After Microsoft’s statements on used games and DRM, everyone waited for Sony to respond. And boy, did it not disappoint. The conference started innocuously enough, with some games for PS3, Vita and discussion about the entertainment side of PS4 (which I believe, almost no one was interested in). After that, the conference started to feel like Sony indirectly ribbing on Microsoft, with them discussing indie self-publishing and such. By the end however, Sony basically fired the cannons, directly targeting Microsoft.
There was a lot of games. Aside from the exclusives announced at the PS4 meeting, such as Drive Club, Killzone and Infamous (all of which received pretty good trailers), there were some new unannounced games making appearances. The Order 1866 by Ready at Dawn and Sony Santa Monica was very impressive visually. While no gameplay was shown, the aesthetics and engine capabilities were demonstrated in full. Multiplat titles such as Destiny, Watch_Dogs, Assassin’s Creed IV and Elder Scrolls online got some impressively long demos which were quite something, Watch_Dogs in particular. However, the real bombs were dropped with Square Enix announcing Versus XIII (which is now Final Fantasy XV) and Kingdom Hearts III. There was even a Mad Max game, made by the Avalanche Studios.
The indie showing was equally strong, with emphasis on developer relations. Transistor, which hit PAX by surprise was confirmed to be in development for PS4, along with many other indie games, such as Outlast, Don’t Starve and Oddworld. What is admirable is the insistence that developers can self-publish, without any interference and transferal of IP.
While the games were impressive in their own right, showing quite a bit of variety, what strikes me as particularly important is the tone of the conference. Sony appeared to be self aware and conscious of consumer’s wishes and requests. The DRM issue was singled out and dealt with in a clear and concise manner, leaving little room for interpretation. No online checks for single-player offline games and no restrictions on used disc based games. The price is also a big thing, with it being $100 lower compared to Xbox One. The only negative news was that PS4 online multiplayer will only be available to PS+ members. However, with rising server infrastructure costs, this is understandable. Also, the fact that PS+ offers a great value through its game content greatly offsets this.
Overall, I believe that this conference was a resounding success. While normally declaring someone as a E3 winner is silly and often quite biased, I believe that Sony’s conference is a brutal blow to any goodwill that Microsoft hoped to garner through their conference. Absence of Vita, while upsetting is understandable. However, I would really love to see some kind of Vita Direct feature in future, so the device won’t simply fade away.