E3 09: Sony Press Conference

June 2, 2009

Sony’s press conference was the last of the big three to go down today. Jack Tretton MCed the event and covered a few key highlights about Sony’s continuing gaming strategy. A few of those highlights are:

  • 364 games are slated for release on PlayStation platforms this year
  • Sony is committed to the PlayStation 2 as long as consumers see value in the platform
  • 100 new titles are shipping for the PS2 this year
  • 35 new exclusive PlayStation titles due out in 2009

Naughty Dog Co-President, Evan Wells, showed off a demo of Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. The demo looked quite amazing and has really set a high expectation for the title. The multiplayer beta for Uncharted 2 launches tonight. The gameplay footage can be seen below.

Andy Bowdoin of Zipper Interactive got up to talk about one of last year’s biggest news items, MAG. MAG is the 256 player massive multiplayer online game coming to the PS3 this fall. Here is the gameplay video shown at the conference.

One unexpected announcement was that Sony is looking to take the PSP after the tween market with a Hannah Montana bundle with lilac colored hardware and upcoming titles from Disney and Nickelodeon. Wasn’t Sony just recently criticizing Nintendo’s DSi for being a kid’s toy?

Sony has also officially announced the PSP Go as a product to be sold along side the current PSP-3000. It is going to be 50% smaller and 40% lighter than the original PSP and will omit the UMD drive with all software purchases being done via the PlayStation Network using wifi. The hardware will cost $249 and be available October 1st in North America and Europe. I personally think the price point is WAY too high. Has Sony not learned anything about pricing hardware? The PS3 is lagging behind the competition because of it’s price and the PSP is getting blown out of the water by the DS and DSi. While it makes sense to move to direct download games, an upgrade that renders a gamers’ entire library unusable is a bad business move.

Some blockbuster titles for the PSP that are upcoming include Gran Turismo PSP and Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker. GT PSP runs at 60fps on the PSP Go. It features 800 cars, 35 tracks, and 60 track layout variations. It supports an Ad-hoc multiplayer mode with up to 4 gamers in the nearby vicinity. You can also trade and share cars with other players and cooperatively work to unlock additional cars. MGS: Peace Walker is set 10 years after MGS 3 in Costa Rica. The title will be heavily driven by Hideo Kojima and the rest of the MGS 4 team.

Additional PSP titles include Resident Evil, Little Big Planet, Socom, Monster Hunter, Hannah Montana, and Harry Potter.

On the exclusive front Rockstar has a new title called Agent coming to the PS3. Agent is set in the 1970’s (is this a theme here?) and features a globetrotting special agent engaging in assassins and espionage. Sounds like a 1970’s James Bond, Roger Moore anyone?

Next up was the Ubisoft demo for Assassin’s Creed II which is set in the Reniassance period. It features over 30 different weapons in the final release with an additional 6 weapons that can be unlocked if you play AC on PSP and connect it to your PS3. AC II is slated to be on store shelves by the holiday season.

Not surprising anyone, Sony announced a motion based controller under development. The aim is to work towards a much more realistic gaming experience. The controller looks pretty similar to a black Wii remote with a glowing ball on the end which is tracked using the PlayStation Eye. The estimated launch window for that is Spring 2010 so Sony has plenty of time to refine it and hopefully nail the implementation.

Sony also showed off ModNation Racers, a kart racing game that is one part Little Big Planet, one part Mighty Mugg/Munny doll, and one part Kart racer. It’s got a super high level of customization and has kind of a cutesy feel to it. It looks kind of neat, but we’ll have to see how it plays and how accurate the controls are.

Rounding out the last of the new titles was The Last Guardian, a new title from the developers of Shadow of the Colossus. The Last Guardian features a young boy who rides a giant half chicken half heyena creature. Say what? I’m not sure about this one. The graphics were very similar to SotC only a bit more refined. I’ll let you make your own judgment on this one.

Making a repeat appearance from last year were God of War 3 and Gran Turismo 5. Updated gameplay/trailers below.

So there you have it. Sony seems to have a good lineup of exclusives on the board, but I still think they need a hardware price cut. The PSP Go is overpriced and is going to please new adopters and do nothing but piss off existing PSP owners. In all a very strong showing from Sony. I’m quite excited with the look of ModNation Racers and can’t wait to check out Uncharted 2. If you’d like to watch the full 2 hour conference video feed, you can check it out here.