Sony at E3: What to Expect

We continue our preview with analysts. For Sony, software and a strong Vita showing will be key

Following our analyst roundtable looking at Microsoft's E3 presence and what strategy the Xbox team may take with its press briefing, we've now shifted the spotlight to Microsoft's main rival: Sony. While last year's E3 appearance by Sony was marred by the necessity of having to apologize for a massive PlayStation Network breach, that's now long in the past and Sony can focus on one of its strengths: software.

The consensus from analysts seems to be that Sony will put core games front and center, while also trying to bolster its Vita platform and expanding on its growing digital initiatives.

Here's the Sony-focused analyst roundtable:

David Cole, DFC Intelligence

With Sony I think it will be all about games and I think they should be showing a lot of first party content for both the Vita and PlayStation 3.  When you talk about exciting new games that consumers will actually play this holiday season the Sony platforms should have the most interesting lineups.  Some of these titles may look very familiar to Nintendo audiences as Sony is putting a major focus on its classic game characters from many key first party titles over the years.  In other words, Sony versions of Super Smash Brothers and Mario Kart.  I also think Sony will have a pretty big focus on lower priced PSN exclusives for both systems.  It will be interesting to see if there are some gems that are only available online.

The Vita really needs a strong showing and once again it is all about games.  The Vita is a cool system that was given an unfairly harsh reception by the media.  I think there will be some major third party products such as Call of Duty for Vita.  I also think that Sony will try and highlight how well the Vita handles traditional console genres like first-person shooters, fighting games and platform games like Little Big Planet.  With Sony this year's E3 is all about highlighting great content that will encourage consumers to buy Sony game systems.

Billy Pidgeon, M2 Research

Sony's E3 2012 showing will concentrate on software and online services.  I'm expecting a strong emphasis on hardcore titles with big reveals on first party titles that should include several surprises in addition to those we know about.  There will be more surprises from third party publishers, including exclusive titles as well as features.

Sony Computer Entertainment has been focused primarily on core gamers and I don't believe presentations will stray far from this theme. As the PS3 installed base has potential to expand much further into the hardcore enthusiast sector and PS Vita is in its first year, I think it's a sound strategy to concentrate on the hardcore sector.

"We are likely to see hardware bundles priced for value (if not an across the board PS3 price cut), but I think it's very unlikely that Sony would tease next generation hardware at E3 2012"

Billy Pidgeon

While new PS3 titles will build out the platform, strong PS Vita titles are even more important to Sony now.  We know about several, including Call of Duty and Killzone in the important FPS category, but I expect to see more as yet unannounced first and third party PS Vita titles revealed at E3.  Sony will also demonstrate how PS Vita multiplayer is a unique mobile experience for core gamers, and I expect Sony will show how they've built on this strength with new features at the show.

I expect to see Sony making the case that multiplayer gaming and services on PlayStation Network are a better experience in contrast to Xbox LIVE.  For instance, Sony was the first of the three vendors to bring free-to-play games to online consoles, on PlayStation Network and in Home, so I'll be looking for more multiplayer online firsts and exclusives from Sony at E3 2012.  Microsoft scored big with Minecraft this year, and it would be great to see Sony even the score with a Diablo III exclusive.

I am expecting software surprises, and we are likely to see hardware bundles priced for value (if not an across the board PS3 price cut), but I think it's very unlikely that Sony would tease next generation hardware at E3 2012.

Jesse Divnich, EEDAR

Expect Sony to come out swinging with plenty of demos of their core IPs. 

With the Vita, expect Sony to showcase several games with the cross-play feature.  It truly is a unique feature, one that none of their competitors can implement.

The biggest title they will likely showcase will be God of War: Ascension.  I know many consumers are anxious--and concerned--about the new multiplayer component within the God of War franchise, so I would expect Sony to showcase how the multiplayer works and quite possibly have a live demo on the show floor.

I don't anticipate any price cut announcements for the Vita or PlayStation 3--but I've been wrong before.

Lewis Ward, IDC Research Manager

In Sony's case I'd like to see a vision laid out for making PlayStation a "non-proprietary" brand. What I mean by that is a plan to make a wide variety of PlayStation games and Sony Entertainment Network content not only available on Sony's own hardware - including tablets and smartphones - but on an array of certified third party devices. So the PlayStation Suite concept taken to a new level, and before the end of 2012. If they do that, I think Sony will have staked out a unique vision, but I also think it has be backed up with PSN-based social networking services that's cross-platform for it to be really compelling.

"Will a Vita price cut be forthcoming? Hard to say, but it would all but certainly provide a positive uptick in terms of sales, media coverage and industry attention"

Scott Steinberg

I'm afraid the Vita news may underwhelm... I personally think the Vita's an excellent gaming device but I get the sense that soft initial sales has many observers ready to pile dirt on the platform unless they knock our socks off on the exclusive handheld game front at E3. Maybe this will happen but I'm afraid it's a bit of a long shot.

Scott Steinberg, TechSavvy Global

Our analysts anticipate that Sony will make a great deal of noise this year around its software offerings, including both core and casual product for PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita, as it looks to retrench its position as a global gaming leader with an eye towards premium and innovative software and hardware products. We fully expect that much of the presentation will be devoted to touting the future roadmap for Vita-based software and feature content, and new product and feature offerings on both the retail and digital fronts for PlayStation 3 and the PlayStation Network.

A full-scale launch announcement for the Orbis, or PlayStation 4, is unlikely, with the manufacturer more apt to double down on touting a blockbuster lineup of first- and third-party software, carefully designed to reinforce the impression of strong developer support and must-see content that will drive continued interest from gaming fans, and fuel newcomers' continued desire to buy Sony-branded hardware. New debuts in core franchises such as God of War and LittleBigPlanet and appearances by brand-name developers such as Rockstar, Naughty Dog and Quantic Dream may be part of the presentation.

Outside of digital entertainment focused announcements, key software launches, and upcoming plans for the PlayStation Move, the company's likeliest focus this year looks to be simply shoring up its position and reassuring both partners and fans that the future will be bright for PlayStation-branded initiatives. Will a Vita price cut be forthcoming? Hard to say, but it would all but certainly provide a positive uptick in terms of sales, media coverage and industry attention.

Please stay tuned for our final installment with analysts talking about Nintendo's E3 game plan.

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Latest comments (10)

John Bye Lead Designer, Freejam10 years ago
Proper Remote Play support for streaming PS3 games to a PS Vita would be a great announcement to make. That would certainly make me buy one, so I can play Skyrim and Mass Effect while my wife's hogging the TV, or relax in the garden playing Flower. :)

If they push cross-play and Vita-PS3 link ups as well, that would certainly take some of the wind out of Nintendo's sails, as the Vita-PS3 combination *should* be able to do far more than the Wii U tablet.
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Terence Gage Freelance writer 10 years ago
I think Sony's conference will focus on the software; certainly on PS3 and hopefully on Vita too. I read a rumour this morning that they may have inked a deal with a leading cloud gaming company, which would be a pretty impressive coup if so (assuming MS hasn't got a similar reveal in store). I think their presentation will be aimed squarely at core gamers, as they've already said this is their intended audience with the Vita, and I think the rise and demise of the Wii (and arguably Kinect) has shown how fickle the 'casual' market can be.

It almost seems a shame that games like GoW: Ascension, PS Battle Royale and Soul Survivor were not held back for E3 - but hopefully there will still be some new game reveals. I would like to see a few big games like Demon's Souls 2 (unlikely but a guy can wish can't he?), the next project from Quantic Dream and Sony Santa Monica's other project - rumoured to be a driving/action game, as I understand it.

I would also like to see lots of The Last of Us and The Last Guardian, and certainly a release date for the latter.
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Nicholas Pantazis Senior Editor, VGChartz Ltd10 years ago
@ John while the PSVita and PS3 have some cross play options, there's really nothing that the combination could theoretically do any better than the Wii U. In fact, because the PS3 is an older piece of tech which is clearly still limiting it today in many ways (it lacks many key online features still and features that even the Vita has), it's likely very difficult to make it do the sorts of things that the Wii U tablet does when interacting with the console.

@Terence Sony have already said The Last Guardian would be absent from E3. That game is in serious trouble, with an insane amount of delays and Ueda and Hayama (the producer) leaving Sony during development (though Ueda stayed on under contract to finish the game). I fear it's going to be one of the most disappointing games on the platform (which scares me, because Shadow of the Colossus is one of my all-time favorites).

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Nicholas Pantazis on 25th May 2012 3:48pm

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Terence Gage Freelance writer 10 years ago
*Puts fingers in ears*


(Meant in playful jest, although I will be very disappointed if it's anything less than very good. SotC is my second-favourite game ever).
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Rick Lopez Illustrator, Graphic Designer 10 years ago
PS VITA price drop please...
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John Bye Lead Designer, Freejam10 years ago
Nicholas - I could be wrong, but I'd assume there's no technical reason you couldn't use a Vita as a PS3 controller if a game was designed to support it, which would allow all the functionality that a Wii U tablet has, no?

Off the top of my head, the advantages a Vita-PS3 combination could have over Wii U are -

- Vita uses wi-fi for remote play, so you can use it much further away from the base console than the Wii U tablet.

- I don't know what the lag would be like, but you don't even have to be in the same country as your PS3 to remote play with a Vita, as it can apparently do it over the internet too. If nothing else you could stream music and movies from your home this way.

- You can untether a Vita from the base console entirely - cross-play already allows a few games to be played on both PS3 and Vita, sharing save data between them.

- Vita has a multi-touch screen.

- Vita does its own processing, so you don't have to waste CPU time on the base console rendering and streaming video to the hand unit.

Of course, the advantage Wii U has is that everyone who has a console has a tablet with it, whereas Vita's install base is still very small. But this is the kind of functionality that might get people more interested in the device IMO.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by John Bye on 25th May 2012 6:50pm

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Gregory Keenan10 years ago
I think sony focusing on the core market is winning them allot of disenchanted 360 players. Hopefully they can draw them across as Live friends will be a major sticking point.
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Nicholas Pantazis Senior Editor, VGChartz Ltd10 years ago
@ John Well so far there have been a lot of technical problems with getting the Vita to work with everything that works on the PS3 and even the PSP. Lots of digital PSP games and minis don't work and no PSOne Classics work yet (I'm hoping this will be part of their E3 announcements).

When trying to play cross-platform difficulties arise as well. For example, I have Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 on Vita and PS3 and it lets me use the Vita with my PS3 in "Ultimate Controller Mode" but even with a wired internet connection on the PS3 and my Vita within 30 feet of my wifi router my connection in this mode drops regularly (about once every 30 minutes). While that doesn't sound that bad, it drops while playing online, which got me pretty close to chucking the Vita through a window multiple times.

So, while wifi connections have all these advantages of distance and use away from the home, they come with the disadvantage of a FAR less reliable and slower connection. I guess it depends on what's most important to you, feature-wise, but as far as playing a game in front of your TV with an augmented controller, you're going to want something more stable than the Vita to PS3 connection.

Furthermore, you have to buy each game that has cross-platform functions twice. Once on the Vita and once on the PS3. So not only do you have a minimum hardware cost of over $500, you have a $100 cost per cross-platform game ($40 for the Vita version and $60 for the PS3 version, unless that Vita game happens to be $50 then it's even more).

Edit: To be clear I'm not saying it will never be used, just that it's unlikely to be a main feature of the system due to these difficulties.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Nicholas Pantazis on 25th May 2012 7:54pm

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Craig Page El Presidente, Awesome Enterprises10 years ago
Hopefully they'll announce that their graphics and cpu power will be twice as much as the next xbox (and 74,000 times more powerful than the Wii U). Come on SOMEONE has to make a decent console next generation. Or else they should just give up now and decide to make gaming PCs, blu-ray players, and home media players that cost consumers $60 a year only to be shown nonstop ads.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Craig Page on 26th May 2012 12:32am

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Robert Programmers 10 years ago
We know its cloud.

(And raspberry pi announced as the basis of orbis next year)
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