E3 2014: Sony puts big focus on games

While last year was all about the hardware, Sony put its foot on the software accelerator for this E3 [Update: GTA V also on Xbox One]

Similar to Microsoft's briefing from this morning, Sony came to E3 2014 with one clear goal in mind: to show why its platforms should appeal to consumers with top software. Group president and CEO Andrew House kicked things off by noting that Bungie's Destiny perfectly embodies what PlayStation is all about: great visuals, great gameplay and most of all, being connected to a large community. Sony is going all in on Destiny, as PS4 gamers will be first to get the beta on July 17, and this Thursday they can play Destiny's first look alpha. Moreover, Sony will be selling a new Destiny PS4 bundle with a glacier white PS4 on September 9.

Sony continued its conference with a number of trailers for upcoming titles, including the recently delayed The Order 1886, a new game about two souls called Entwined (PS4 version now available for $9.99 with PS3 and Vita to follow as part of cross buy), Media Molecule's LittleBigPlanet 3 (which introduces new characters to join Sack Boy), and a brand-new title from From Software called Bloodborne (coming 2015).

Next up was Far Cry 4, which looks more and more impressive with each new portion we see of it. Better yet, Sony's Adam Boyes took the stage to announce a novel feature for the game: when you buy Far Cry 4, you can invite PSN friends to join your world even if they don't have the game.

The barrage of game announcements continued - A Dead Island 2 video was shown, a Last of Us themed dungeon was announced for Diablo 3, another trailer for Battlefield Hardline was shown, and thanks to a new partnership with Paradox Interactive Magicka 2 Learn to Spell Again was announced for PlayStation. Following those, fans got excited to hear that after 15 years Double Fine will be remastering Grim Fandango, and Sony reached an agreement with Devolver Digital, so that many of its titles will be making their console debut on PS platforms - Bro Force, Titan Souls, Not a Hero, Hotline Miami Wrong Number and The Talos Principle.

Then Sony announced that Suda51's next Grasshopper Manufacture game will be a PS4 exclusive in 2015. The appropriately named Let It Die looked quite gruesome. On the other side of gruesome was the new game from Giant Squid called Abzu, which looks beautiful thanks to the art style from Matt Nava of Journey fame - Abzu will make its exclusive console debut on PS4. Similarly gorgeous was a new trailer for Hello Games' No Man's Sky, and Sean Murray briefly took to the stage to talk about the procedural universe, which should ensure that everyone's journey in the game is unique.

Switching gears, Andrew House came back on stage to take a minor jab at Microsoft, noting that the PlayStation Camera was always sold as a choice but that it's "far exceeded expectations," and now Sony is taking it in another dimension with VR headset Project Morpheus. While he noted that there are a couple demos at E3, sadly not much new detail was shared.

As the show continued, Jack Tretton replacement Shawn Layden made an appearance and talked about how important Sony thinks free-to-play will be on consoles. He said it'll "explode in the coming years" and Sony has over 25 free-to-play games coming this year already.

Layden also shared the news that PlayStation Now is starting its open beta on PS4 in North America on July 31, and shortly after that PS Now will become available on PS3 and PS Vita. Sony is also planning to bring the PS Now experience to "select Sony Televisions," but exact details on that were not mentioned.

Meanwhile, although PS Vita has become somewhat of a tool for Sony to showcase Remote Play and PS Now, Sony did promise that the platform by itself still "will remain a key pillar for us" and the company has more than 100 Vita titles in development today.

Moving ahead, Sony made another important platform announcement: PlayStation TV will be coming out for $99 this Fall, and a bundle that includes a DualShock 3, an 8 GB data card, an HDMI cable, and a copy of The Lego Movie Video Game will be available for $139. Sony noted that Disney Infinity 2 will be coming to Vita and PlayStation TV next year.

While the vast majority of the press event was about games, Sony did briefly remind us that they are an entertainment company as well, and that will prove to be a good thing for comics fans. Sony is bringing an original video series called Powers to PlayStation. It's from one of the highest selling Marvel writers, Brian Michael Bendis, and will be available in the US in December. Not only that, but every PSN user gets to watch first episode for free, while PS Plus subscribers can view the entire series for free; Sony is expecting to include more free video content for PS Plus members going forward.

Sony then provided an update on the Ratchet and Clank film, noting that it and a reimagining of the Ratchet and Clank game are coming to PS4 in the first half of 2015. Speaking of remasters, The Last of Us for PS4 was announced for July 29, 2014.

Closing out the conference, Sony revealed some heavy hitters, including a trailer for Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, Batman Arkham Knight, and GTA V, which is coming to PS4 this fall, taking full advantage of PS4 according to Andrew House. He also noted an interesting feature: the current community of PS3 and Xbox 360 players can transfer their progress in GTA V to PS4. Finally, what would a Sony show be without Uncharted? Sony ended on a trailer for the new title, Uncharted 4: A Thief's End, which is coming in 2015.

Update: After the press conference, Rockstar issued a press release noting that GTA V will be coming to PC and Xbox One as well as PS4, and the data transfer that Andrew House was referring to only applies to the progress made in GTA Online, not the full GTA V game.

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Latest comments (8)

Julian Beck HR Consultant 3 years ago
While I don't see Sony's show as a landslide victory like last year, Sony took the victory with a significant gap to Microsoft's content. "Uncharted 4", "The Order 1886", "Blood Borne" and "Little Big Planet 3" are all totally exclusive, no remakes and high-budget titles - two of them being guaranteed system-sellers, the other two having a high potential to deliver the same status. That is more than "Sunset Overdrive" on Xbox One, which probably will be at least a good game. But nobody knows if it has system-seller qualities.
Significantly "The Last of Us" - remake didn't need to be the trek leader for Sony in comparison to Microsoft utilizing their "Halo" remake collection. Very remarkable is also that Sony didn't highlight "Drive Club" at all except showing some scenes in the mixed trailer at the end of the show, while Microsoft "needed" to take bigger spotlight on "Forza Horizon 2".
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Payton Liu Production Support Analyst, IBM China3 years ago
Watched the show this morning (China time) on-line. I do agree that Sony's conference is a little bit dull when compared to Microsoft, however, there are more surprises in Sony's show.

I was impressed by No Man's Sky, yeah it's multi-platform, but seems it's getting more support from Sony than from Microsoft. Bloodborne is quite interesting, bring back my memory of playing Dead Space (the 1st one) years ago. Will play "Entwined" when it releases in Hong Kong PSN store.

The biggest shock is, of cause, Uncharted 4. Like the new design of Drake, looking forward to a proper final for him. I'm speechless of the game's new engine, if that run was real demo on PS4.

The two remastered titles - The Last of Us and GTA V, I must say GTA V looks outstanding when compared to original PS3 release. Surely, TLOS is a must buy since I haven't bought the DLC yet.

All in all, good works Sony, just keep new contents coming. :-)
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Daniel Hughes Studying PhD Literary Modernism, Bangor University3 years ago
I thought the conferences were relatively even. Sony seem to be benefiting from 18 months in which they've had a clear, concise message well received, while Microsoft have spent 12 months restructuring and rethinking their message, which had been torn to pieces. Sony had a stronger platform to start on, yet I think Microsoft have clawed back some ground with their no nonsense emphasis on software. The middle of Sony's conference was incredibly dull, I again feel sorry for Vita owners (though PlayStation TV could be a good cheap retro console to own, the absence of the Vita moniker in the West is telling) who were largely ignored, and the most exciting 2014 games (and for me personally 2015 titles, Uncharted, while I respect it and see why people love it, is not my cup of tea) are almost all multi-format titles from both established publishers and developers, and indies. I'd also argue Microsoft have the most interesting console exclusive of 2014 (outside of Nintendo's titles) in Sunset Overdrive, which was a welcome break from big budget development taking itself too seriously.

Right now I think the main beneficiaries of E3 are indies and publishers working across PC, Xbox One and PS4. Without many high profile exclusives on those formats to compete with until (potentially) the second half of 2015, titles like Assassin's Creed: Unity, Witcher 3, Dragon Age, No Man's Sky etc will likely be among the highlights of the next twelve months. While I think Sony's efforts are being overstated and overpraised initially, I think as the dust settles it'll become clear Microsoft have done a lot of good work so far at E3. That being said, I'm not convinced I need either a PS4 or Xbox One this year, I'm much more likely to settle for a gaming PC if I can assemble a strong, cost effective box.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Daniel Hughes on 10th June 2014 12:28pm

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Show all comments (8)
Rick Lopez Illustrator, Graphic Designer 3 years ago
Ive seen all the conferences and here is my take... I must say both SONY and icrosoft Conferences were very even. SONY however has the edge in terms of the amount of content that will be available for their console. However their conference was putting me to sleep. Not that is was bad but it was a bit dull. They took alot of time between introducing a product to cutting to the chase and actually showcasing it. Microsfts enfasis to software was well recived.

I was very suprised at Little Big Planet 3 and i really loved it. The thing that however kills microsoft is the lack of must have exclusives. Sunset Overdrive is not that game and While Forza looks good If your not a racing fan you have very little reason to want the console. However my favorite game in microsofts conference was "Ori and the Blinde forest". Put little enfasis on kinect as SONY did with project Morphius. At the end of the day, these are peripherals that can be used on practically any entertainment device not just gaming devices. And as a gamer they bring little to the table for me. What excites me is the games themselves. And we had alot of that in this E3.

The titles Im excited about are Witcher 3, Dragon Age Inquisition, Arkham Knight, Mighty No.9, The Last of Us Remastered, VAlient Hearts, rise of the Tomb Raider, Ori and the Blind Forest, Killer Instinct, Metal gear Solid V: the Phantom Pain, Rainbow6 Siege, bloodborne, Uncharted 4, Mirrors Edge and The Division.

And lets not forget about Nintendo at this rate they do have a moment to shine if their software lineup is good. Im hoping we get news on Fire Emblem X Shin Megami tensei, "X", Bayonetta 2, and Smash Bros.
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Steve Wetz Reviewer/Assistant Editor, Gamer's Glance3 years ago
I feel like this was a clear win for Sony - just on exclusives alone. I don't really count the cross-gen titles (I'm not that guy who tears his hair out hearing another console has a higher resolution, even if it is cheaper). Sony's courtship of indies has gone a long way and its own robust in-house (counting Naughty Dog) development has been formidible - I might even go so far as to count it nearly even with Nintendo. (the Uncharted series, LittleBigPlanet series, and The Last of Us are really driving that argument).

Sony has continued to make their point. They have the techinically superior and (currently) cheaper console, which gives them an edge in cross-platform titles, and their exclusives, outside of the Halo series, are overall superior. I'm not sure there is much argument at this point, and unless Microsoft starts leveraging their overall superior business assets in a big way, I'm not sure XBox One will ever catch up.
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Nicholas Pantazis Senior Editor, VGChartz Ltd3 years ago
Both companies failed to provide a strong argument for buying into their platforms this year. The 5th LittleBigPlanet game in as many years and Sunset Overdrive aren't exactly system sellers.
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Paul Jace Merchandiser 3 years ago
Replace "games" with "betas" and you have a much more accurate title. Sony's show was all about the betas. There were betas to games, surprise betas available at that moment and even betas to other betas(alphas). There was also some dude up there who forgot he was at E3 and thought it was amateur night at a comedy central stand up show.

Overall the show was very boring, confounded by the fact that Sony doesn't get that they have yet to have two hours worth of decent/entertaining content, just like last year. Instead they always try to stretch about 20-30 minutes of decent content into a full two hours and as a result everything is very drawn out, particularly the more boring and less entertaining parts. The live stream comments were filled with "zzzzz's" and even Spike's E3 wrap-up show made a note of how Sony could have shortened most of what they showed. They really need to make all future conferences 90 minutes or less. Other than The Order I wan't impressed with any of their other exclusives but atleast we got to see Batman: Arkham Knight gameplay....unless that was also taken from a beta.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Paul Jace on 12th June 2014 1:33am

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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 3 years ago
I think Sony needs to take a page from the Oscars (and Nintendo), do a pre-show recorded segment that gets posted online to show of services and other non-gaming stuff, then use that actual live event to just show the games coming. cut the comedy act stuff and drawn out talky stuff and... Show. The. Games.

Microsoft's presser worked well because they did this (but COMPLETELY neglected 360 owners!) and it went over well with me. Except for (and sorry, Insomniac) that asshole Sunset Overdrive character who wasn't funny at all, but reminiscent of some super-hip 90's throwback or the lead character in The Pest with a worse sense of humor. well, the game looks interesting. Too bad it's an exclusive, as it would make more money on both the Xbox One and PS4/vita combo.
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