Sony (NYSE: SNE ) has thus far enjoyed the frontrunner position in this round of the console race. What did the company have to show at this year's E3 press conference? Is the PlayStation 4 in good shape to retain market leadership?
Sony E3 Recap
Sony's E3 show kicked off with a heavy focus on Activision Blizzard's new IP Destiny. The title has exclusive content on the PlayStation 4, and a white version of the console will ship on September 9 that includes a bundled copy of the game. The conference segued into a demonstration of The Order: 1866 and followed up with the unveiling of Entwined, a currently available PlayStation Network game. This was followed up by the announcement of new, stand-alone Infamous: Second Son DLC.
The next big game announced at Sony's show was Little Big Planet 3. The game will allow users to import levels built in Little Big Planet and Little Big Planet 2. The new platformer was followed by the unveiling of Bloodborne, from From Software, the developer of the popular Dark Souls series.
A big indie focus
Even before the launch of the PlayStation 4, it was clear that indie games would play a big role for the system. This year's E3 show was packed with indie games, the most interesting of which was probably No Man's Sky from Hello Games. The title makes use of randomly generated worlds and will allow players to meet up on interstellar travels. Also notable was ABZU from That Game Company.
Exclusive content, games, and partnerships
Moving away from indies, Dead Island 2 was the next big game shown. The title will have exclusive content on PlayStation platforms. Disney's Infinity 2 will also have exclusive Avengers content on Sony's systems. The platform holder then announced partnerships with developers Paradox, DoubleFine, Devolver Digital, and Grasshopper Manufacture. Other than Bloodborne, Grasshopper's Let It Die stood as the most high profile Japanese game at the conference.
Sony takes over camera duties
Interestingly, Sony spent substantially more time talking about the PlayStation camera than Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT ) did about Xbox One's Kinect. The PlayStation camera will work in conjunction with Project Morpheus, Sony's VR headset. Talk of the camera and headmounted display segued into an introduction of the new president of SCEA Shawn Layden.
PSN, YouTube, PlayStation Now, and F2P
The new head of SCEA expressed his enthusiasm for the broader PlayStation platform before discussing the PlayStation Network. Layden promised to continue to improve the features offered on PSN and boasted that more than 95% of PlayStation 4 owners have connected to the network. He then announced that direct YouTube sharing will be coming to PS4 later in the year.
Layden emphasized that PlayStation 4 would be the premier console for free-to-play experiences, stating that more than 25 F2P new titles would be available for PS4 within a year. A sizzle reel then ran, showing off many of these titles, and emphasizing a wide range of genres and visual styles. This video was followed up by the announcement that the PlayStation Now beta will be available to North American PS4 owners on July 31. Also interesting was the announcement that select Sony televisions will be able to connect to PlayStation Now, a clear sign of the direction in which the industry is heading.
The Now platform appears to be very important for the company, and it will be a key part of its efforts to prop up its struggling Vita handheld. It was clear that new, high-profile games for the system were in short supply.
Reviving (and renaming) the PS Vita TV
Surprisingly, Sony's PS Vita TV is not dead. After posting disappointing Japanese sales, the device is coming to the West, now called simply "PlayStation TV." One major bright spot in the PS Vita and PlayStation TV lineup was the announcement of Disney's Infinity 2.
More games, movies, and original content
Layden then introduced gameplay footage for Warner Bros. Mortal Kombat X. The video wrapped up with a montage or gruesome in-game executions that seemed to get a rise out of the audience. This demonstration was followed up details about original media programming for the PlayStation platforms. Sony's first original series Powers was then detailed by Brian Michael Bendis, one of the property's creators and producers. The show is an adaptation of a superhero comic book series and seems to have some big names involved. The full run of the program will be available to all PlayStation Plus subscribers at no extra cost.
Next up was a look at the movie adaptation of Rachet and Clank. The film is set to hit theaters in 2015. Insomniac Games is also working with Sony to remake the first game in the platforming series.
The conference audience next got a look at Naughty Dog's The Last of Us: Remastered and Konami's Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain, two games with mature, cinematic bents. Both titles looked suitably heavy and impressive.
Take-Two Interactive's Grand Theft Auto V for PlayStation 4 was the next game to take center stage. The title is guaranteed to be huge when it hits in the fall.
The announcement of the GTA V port was followed up by a video of Warner Bros. Batman: Arkham Knight. The video featured The Dark Knight gliding through the skies before landing and cruising the streets of Gotham in the Batmobile. The game will have missions featuring the villainous Scarecrow only on PlayStation 4.
The Sony press show wrapped up with footage from Uncharted 4: A Thief's End, the new game from premier first-party developer Naughty Dog. What little was shown of the title looked fantastic and showcased some of the most impressive graphics yet seen on the new consoles. The conference concluded with a sizzle trailer set to a cover of The Kinks "I'm Not Like Everybody Else," a song that was once used in promo reels for IBM.
Takeaways from Sony's press conference...
In review, Sony's press conference was not as tightly paced as Microsoft's, but its show covered a lot more ground. As the current market favorite, Sony didn't have to do anything particularly risky or face the need to substantially rework its stage format. The company delivered a solid E3 presser.
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