by Shawn McFadden
So unless you are living under a rock, you have probably heard that Sony announced the long-rumored Playstation 4 during their heavily advertised press conference on Feb 20th. Finally we saw a glimpse of the beast of a machine that will be sucking up our money this holiday season. In my opinion, Sony did a wonderful job debuting their new piece of the hardware. I have certainly seen unveils go a lot worse in my day. Although they did a good job, I do think there were a few things that were missing to make it a perfect presentation. This is why I thought I would go over five things I thought Sony did right and five things that Sony did wrong during their debut of the PS4.
What They Did Right.
1. Getting down to business.
Sony really cut to the chase this time. They have been hyping up this meeting for several weeks and they already knew that everyone was aware what was to be announced. We were there to see the PS4. Sony didn't have Jack Tretton come on stage and talk about sales figures that nobody cared about. Nobody came on to talk about how great the Playstation Move or Wonderbook is. Sony got right on stage and said, "We are here to announce the Playstation 4. Here it is." It was a simple but effective way to get everyone's attention.
2. Explaining to us WHY it's the future of Playstation.
Sony didn't beat around the bush. It's obviously that as we move closer to photo realistic graphics, we will never see a graphical jump like what we saw from PS2 to PS3. This didn't stop Sony from telling us why this new console is the future of gaming. Our society is becoming increasingly more integrated with the popularity of smart phones and tablets. This is why Sony made social integration one of the key features of their new console. Sure, they did kind of jack Microsoft's SmartGlass idea, but let's face it: this was going to become standard across all platforms eventually. They also officially announced previously leaked features of the PS4 like the rumored Share button and integration of their newly acquired cloud-based service via Gaikai. It all sounds pretty damn cool. They even showed us console specs, which was certainly a nice touch. Plus, it plays used games after all. Dodged a bullet there!
3. They announced the release date (sort of).
This is a big question whenever companies announce new hardware. We are always thinking, "When can I get my hands on this monstrosity?" Well, Sony was nice enough to announce that PS4 will be coming during the 2013 holiday season. This was no surprise, but it is certainly nice to know when the next generation of consoles is set to start (Not counting Wii U of course).
4. Glorious game demos!
What is a new console without games? Yes, Sony also showed off several games for their new console. Although, it was puzzling that they showed off Knack, the most family oriented of the bunch, as their first announcement due to it not really showing off the extent of PS4's graphical capabilities. It was not surprising however, that a new Killzone game was announced alongside their new console. This was probably the most beautiful demo that was shown, graphically speaking. It certainly shows how FPS games will continue to amaze on Sony's platforms just as they did on the PS3. They also managed to get a couple demos from third party developers such as Square-Enix, Ubisoft, Jonathan Blow and more. Certainly a good way to get gamers excited.
5. A couple epic surprises.
Sony didn't have too many megaton announcements in the game's department at their conference, but the two that they did have were certainly shockers. Blizzard at a console press conference? Has hell frozen over? Blizzard then announced that Diablo III would be coming to PS3 and PS4. Blizzard partnering with any console manufacturer is certainly a big deal. Especially since they have almost never put any of their games on any platform other than PC. This wasn't as big of a shock as Bungie crashing the conference though. That's right, Bungie. Bungie appearing at a SONY press conference. Let it sink in for a moment. Bungie, who has always been the darling of Microsoft, comes out and says that Destiny will be coming out with exclusive content for PS3 and PS4. I'm sure that Microsoft felt a little betrayed after this announcement. This just shows how Sony is not taking any prisoners this generation. This does beg the question of what did Microsoft do to piss of one of their key game studios.
What They Did Wrong
1. Where's the box?
I know it's a very small thing, but it was rather puzzling that Sony showed off their new controller but did not show off the prototype for what the actual PS4 console was going to look like. It's true that the console's design may not be finalized yet but it would have been nice to at least have an idea how this box that will be sitting next to our TV for the next 5-7 years will look.
2. How much will it cost?
Sure, this may have been a strategic decision. Sony may not want to announce their price before Microsoft does so they can make sure they price it competitively. This is a big factor to whether or not people will buy the thing or not. Though, Sony was nice enough to say that it will be competitively priced. I assume this means that it won't be repeating the mistake of coming out with the notorious $599.99 price tag that has become a joke among gamers that the PS3 launched with. I'm sure that Sony had to save something to reveal at E3 though.
3. Sony Exclusives MIA.
Sony did show off a lot of cool games at their press conference, but I can't help but feel that there were certain Sony studios that should have shown up at the conference. What has Naughty Dog been working on lately? I know that they are working on the Last of Us, but they have told us several times that they are a two team studio now. So what is their other game? What has Sony Santa Monica been working on lately? Ready At Dawn? Super Bot? Wait, never mind about that one. It was also a shame that all Quantic Dream had to show off was a simple tech demo. I want to see their next game for PS4! There is clearly a lot that Sony has under wraps. I just can't help but feel that they could have shown more. And I have to ask, Where the hell is the Last Guardian?
4. Under-Utilizing Media Molecule.
Wait, the Playstation Move is still a thing? Don't get me wrong, I think it's an amazing peripheral. I would even go as far to say that it's the best motion gaming accessory on the market. Sony just doesn't have enough support for it. This was probably the most surprising part of their press conference. They decided to bring out Media Molecule and have them show their new "sculpting" tool using the Move. Is it a new game? I have no idea. If all they showed was the sculpting, it would have been fine. Too bad Media Molecule broke one of the basic rules of giving a press conference: No virtual band demonstrations! I'm looking at you, Nintendo. It's just plain painful and is never something we want to see. If they said that this was a new mechanic that was to be used for the new 3D Little Big Planet, it would've been far more acceptable. Too bad this ended up being the "Wonderbook" of the presentation.
5. The Wow Factor.
Sure, it wasn't as sparse as when Nintendo showed off the Wii U, but there just wasn't that one game that made you say, "Wow, I am buying this system." Sure, Killzone looked gorgeous. Unfortunately, Killzone has never really been a game that has gotten the sales it deserves though. The same can be said about the Infamous franchise. Knack looks cute and charming but it hardly looks like a system seller. Jonathan Blow's new game looks to be another wonderful artistic experience a-la Journey or the Unfinished Swan, but nobody is going to buy a system for that. We already knew about Watch Dogs, so that wasn't a big surprise. Where is the Uncharted of this generation? Sony needed that one game that shows everyone how great the PS4 is. I may be overly critical with this, but this is very important. Sony did a wonderful job showing off their new console and I hope that they can make their showing at E3 this year something truly special. Sony, I wish you the best of luck. See you on in June!