I didn't expect to be bowled over. I didn't expect much surprise. I sure as hell didn't expect what I got.

Instead of just another half-enthusiastic press event, Sony came to E3 looking for a fight. Early on the tone was set for something pretty great, but by the time we hit the halfway point, it almost looked like Sony was actively mocking Microsoft's tepid announcements and various system-related controversies. And that was before Sony actually started mocking Microsoft quite directly for all those things and then some.

Sony showed confidence at tonight's press event. It showed swagger, awareness of its own audience, and, most importantly, games. Man, did it ever show a whole bunch of games. Even if you didn't love every single one of them, I'd be amazed if you couldn't find at least one or two in there to get a little bit excited about.

Sure, things started out a bit slow. Jack Tretton was quick to promote the Vita and and the PS3, showing off a couple of new things (Walking Dead on Vita), as well as some games we already knew about, like Tearaway for the Vita, and The Last of Us and Beyond: Two Souls for PS3. That last one was a particularly odd demo, showing the lead character played by Ellen Page in some heavy CIA training that looked more evocative of something like Zero Dark Thirty. Presumably, that game is still about ghosts and stuff.

Transistor was one of several noteworthy indie games to come out heavily in favor of the PlayStation platform.
Transistor was one of several noteworthy indie games to come out heavily in favor of the PlayStation platform.

But once the PS4 stuff kicked in, it didn't let up. After a bit of brief house-cleaning regarding video apps (you may be shocked to learn that there will be video apps), the games just started flowing. Solid trailers for known quantities like inFamous: Second Son, DriveClub, and Killzone: Shadow Fall, were joined by Ready at Dawn's steampunky looking shooter The Order: 1886, a new game that unfortunately only had a CG trailer (albeit kind of a cool looking one). Third-party games like Destiny, Watch_Dogs, Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, and Elder Scrolls Online got lengthy, mostly impressive demos (unfortunately, the AC IV build crapped out part of the way through), while Square Enix managed to bowl over the entire audience with trailers for Final Fantasy XV (formerly known as Final Fantasy Versus XIII) and, believe it or not, Kingdom Hearts III. Hell, we even found out WBIE and Avalanche Studios are making a goddamn Mad Max game. Who saw that one coming?

There was an incredibly strong indie presence as well, kicked off by Supergiant Games coming out to introduce Transistor, which will debut on the PS4, as well as PC. Other indie titles now exclusively headed to Sony platforms (on consoles, anyway) include Octodad: Dadliest Catch, Don't Starve, Outlast, and Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee New N' Tasty. These announcements were made in tandem with Sony unveiling its indie self-publishing initiative, which will allow indie studios to bring their games to the PlayStation Store free of any publisher deal nonsense.

That announcement joined several others that gave the impression Sony had been listening to criticism directed toward the Xbox One. People were already high on all the game demos when Tretton returned to confirm that the PS4 would feature none of the restrictive DRM features Microsoft planned to employ with its new console. Online checks would not be required to play single-player games offline, nor would there be any restrictions on used, disc-based games. All this culminated in the price announcement: $399.99 in North America, $100 less than Microsoft's $499 Xbox One price point. Sony's only negative news--the revelation that multiplayer gaming would be folded into the PlayStation Plus subscription service--was mostly offset by the volume of additional game content coming to Plus subscribers, as well as the news that other net-based media services wouldn't be locked behind the paywall.

I didn't care an iota about Destiny prior to today's conference, but the demo shown during the event finally got me on board.
I didn't care an iota about Destiny prior to today's conference, but the demo shown during the event finally got me on board.

Given all of this, it's hard to look at Sony's press conference as anything other than an exceptionally brutal blow to any momentum Microsoft had at this point. Where Microsoft appeared monolithic and generally unconcerned with currying any additional favor with consumers or developers, Sony looked fluid, adaptable, and self-aware. It showed a variety of games that spanned genres, tones, and scopes, offering a little something for everyone.

By all means, the PlayStation 4 could still find ways to disappoint consumers--not all of those games are going to turn out to be great, obviously. But in terms of what you would want from a console maker's E3 press presentation, Sony absolutely knocked it out of the park, and it did so by simply demonstrating a strong understanding of what its consumers would conceivably want, rather than just assuming that consumers will take whatever it feels like giving them.

Alex Navarro on Google+
283 CommentsRefresh

Avatar image for cubical
Edited By Cubical

I still wanted a Jak and Daxter and a wipeout game.

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Posted By funtimeben

@gildermershina: I like that SONY responds to Microsofts fans complains, while Microsoft generally ignores them until it effects their bottom line.

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Posted By crazygamer19

are we gonna able to play ps3 games in ps4?

Avatar image for garbill
Edited By garbill

i think xbox one will be better than ps4

Avatar image for owlmassive
Edited By owlmassive

I watched the confrence on my iphone in the early hours of the morning when jack tretton announced about having no restrictions i felt like a noob because i was cheering with the crowd!

Avatar image for jcgamer
Posted By JCGamer

I had never seen a more "screw you" from one large company to another in any press conference ever and it was amazing.

Avatar image for enigma_2099
Edited By Enigma_2099

I want a Sony hits Microsoft with a stunner gif to go with this article.

Avatar image for daneian
Posted By Daneian

This entire thing really reminds me of the PSX price announcement at the first e3 in '95, where Sony spanked Sega and the Saturn.

Jump to 3:15 to watch the drama unfold.

Loading Video...

Avatar image for sarahsdad
Edited By sarahsdad

@twelve1784: haven't heard about trading digital games, that could be interesting. Was thinking more of an interview I read in GI about PS4's store where it sounded like publishers/debs would have a lot of fine grained control over prices. Makes me think that Sony assumes that amount of control will encourage them to be more flexible with pricing, which would lead to more digital copies sold, which makes concerns over sales lost to used games less of an issue. Lots of hypothetical stuff in there, will be interesting to see how it all shakes out.

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Edited By Jonnyflash80

Microsoft DRM bullshit aside, the one thing that has me switching from the XBox camp to the PS4 is the $100 price difference. I mean that is a huge price gap between the two consoles. All because Microsoft has invested so much into Kinect that they can't back out now, so they feel they have to include it with the new console. What gets me is they are charging $100 extra for a peripheral that the majority of gamers out there never actually wanted or gave a damn about. If they are so invested in Kinect, where are all the games that take advantage of it. I only saw a few Kinect enabled titles out of all the E3 game trailers that have been posted so far. I find it strange that MS is pushing this peripheral on people without having games for it at launch.

The only way Microsoft can recover from this is to offer a XBone SKU at the $399 price point that doesn't include the Kinect, and to loosen it's DRM policies. But maybe it's too late at this point. I'm still getting a PS4 no matter what now. You done fucked up Microsoft.

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Edited By Jesel

I'm going to wait in line to buy one just because this press conference was so ballsy

Avatar image for bigskeng
Edited By bigskeng

i've pretty much been gaming exclusively on the original xbox and then the 360 these last few years. i've loved the machines, despite their flaws, and they've given me who knows how many hours of enjoyment (i still use the 360 regularly).

this satisfaction lead me to eagerly anticipate the next iteration of the xbox, but damn microsoft for being microsoft. alex basically sums up everything right here:

Sony absolutely knocked it out of the park, and it did so by simply demonstrating a strong understanding of what its consumers would conceivably want, rather than just assuming that consumers will take whatever it feels like giving them.

while i will wait til the dust settles before i purchase a new console, right now my money's leaning towards japan.

Avatar image for aarny91
Posted By Aarny91

Honestly the best E3 presentation I've seen in years.

Avatar image for xaviersx
Posted By Xaviersx

As with the Wii and people's thoughts on its future, I'll still take a wait and see approach on the product, at launch and well after before evaluating the actual worth, but it's nice to know Sony has confidence in presentation at E3. As long as no one said next generation doesn't start until we say it does, both of these companies with money from side markets can remain entrenched in staying in the game, heck, if nothing else Microsoft might try actually making PC gaming more visible if Sony starts to eat its console lunch.

Avatar image for ua_the_milkman
Edited By UA_The_Milkman

I'm so glad that i'm a PC gamer.

Avatar image for voysa_reezun
Posted By Voysa_Reezun

Well, I'm getting a PS4.

Avatar image for tourgen
Edited By tourgen

No mention in the discussion of the very real difference in computing power of the two systems. Now that the architecture is nearly identical it is a real factor. 32mb of cache is no substitute for real memory bandwidth let alone being 2 cores down on the competition.

Oh right. The Cloud. LOL

Avatar image for tordah
Edited By Tordah

Well, I'll be damned. I might just have to go with Sony this generation unless Microsoft can promise me flying unicorns and rainbows.

Avatar image for dezztroy
Edited By Dezztroy

So the used-game crybabies got their way after all? Great.

Avatar image for cybexx
Edited By Cybexx

Pre-ordered my PS4 this morning. Adam Boyes's indie presentation is what won my over, it was really a stark contrast to the Xbox One presentation (Below looks awesome though). I was sold from that point, the other games, disc DRM policy and price were just gravy after that.

Avatar image for tourgen
Posted By tourgen

@ohms: Yes, seeing those guys onstage was awesome. They're living the dream. It's also great to see one of the big console makers acknowledging the powerhouse indie games are becoming. The tools are getting good. More people will be doing this.

Avatar image for sgt_waffles
Posted By sgt_waffles

@alex "I didn't care an iota about Destiny prior to today's conference, but the demo shown during the event finally got me on board."

This. And I found myself surprised at how on board I actually was after watching the demo...

Avatar image for amyggen
Posted By AMyggen

I won't pre order the PS4, just because I never buy a console at launch. But holy shit did they kick MS' ass.

Avatar image for hellknightleon
Edited By HellknightLeon

I cared so little after all the XBox bull shit, and with my awesome PC snug next to me as I watched Sony do its thing I was happy... but as the shit got real I pushed my PC away and jumped up and said "aaaaaa snap".

Thank you PS... I love you again like this was PS 1 days. Will I get one... we will see... odds... hell yes. XD

Avatar image for thewu_tangbaby
Posted By TheWu_TangBaby

sony destroyed microsoft this year

Avatar image for bombzinski
Edited By Bombzinski

Oh wow. Not that I'm planning to get a new console any time soon, but good for Sony. Hope it works out for them.

Avatar image for kosayn
Edited By Kosayn

Having to switch discs... that most taxing of first world gamer problems.

I wonder if we will see a multi blu ray game at any point. It seems like their huge capacity plus the ability to download large patches has eliminated the possibility.

Avatar image for cikame
Edited By cikame

There are a few 3rd party games people could have been reminded will also be on ps4, games like MGS5.
Last gen i got a 360 because of the great games and much lower price point, it took me just over 5 years to get a ps3 and finally play its great exclusives like MGS4 and funky releases like Tokyo Jungle and Journey. Metal Gear Solid is on both systems now and most of the other main games are coming to PC aswell which, provided they get good ports, i'm happy about.
So which system do i get MGS5 for, the more expensive, Kinect embedded, smartglass obsessed, DRM lawyer that is the xbox, or the apparently nice, simple and tidy ps4?

So far i'm leaning towards Sony, but my common sense is telling me to wait and see which one has malfunctions or laggy versions of games first.

Avatar image for tumbler
Posted By Tumbler

With all the talk of "Sony will have all the same DRM" coming from the gaming press I had basically written off the PS4 and Xbone. Was already planning my next gaming PC then Sony comes out and offers a system at the right price without all these stupid restrictions.

Pre-ordered on Amazon the instant I heard this. Then realized I have that sony credit card and I can earn a butt load of points on the sony store for using it there. They had 2 day shipping offered free as well so I pre-ordered there. Told my wife about it this morning and she chewed me out for ruining fathers day! So I technically have 3 of these pre-ordered.

Avatar image for joey_ravn
Edited By JoeyRavn

I guess that Sony has "won" E3 and probably this generation. But I just can't care about Sony... I can't even like the new DualShock (not that I ever liked the awkwardly-position thumbsticks of the previous DualShocks...). I'm sticking with PC + Wii U + 3DS this gen. At least, until Sony decides to cut the price on the PS4. Then, I'll see if I can care.

Avatar image for lind_l_taylor
Edited By Lind_L_Taylor

Unless Microsoft shapes up, I'm predicting the Xbone will be shipped directly to an Alamogordo, New Mexico landfill, by the millions, to join that 1982 Atari 2600 rendition of "ET".

Avatar image for luck702
Edited By Luck702

Funny how inverted everything is compared to the 2005 press conferences. This time, Microsoft's showing their hubris, and Sony is attempting to woo consumers and developers like their lives depended on it. Yesterday was pretty exciting.

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Posted By DxBecks

@oy said:

Did I wake up in some alt universe where online play is bad and slow loading discs are good? Did we even see the same show? Sony is competing with WiiU. MS is competing with Steam and Apple. NO JOKE.

If you want the quicker load times of video games installed on a hard-drive compared to a disc, you can download video games from Playstation Network similar to Steam, or possibly install a disc to the hard-drive like you could on the Xbox 360. However if you want a physical disc to lend to friends, sell, or keep you can do that too with no restrictions on the Playstation 4. Additionally you can play offline as much as you want. You can have the best of both worlds and choose which one you prefer, on the Xbox One Microsoft is making that decision for you and making physical discs nothing more than a way to avoid slow internet download speeds.

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Posted By LiquidPrince

@ei8htbit: The PS3 and Vita stuff was barely a quarter of the show. They announced some stuff quickly, then mentioned the video apps, then the rest was all PS4 stuff.

Avatar image for mrbang
Posted By MrBang
Avatar image for oginor
Posted By OGinOR

@eloj:

Please explain how "doing more" interferes with your gaming? If anything, as was apparent during the SmartGlass demo, the "doing more" only improves it. (Sony is going to allow me to matchmake on-the-fly while playing a different single-player game and then switch back and forth instantaneously? Nah...)

And again, what Kool-Aid? MS showed me next gen, they showed me persistent, connected worlds and they showed me a new way to look at "AI". Sony? They showed me a bunch of games I can also play on the Xbox One while also enjoying the rest of what MS has bundled together.

Avatar image for falcomadol
Posted By FalcomAdol

The other thing I'm not clear on is what the console makers mean what they say "self publish."

Does self publish mean there won't be any TCRs, that it's the wild wild west on updates and prices are whatever you want and changeable on a dime? If Microsoft says "no self publishing" does that mean that they are acting as the publisher for games that aren't coming out of a third party (i.e. taking a cut of the price and possibly surfacing the games in advertisements or sales?)

They could totally be talking in opposite directions with the media hearing whatever they want to.

Avatar image for mrbang
Edited By MrBang

It's funny, what people call "adaptable" I call "desperation" everything in sony's conference seemed a desperate reach for any fans that were pissed off for reasons they aren't even totally sure about. My console is connected to the Internet EVERYDAY ( because I have the "Internet".....duh) used games are bullshit (really think about it) and I seriously couldn't care less about physical media. Sony might seem smart and savy, but to me it just came off as shallow, desperate and showed a willingness to ignore future business models and hamper progression. Besides, what games did Sony show again......o ya......another final fantasy.....yay ):

Avatar image for mrbang
Edited By MrBang

It's funny, what people call "adaptable" I call "desperation" everything in sony's conference seemed a desperate reach for any fans that were pissed off for reasons they aren't even totally sure about. My console is connected to the Internet EVERYDAY ( because I have the "Internet".....duh) used games are bullshit (really think about it) and I seriously couldn't care less about physical media. Sony might seem smart and savy, but to me it just came off as shallow, desperate and showed a willingness to ignore future business models and hamper progression. Besides, what games did Sony show again......o ya......another final fantasy.....yay ):

Avatar image for wikitoups
Posted By Wikitoups
Avatar image for falcomadol
Posted By FalcomAdol

@djou said:

@matoyak: It will be impossible for every game to implement a fee, only if it has multiplayer. I imagine it will be like its now at worst an online pass fee.

My console that I stream the Daily Show on does not.

I constantly deal with weird graphics issues, driver updates, game crashes, keyboard rebinds. I'd gladly pay a bit more for convenience.

Used games don't affect me at all, but it used to. I got into gaming because I was a poor kid who bought used and traded my carts to get better ones. That's a legacy I don't want to put behind a paywall or connectivity requirement.

Sounds like the "used game fee" is not borne by the users anyway, it's between the retailers and publishers. The entire system of account verification is established to ensure that once someone else starts using a license key, you can't use it anymore.

It doesn't need to be online, unless you want to actually stream the Daily Show to it.

Yeah, it's pretty shady that you can easily buy games on Steam that your system is just too new to play or totally incompatible with. Some games just won't play on ATI hardware (primarily Xbox era games with a PC version, some functions were written for Nvidia cards specifically), others won't play on anything new because they're GLIDE based. Constantly testing every configuration and so forth would certainly be an impossible mission but with no recourse for "returning" the game, it kind of sucks.

I'm another one that hasn't bought a used game in several years. Buying used shorts the developers, it is anti-developer. The used game market is also predatory towards users who buy and sell in that market where the prices are basically set by a monopolist (Gamestop). No used games means that new games have to drop in price faster, because that price drop is how you get penetration into the wider customer base. The availability of used games props up the price of new games, and the stickiness of new game prices is allowing users to be boned by Gamestop selling you the same title for 5 bucks less than a NIB one (and 10 dollars more than Amazon).

I don't know, I'm not feeling good about the entire state of gaming right now, maybe in part because there's not enough information. I feel like everyone is telling half the truth (or less).

Avatar image for aquacadet
Posted By aquacadet

I wish I were with the rest of the internet thinking it was some huge blowout:

  • Being $100 cheaper (less if you get the camera)
  • timed exclusives on some indie games
  • a few platform exclusive games (none of which grabbed me as much as titanfall)
  • no phoning home every day (and thus the ability to play games off the disc)

All great points, but I still think I'm not 100% sold on that being my platform of choice.

Avatar image for falcomadol
Posted By FalcomAdol

Jack Treton just said DRM is up to the publisher, I dunno if that means just for online games or for offline to.

Not surprising, they also indicated that there was no region locking on PS4, turns out that it's just like the 360 and PS3, region locking is per title and at the discretion of the publisher (Ubisoft and Microsoft games generally weren't locked on 360, EA and Activision generally were).

I've also heard a lot of media types indicating that the Xbox stuff is worse than steam. Steam's DRM scheme is pretty damn intrusive if you use more than one device. If you go on vacation or something it is really easy to find yourself locked out of your games on your laptop, and there has always been the option for publishers to layer additional DRM stuff on top of Steam's (Ubisoft in particular, but there are games with GFW Live in them too from Take2 and Warner).

Right now we have the Headline lies from both groups, in the next week we'll get the retractions and clarifications.

Avatar image for djou
Edited By djou

@matoyak: It will be impossible for every game to implement a fee, only if it has multiplayer. I imagine it will be like its now at worst an online pass fee.

I do buy on Steam, actually I'm primarily a PC gamer nowadays and rarely (if ever buy used) and I still preordered. Console gaming and PC gaming aren't the same in terms of fees and barrier to entry. I gladly deal with Steam's DRM because of the game pricing, lack of subscription fee, and free to play games, but I would never accept that from consoles. My PC always must be online because I use it for work. My console that I stream the Daily Show on does not.

As I see it my options are to upgrade my GPU at the end of this year (a $200-300 investment to move beyond what I own) or get a PS4. My PS3 which I primarily use for blu-ray and media streaming is a launch console and on its last legs. So by upgrading rightaway I can stretch out its use and shift my PC back to work use. Yes, its a console investment, games will cost more, be on sale less, but PC gaming is not an unassailable perk. I constantly deal with weird graphics issues, driver updates, game crashes, keyboard rebinds. I'd gladly pay a bit more for convenience.

Used games don't affect me at all, but it used to. I got into gaming because I was a poor kid who bought used and traded my carts to get better ones. That's a legacy I don't want to put behind a paywall or connectivity requirement. Out of all this next gen hoopla Sony has is the only company so far that has come out and openly say "we're trying to make it easy to play games," Nintendo, Steam, MS, none of them have stepped up to the plate. It remains to be seen if they can follow through, but if appealing to the gaming audience can't win at least a little enthusiasm then why bother playing games at all?

Avatar image for commandergermanshepard
Edited By CommanderGermanShepard

Jack Treton just said DRM is up to the publisher, I dunno if that means just for online games or for offline to.

Avatar image for oginam
Edited By Oginam

@nofzac said:

@devilgunman said:

@nofzac said:

I will say that the $499 MS price looks too high right now, but there have been rumors for weeks that they will offer a subsidy for 2 year XBL contracts. I wouldnt be surprised if they launch with a $399 w/ 2 year XBL agreement price point.

I'm 100% certain at this point that it has been proven false. There was no point for MS to hold anything back in their announcement especially if it's positive. If MS didn't announce subsidized price yesterday (they didn't even give a hint), it means there is no such thing.

See - i disagree with this. I think they dont show all their cards until they know what Sony is doing. This is how Sony was able to capitalize on the whole Used Game fiasco and price point so well.

Closer to launch they announce a $200 subsidy (or potentially even less) and that will get them the install base they want. Sony can't possibly undercut that during the holidays, so mainstream gamers will pick up the cheaper of the two like its a new phone and be content.

Avatar image for nofzac
Posted By nofzac

@eloj said:

@oginor said:

@eloj: At which point, I should have just bought the better Xbox One since I won't be trading or giving away that digital copy and it will have to authenticate online. Now are you getting it? Sony lags behind MS in terms of service offerings here..no Skype, no SmartGlass (unless I buy a Vita), no Twitch, no fantasy sports, no TV, no amazing cloud integration (Gaikai streaming is nice, but we aren't talking about actual cloud-processing integration like Forza 5).

No, I'm not getting it, I can't relate to anyone who thinks "fantasy sports" is a selling point for a console. All that is just random crap that would interfere with playing games.

But I can tell from the way you wax lyrical about "cloud processing" that you're deep into the Kool-Aid. You're a marketers dream.

^^This.

I dont see why so many people want to give up 1/3 of their screen for non-Yahoo Fantasy Stats (who knows how long it will take to configure point settings or if you have to set everything up with a Microsoft-specific service. I have a tablet that gives me real-time updates for my league. "Cloud Computing" lol. anything can be called cloud computing. Google SETI screensaver - they beat MS by a decade.

Avatar image for chrystolis
Edited By Chrystolis

I'd been debating simply going the full PC route this gen, but this conference made me strongly reconsider that. This console is looking damn sharp.