Sony has been on a roller coaster the past year. One year ago we were still dealing with the fourth largest hack in our history when the PSN was taken down for more than a month, compromising over 25 million accounts and passwords. While this was a PR nightmare, Sony bounced back and got back on their feet by offering users free PSN games, free trials for PlayStation Plus and other free goodies. 2011 brought us the news of the PlayStation Vita, the handheld follow-up to the PlayStation Portable which was the only portable in history to legitimately compete with the Nintendo handheld series. While it did release in its home territory in 2011, eager Westerners had to wait until February of this year to get their hands on the system. Nowadays we are seeing Japanese sales data coming out that not only is the Wii outselling the Vita, but the PSP is outselling it week over week. We also saw in the past year Sony unleash a maelstrom of exclusives such as Infamous 2, Uncharted 3 and the return of Twisted Metal to eager gamers which was a huge plus over the arguments back in 2007 of “PS3 has no gamezzzz!”
Some would think Sony is in a hole trying to claw their way back to the top, but there are a few key areas they can work on. Here’s what I think Sony needs to do to come into E3 to make naysayers take notice.
Focus on Vita
Now that the Vita is out in all territories, its time for them to ratchet production up to full speed. Going into E3 we know little of what the back half of 2012 will have for the new system, which is leading many to believe that they will unveil the next 12 month cycle for the system at their press conference in a month. Sony has said they have a 5 to 10 year life cycle planned for the system, including the first 2 years already planned out completely. We know little of what the holidays will hold for the system and this is the venue to blow people’s socks off with new releases.
I would like to see them announce some new IPs for the system. Gravity Rush is a fantastic step in the right direction as being an experience you can only have with the Vita, utilizing both front and back touch as well as the gyroscopes. The horribly generic titled Warrior’s Lair will be showing off the ability to play the game on your Vita and PS3. We need more games that utilize the functions of the system in a fantastic way. We also need to see some more franchises cross the gap from the PS3 as well. Uncharted and Resistance are a fantastic step in this direction with Little Big Planet coming soon as well, why not throw Sweet Tooth and Cole McGrath into the mix and have more exclusive Twisted Metal or Infamous games to play with the system. The huge reason people have not picked up the system yet is that there are hardly any games to play for it yet, a similar outcry heard in 2007 with the PS3. The PS3 bounced back in a huge way, the Vita can do the same. Let them announce heavy hitters like Final Fantasy Type-0 HD, a new Grand Theft Auto or something else to shock the world.
Lets also see some expanded functionality with the system too. Make cross play a much bigger feature, drop the prices of the memory cards and unveil a video output cable so we can play some of the games on the big screen if we want to. What about incorporating PlayStation Mini’s into their own little App store to compete with what Apple is doing with the iOS platform. Arguably the Mini system already in place for the PS3 and PSP is a failure, with prices sometimes reaching as high as other PSN titles with only offering the depth of a .99 cent iOS title. We already know many developers were given the system for free to encourage more games for the platform, why not break down the barrier of entry on producing a title for the system by having a dedicated area for indie developers to call their own. The system is less than 6 months old and Sony needs to really strike home that we all badly need this new system and now is the time to do it.
Keep the PS3 Momentum Going
Sony has unveiled quite a bit the last couple of months of some of their titles planned for this year. So far we know that Little Big Planet Karting, Ratchet and Clank HD Collection and PlayStation All Stars Battle Royale are all slated for this year. While we expect it to be this years “Uncharted”, The Last of Us is rumored to be the big November release that will bring in the hardcore crowd for the holidays. They also announced God of War: Ascension for Spring 2013, so many of Sony’s cards have been played for new releases for the next 9 months or so. Why would Sony choose to offer these tidbits and releases now when they could have so easily saved them to announce at E3? Maybe Sony has much bigger cards up their sleeve instead.
Sucker Punch usually works on a two-year schedule and have been working on their new project of the past year without saying anything. Most likely this is Infamous 3 and I wouldn’t be surprised if Sony pulled back the curtain for this title come June to show the world what they have been working on. The company also likes to have their “just one more thing” moment at their press conference to really shock and excite their fans. They did it two years ago with Twisted Metal being announced, even after David Jaffe said that not only was he NOT working on the game, but it definitely was not going to be at E3. Maybe we might officially see Final Fantasy Versus XIII in all of its glory? The Last Guardian being officially dated for this year? Syphon Filter finally making a next-gen come back? Let’s see them go out with a bang.
Teasing the PlayStation 4
Nintendo will be in full Wii U mode at E3, and both Microsoft and Sony have said they will not be talking about their next platform at the trade show. I call BS. While I don’t expect a full-blown unveil of the system, rumored to be called Orbis, I do hope to hear that they make some sort of announcement that the system will be seen more at either Tokyo Game Show later this year or a separate event to unveil the system to the world. It’s no secret the system is in development and developers have dev kits in-house, so news on the system are sure to come sooner rather than later.
If Sony wanted to be truly ballsy they could unveil the system like they did with the PS3 many years ago by showing off some concept trailers and videos alongside the prototype system and controller. Wouldn’t have been the first time Sony lied about their E3 plans and it would be sure to steal some thunder away from Nintendo being the only one there to talk about new hardware. Usually when people talk about who “won” E3, it’s usually a company that comes in and shows off a new piece of hardware or tech to wow show comers.
If Sony came in with new on these three pillars, I believe they could really steal the spotlight at the show. Time will tell as Sony plans to have their E3 press briefing on June 4th at 6 PM PST. t3chniq will be in full briefing mode to tell you all the details. Come back tomorrow to read my thoughts on what Microsoft needs to kill it at E3!