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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 Comments

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audiosnow

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Edited By audiosnow

I was completely out of this next gen.

I might be back in.

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Stimpack

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Edited By Stimpack

Bring it on, Alex.

Excellent write-up. You've said what many, including myself, feel. I'm actually rather speechless, even still. I feel a small amount of hope begin to develop in my cynical heart. It's scary, yet wonderful. No matter what the outcome, my interests are piqued. I'm excited for what lies over the horizon. It's already been a damn fine E3.

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TruthTellah

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Edited By TruthTellah

Just a brutal showing today. I'm still somewhat in shock about it.

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yukoasho

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Edited By yukoasho

You know, Alex, normally I have issues with your writing, but looking at this... Yeah. yeah, that's just about right.

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bgdiner

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If my wallet was shut before tonight's press conference, it's now open for business. What a night.

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brihar78

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Only thing showed that would sway my dollars vote was the price, used games and drm I don't care about, will have to see what Microsoft does if anything to counter.

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lordgodalming

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Square Enix is already showing the benefits of ditching Yoichi Wada. The FFXV trailer kicked my ass.

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Tylea002

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Edited By Tylea002

This conference made me realise why E3 is so great. I was so down going into the day, just apathetic on all the video games in all the ways, and watching twitter turn from cynicism to FUCK YEAH about their favourite pastime was glorious.

I'm back in on video games.

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Doomsday65

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After the Sony press conference, I went to Amazon and canceled my Xbox preorder. I will get that next year. I will be getting the PS4 first. I haven't been this jazzed after a press conference in years. Microsoft needs to get it together. There are still games on there I want but they will not be getting my money this year.

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laini

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Edited By laini

I didn't see Sony's conference so not sure what their exclusives are but there's a few Xbox One games I'm interested in. However with everything else the PS4 won't do, like not needed to go online, and being $100 cheaper I don't think there's any question which console I'll be getting first.

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Davvyk

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Edited By Davvyk

I want to love the PS4 but i just do not care about their exclusives like i do Microsoft's.

I do have a PC thought so i probably shouldn't care about Titanfall.

I love Forza

I like Halo

I digg the look of Quantum Break

Ryse looked ok.

Sony's exclusives just didn't grab me but that might just be because ive primarily been a XBOX and PC gamer this last gen.

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shiftplusone

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When they said "20 first party games with 12 of those being original IP" i was sold

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Oscar__Explosion

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Edited By Oscar__Explosion

Kingdom Hearts 3, Final Fantasy XV and Transistor was all I needed to hear. Sorry Mircosoft I'm jumping ship.

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NissanSkyline

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I was going for pc only next gen but you know, the plan has changed

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csl316

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Aw shit, video apps!!

Also, Infamous: Second Son made me buy this system as soon as the price was announced. Sony's been doing great things with first party in recent years so I have faith that this will continue. Having the more powerful system for multiplatform stuff can't hurt, either!

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boss_wreckman

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Makes you wonder if Microsoft reconsiders its strategy after the reaction Sony got. I'm probably jumping ship if I buy into next gen hardware.

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TangoUp

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Square Enix is already showing the benefits of ditching Yoichi Wada. The FFXV trailer kicked my ass.

It will be hilarious if we're still waiting for it 7 years later.

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billygoat117

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The megatons at the end, coupled with their exclusives, may have finally swayed me. I've been an Xboxer since day 1 and only use my PS3 as a Netflix/BluRay machine. But damn, by the end of this conference, I'm pretty well on board with the PS4. Two things to note: I couldn't feel more "meh" about The Order. It seemed less steampunk and more "what if we just dropped guns and radios and zeppelins into Victorian-era London?" Just didn't click with me. Two: I was smiling my ass off during Octodad's brief snippet of video. It looked so delightfully silly and just fun. Oh, and I guess one final thing: that song in the Transistor trailer is something else. Every time I hear it, I get goosebumps.

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joshwent

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Aside from the insanely great bizzaro-microsoft announcements, I was most shocked and pleased by the strong indie support.

Seeing Jonathan Blow at the PS4 reveal sent a clear message, that they actually do care about these types of games. But today, just one indie after another got me really pumped. Not to mention, as a long time Gamespot reader from back in the day, how much it warmed my heart to see Greg Kasavin up on that stage.

It's of course too early to tell, but for now the future seems bright for non-shooting-dudes games on the PS4.

Also, thanks to your title Alex I'll forever more hear this song when I see Jack Tretton.

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Animasta

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Edited By Animasta

Square Enix is already showing the benefits of ditching Yoichi Wada. The FFXV trailer kicked my ass.

this would have already been in the works by the time Wada left.

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daltimond

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Edited By daltimond

I couldve sworn that The Order said it was in-engine. Maybe I was mistaken.

edit: @alex Yeah I just watched the trailer again and it said at the beginning of it that it was all in-engine.

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EquitasInvictus

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Edited By EquitasInvictus

I was kind of on the fence about purchasing anything day-one but boy, the conference pushed me over the edge that by the time I saw preorders were open for the PS4 I jumped on it.

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HarkinNecro

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Edited By HarkinNecro

Wow what a night. Can you smell what the rock is cooking?

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Time_Lord

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Infamous: Second Son, Final Fantasy XV. No on line connection required and launching at a reasonable price I'm in once again Sony.

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Zojirushi

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It's kinda funny, Sony anounced people will have to pay for online and they've got a pretty serious lack of exclusives yet nobody cares because of that drm shit ;)

You done fucked up MS.

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aretak

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Edited By aretak

I couldve sworn that The Order said it was in-game engine. Maybe I was mistaken.

I believe it said the trailer was created in-engine, but not that it was actually running on PS4 hardware.

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Edited By Patman99

@davvyk said:

I want to love the PS4 but i just do not care about their exclusives like i do Microsoft's.

I do have a PC thought so i probably shouldn't care about Titanfall.

I love Forza

I like Halo

I digg the look of Quantum Break

Ryse looked ok.

Sony's exclusives just didn't grab me but that might just be because ive primarily been a XBOX and PC gamer this last gen.

You are being far too reasonable. This is the internet, where is your fanboyism? In all seriousness, I agree with your sentiment for the most part. In general, I think both consoles have some pretty good exclusives lined up. I'll probably end up getting both at some point but I still need to figure out which one I will "main" for this year/holiday.

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TangoUp

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Edited By TangoUp

@colonelxanders said:

https://twitter.com/yosp/status/344357778288152576

Shuhei Yoshida

"And yes, PS4 is region free :D"

GG MS.

Nail, meet coffin.

It's kinda funny, Sony anounced people will have to pay for online and they've got a pretty serious lack of exclusives yet nobody cares because of that drm shit ;)

You done fucked up MS.

Good point though. Sony has basically maintained the status quo from this gen except for making you pay for playing online. It's a negative in my eyes, but in the face of the debacle at Microsoft, Sony are coming across as angelic.

It boggles the mind.

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SolongWrex

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I just wonder how they think they're getting away with all this if it's true that Microsoft implemented their crap partly due to pressure from publishers. MS backing out of their policies would only be sensible at this point, but if Sony has to compromise on any part of what they've just promised, this is all going to backfire terribly.

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KaneRobot

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Edited By KaneRobot

"Hard to argue with any of what we saw, really."

Having to pay to play online? I don't personally have an issue with it, but that's not exactly hard to argue with.

I actually really liked the look of some of the Microsoft games, but the cloud of bullshit surrounding the console itsself is just an immovable dealbreaker for me. I'm probably just going to be driven back to PC gaming at this point, but if I buy something, it'll probably be a PS4.

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Linkachu95

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Edited By Linkachu95

@truthtellah: Wait, are you saying that Xbox will still come back and take the generation in the end?

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moonwalksa

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Holy shit. I wish I had more money and time right now because the PS4 is making me wish I could do a day one purchase. Being region free is excellent.

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IBurningStar

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Edited By IBurningStar

So today was basically Sony pulling a Red Wedding on Microsoft.

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Matoyak

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@solongwrex said:

I just wonder how they think they're getting away with all this if it's true that Microsoft implemented their crap partly due to pressure from publishers. MS backing out of their policies would only be sensible at this point, but if Sony has to compromise on any part of what they've just promised, this is all going to backfire terribly.

That is my main thought right now. Seems like a good way to ensure a lot of third-party exclusives for Microsoft. The other possibility is that while Sony said THEY won't have any DRM, they said nothing about preventing it on the Publisher's side. So equally possible that while the PS4 will have nothing about online verification, drming, used game prevention...maybe publishers can do all of that on their end, at which point I kinda shrug and go "OK, so that just means that instead of Sony getting money from it, now the publishers do.".

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Geralt

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Microsoft won't go down like this. They'll fight back and that's good for us.

The consumer always win...?

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Seppli

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Edited By Seppli

Jup. Preordered the PS4 a minute after Sony's conference ended. And I finally pulled the trigger on Playstation Plus. While it's a bummer that I'll need PS+ to play online multiplayer, I already wanted to buy into PS+ prior of the announcement for the added value of Instant Game Collection and such. So that still kinda worked out, even if I don't quite like paying for online multiplayer conceptually.

Sony just weathered the Perfect DRM Storm of the industry's own creation, and pulled a fast one me with the PS+ requirement for online multiplayer, and I still came out grinning like an idiot. Well played indeed!

P.S. Sony is banking on the fact that all-digital is on the rise anyways, and that all the DRM shennanigans won't any longer be of importance by the time this new generation is winding down. Forward thinking.

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TwoLines

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Yerah, big shocker- If I'm gonna buy a next gen console, it's going to be Playstation 4. Microsoft done goofed.

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Funkydupe

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@seppli: Cool. Hey, I was wondering, you enjoy Battlefield quite a bit, do you harbor any excitement for the upcoming Battlefront game?

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Honestly buying both but how do you know either system won't sit there collecting dust for a year like 3ds.Wii.Ps3.Vita.Wiiu? I can wait the first year until I see more of the line up. Most of the big games aren't until 2014. Who know what issues each console will have... I would not rush out to buy the first shipment of either systems. We all know theres a better version or bundle in the works.

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mancopter

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Edited By mancopter

Played 360 solely last gen.

Watched the E3 presentation.

Bought a PS3 and pre-ordered a PS4.

Presentation was amazing.

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@matoyak said:

@solongwrex said:

I just wonder how they think they're getting away with all this if it's true that Microsoft implemented their crap partly due to pressure from publishers. MS backing out of their policies would only be sensible at this point, but if Sony has to compromise on any part of what they've just promised, this is all going to backfire terribly.

That is my main thought right now. Seems like a good way to ensure a lot of third-party exclusives for Microsoft. The other possibility is that while Sony said THEY won't have any DRM, they said nothing about preventing it on the Publisher's side. So equally possible that while the PS4 will have nothing about online verification, drming, used game prevention...it's possible that the publishers can do all of that on their end, at which point I kinda shrug and go "OK, so that just means that instead of Sony getting money from it, now the publishers do.".

Or Titanfall is the story of things to come. It's Microsoft exclusive(probably timed). I wouldn't be surprised that if the PS4 and Xbox sells about the same, that the bigger publishers slowly stop supporting the PS4. Of course I hope they don't do that but a company like EA for instance that makes the vast majority of it's money on the 360 and is no stranger to throwing a console to the wolves would stop supporting PS4 and that would be a massive blow, if not even a deathblow. Sony is on a tightrope if I've ever seen one. Especially after shitting on MS like they did. If they go back on ANY of what they said, they are fucked(in a goodwill sense). But good on Sony for undercutting MS, though I don't think the last thing has been said about the prices and whatnot just yet.

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ninjalegend

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Edited By ninjalegend

As someone who likes to collect and keep his game consoles, I was worried about Sony going the draconian drm route MS went. All I was looking for in this press conference was a reason to buy at least one of these consoles and not just stick PC only. What I got was my face melted. Great job, Sony.

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Davvyk

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@patman99: Same issue here. I'll own both but which one on day one? Nooooooo idea.

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jjacobsson

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I expect Microsoft to unveil subsidizing plans for the XBox One before release. It might make one hell of a difference if you can get that thing for $99 with a 2/3/4-year plan or something... maybe...

But Sony definitely knocked it out of the park!

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virtorio

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It's nice to come away from a press conference impressed.

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Gildermershina

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I think the system looks kind of bleh. Otherwise, congrats to Sony for kicking Microsoft square in the balls. I expected this conference to be the moment the shoe dropped about Sony having all the same DRM stuff as Microsoft. It's like Sony were watching everyone complain about all this stuff all the time and by offering a contrary position they automatically get an enormous PR boost. Considering how much the original PS3 conference fucked everything up, I'm pleasantly surprised.

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billyok

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Edited By billyok

@pj said:

@matoyak said:

@solongwrex said:

I just wonder how they think they're getting away with all this if it's true that Microsoft implemented their crap partly due to pressure from publishers. MS backing out of their policies would only be sensible at this point, but if Sony has to compromise on any part of what they've just promised, this is all going to backfire terribly.

That is my main thought right now. Seems like a good way to ensure a lot of third-party exclusives for Microsoft. The other possibility is that while Sony said THEY won't have any DRM, they said nothing about preventing it on the Publisher's side. So equally possible that while the PS4 will have nothing about online verification, drming, used game prevention...it's possible that the publishers can do all of that on their end, at which point I kinda shrug and go "OK, so that just means that instead of Sony getting money from it, now the publishers do.".

Or Titanfall is the story of things to come. It's Microsoft exclusive(probably timed). I wouldn't be surprised that if the PS4 and Xbox sells about the same, that the bigger publishers slowly stop supporting the PS4. Of course I hope they don't do that but a company like EA for instance that makes the vast majority of it's money on the 360 and is no stranger to throwing a console to the wolves would stop supporting PS4 and that would be a massive blow, if not even a deathblow. Sony is on a tightrope if I've ever seen one. Especially after shitting on MS like they did. If they go back on ANY of what they said, they are fucked(in a goodwill sense). But good on Sony for undercutting MS, though I don't think the last thing has been said about the prices and whatnot just yet.

You think, that if a publisher sells as many copies of a game for PS4 as it does XB1, it will just kill support for PS4 and lose half its sales because of some loose restrictions on reselling and borrowing? Talk about cutting off the nose to spite the face. That'd be a horrendous business decision, and these companies are in the business of making money, not doing things out of spite.