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E3 2011: PING/PONG: Sony Press Conference Review
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E3 2011: PING/PONG: Sony Press Conference Review

Sony was next up to deliver their official press conference for E3 2011. How did they do? Our laborious longbreaths share their thoughts.

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With the first major press conference out of the way, now it’s Sony’s turn to be dissected by the Popzara crew. Getting underway a little behind schedule, Sony showed the public that it was only fashionably late. With all the littlebig news nibbles found HERE, we decided to continue our company-by-company mini-PING/PONG recap with the rulers of the PlayStation empire. Nathan Evans (Mr. Universal) and John Lucas (the guy in the green Luigi hat) huff and puff and blow your minds down with their windy wordy opinions on Sony’s performance.

And if you want to hold their feet to the fires, cross-reference what they said in the pre-show PING/PONG right HERE to make sure they don’t weasel out if or when they get something wrong.


E3 2011 Sony Press Conference Review

Wow. What a show. Sony went for the JUGULAR this E3! Came for their NECKS! They started off with the topic on everybody’s mind, the PSN hack attack, and left with the topic on everybody’s mind, the successor of the PSP. For the first half of the show I was already thinking that Sony was doing a little better than Microsoft’s show but the second half got rid of the “little” part entirely. MUCH better show than last year’s even with Jack Tretton’s yawn-inducing tones. We’ll talk about that first half stuff later. But all I wanna talk about right now is the Artist formerly known as the NGP.

Creamy cheddar cheese! It’s true! The name is the PlayStation Vita (not prefixed by Vel from Kraft). Vita the Latin (and Italian) word for “life”. And looks like it has breathed new life into Sony Computer Entertainment’s fortunes. I said that if they priced Vita over $300 they were history and somehow they pulled off the IMPOSSIBLE! HOW, tell me Mr. Universal, HOW did they get that price that low?! They still gotta worry about Apple & the Androids but that high-tier price changes the entire game! Kaz has totally made up for his infamous “599 U.S. Dollars” quote from 5 years ago. Tell me…HOW?!

Hyperbole Alert: for months I’ve been saying that I thought Sony would offer multiple versions of the PlayStation Vita (i.e. NGP), but that they’d also offer significant pricing strategies to help offset the initial sticker-shock. I even threw around numbers like $399 – $ 999, and hinted they’d offer contracts to help ease the pain. But I was wrong, completely wrong, and I’m man enough to admit this openly and without shame. Sony has not only shocked the world by pricing their PSP successor on par with Nintendo’s DS and Apple’s various iThings, but they may have completely stolen the show for skeptical naysayers like myself who’ve gotten a little too comfortable in making outlandish statements.

“Two Hundred and Forty-Nine Dollars” That’s Sony’s new mantra, and it nearly erases the classic “Five Hundred Ninety-Nine US Dollars” from our collective memories. That they could offer such a powerful piece of hardware – that’s supremely innovative – at such a low asking price is beyond amazing, but to offer a 3G-enabled version for just $299 is outstanding. I can’t help but wonder how much of the cost they’re eating to put this thing out there, and anyone who thinks that isn’t happening doesn’t understand how this game works. The PS Vita, which is not only more powerful, more innovative, more flexible, and even more controllable than Nintendo’s 3DS, but it’s now EXACTLY the same price, and given how weakly the 3DS has performed in just about every market that it’s been released in, one has to question what this means for the future of Nintendo in not only the mobile market, but as a console manufacturer in general.

But that’s for another discussion, as I want to quickly touch on the rest of Sony’s conference, which ranged for mediocre-to-bleh, with a string of impressive-looking (but already announced) sequels, to hideous disasters and cultural embarrassments (the bit with Kobe was laughably bad). It was a presentation with all the warmth of a PowerPoint Slide, and this wasn’t the place for that type of corporatism. The 3DTV announcement ($499) was impressive, although I still think 3D at this point is a gimmick not worth investing in, but those looking to pick up a relatively cheap dual-layered 3D display could do worse. Uncharted 3 was definitely their game, but again, that’s not surprising at all.

Make no mistake about it. Sony has GOT to be selling this Vita thing WAY under cost considering how much they priced the much less capable PSPgo a couple of years ago at $250. They’re gonna loss-lead themselves to the grave if they have to, it looks like. Impressive as it may be (and it is) they still have some roadbumps to watch out for. Many people don’t like dealing with the monolith that is AT&T and Sony made them the exclusive U.S. wireless partner for 3G service. The groans were very audible in that auditorium when Kaz spoke the initials of the American Telephone & Telegraph Corporation. Also as cool as Vita’s graphics and functions are, Sony still has to contend with the entire physical retail model being crumbled beneath their feet should Apple and the Androids (the Double A’s!) become even more of a fertile ground to play games.

For all Vita can do, it can’t make phone calls. The potential all-in-one device has threatened the existence of gaming-focused handhelds for decades. Now they are here and Vita’s size along with its lack of telephony can hamper it should buyers decide that small sleek all-in-one devices are good enough. Sony will have to make sure that they convince buyers that buttons—and touchpads—are worth the jump. I have always loved the touchpad feature and to me it’s the best part of Vita for game control potential. Sony out-innovated Nintendo for once! They definitely showed it was useful not a novelty (loved the ModNation Racers demonstration and Ruin’s seamless switchover to the PS3).

And even more amazing on the lower price tip is how they managed to get a 24-inch 3DTV down to $499. No, they got it to $499 in a BUNDLE containing a pair of 3D glasses, an HDMI cable, and a copy of Resistance 3! What, did they revenge hack into one of their hacker’s bank accounts for more funds or what? That’s how you leverage your vertical business that makes damn near everything electronic. Plus the TV allows 2 players to look at screen at same time to see 2 different screens! Split screen effect without splitting the screen. How? And just for the record I thought that Star Trek phaser-shaped Move controller thing was cool. Whew. So many diverse games announced at this conference. Touch on that subject if you will.

The Star Trek ‘exclusive’ stuff for next year looked good, but I wonder how that phaser will turn out? Might look silly ‘shaking’ a phase to approximate gun blasts; maybe a tricorder accessory would have been a better fit?

I really wish Sony would stop pushing the 3D on everything, as I just don’t think people are that eager to adopt it at this time, despite falling prices and improved tech. Just concentrate on the better looking – and playing games – featuring the PS Move and you’’ll convert a lot more people to the PlayStation Brand. That said, I wasn’t at all impressed by any of the Move titles that were shown, especially Medieval Moves: Deadmund’s Quest, which looked spectacularly bad. Maybe the final version will get better, but whoever made the decision to showcase that on stage should either lose their job or face severe (and just) mockery until next year’s showing. Yuck.

Like I said above, nothing about the standard PlayStation 3 line-up shown particularly impressed me that much, at least, not in a way that I wasn’t going to pick up games that I wasn’t going to be picking up already. Uncharted 3 looked amazing (if familiar), as did Resistance 3 (ditto), and if I was truly disappointed by anything it was not seeing more of The Last Guardian, which really wows me every time I see it. Why didn’t you showcase more of that, Sony? Why put Kobe up there in one of the most awkward pairings ever seen to promote NBA 2K12 NBA? Did someone forget to mention the Lakers aren’t in the playoffs this year?

But final thoughts, as unimpressed as I was with the core PlayStation 3 games, I came away a true believer in the PS Vita. I’m willing to go so far as to say that its amazing price ($249!), incredible innovative tech, and obvious third-party support – which is going to be massive – could spell the end of Nintendo’s 3DS. Speaking of Nintendo, they have their work cut out for them tomorrow, and what they show (or don’t show) could portend their entire future in the console side of this business.

Oh, we just can’t stay away from the Vita talk, can we? Before I address the rest of Sony’s show, I will warn you not to get too overstated when comparing Sony to Nintendo. Nintendo felled giants with a lot less before and they can do it again if they play their cards right (which currently they definitely are NOT). Sony did good here but don’t think for a second that Nintendo’s leaving this console business anytime soon on the home or handheld fronts…even WITH mistakes. You should expect no less of an answer from the guy with the green Luigi hat, haha. The Mushroom Kingdom will NEVER die! Muhuhahahahahaha!

But on another front, unlike you I was impressed by the diversity of lineup Sony had for the PS3. Different genres, different art styles, better change-ups on the presented material. It just didn’t feel like the same ol’ same ol’ with Sony even though they had the predictable big name sequel-numbered blockbusters too. And I noticed Sony was heavy on the exclusives too. “Only on PlayStation” wasn’t just for UFC pay-per-view fights here. Well, that’s only natural since Microsoft barely HAS any exclusive games outside of Kinect titles and a few others. But the emphasis on 3D gets lost on you when you don’t have those glasses to see the stuff they demonstrate. Many times just like last year I was like “Man, that part would have been cool if i could have actually seen the 3D.” And 3D won’t really go far until they get rid of those glasses to begin with. Their 3DTV offer makes it a little easier to swallow.

I was impressed by their Move demonstrations like with Medieval Moves: Deadmund’s Quest and its ability to change weapons in-game by certain motions. Plus shooting bow and arrow with single Move controller. But I wonder why LittleBigPlanet 2’s Move capabilities weren’t all put in from the start though. Why the fall update? Overall, this show to me was better than Microsoft’s which is easy since Sony was introducing new hardware. A better celebrity cameo too. Maybe that’s why the Lakers lost The Finals. Kobe didn’t want anything to get in the way of his E3 appearance. Boy they set him up having him play against LeBron James and the Miami Heat. Hahahaha!

Sony’s doing their best to recover from their falls from grace at this show. Both Jack Tretton and Kaz Hirai addressing the PSN hack attack incident head on and then coming on strong with a much more competitive price for their PlayStation Vita handheld. Not just that but making sure Vita focuses on games first and foremost unlike the PSP. New ‘vita’ may have been injected into Sony at this year’s E3. If they can keep any more public relations disasters from happening, they might be able to extend this goodwill into rediscovered success.

About the Author: Popzara Press