Recap of Sony's Gamescom Playstation press event

Credit: Source: Playstation Blog

Sony's Gamescom press conference is over and I wanted to do a quick recap while everything was fresh in my mind. Overall it was a decent presser with Sony seeming to focus more on "A" games rather than "AAA" games, if you know what I mean. Lots of titles that look like they could be solid fun but which probably won't get pushed via million dollar marketing campaigns. I thought this was a bold way to go and for me at least, was more interesting than re-watching trailers of the same games we saw at E3.

Before we get to the PS4 stuff, there was some good news for the current gen consoles. The Playstation Vita is (finally!) getting a price cut, to $199, and the proprietary memory cards are also getting a 'significant' price cut, though no exact numbers were shared there. We should know soon enough; the cuts are supposed to go into effect tomorrow.

That 12 GB PS3 that hit retailers last weekend was announced, and the $199/€199 apparently reflects a price drop in Europe.

OK on to the PS4. Let's cut right to the chase: launch data is November 15th in North America, November 29th in Europe (32 countries, altogether). So much for that tasty October launch date rumor. I can't deny I'm a tad disappointed. The price is $399/€399/£349, as expected, and Sony says it already has over a million pre-orders. How that compares to the Xbox One, only Microsoft knows, but a million pre-orders sounds pretty solid to me.

Once again Sony focused heavily on Indie games; isn't it weird that both of these companies are launching these powerhouse game consoles but putting so much emphasis on Indie games that, for the most part, would run wonderfully on current gen consoles? Indie games are just a bone that Sony and Microsoft are squabbling over at this point. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad Indie games are getting all this attention but I'm just not sure they're how you showcase new hardware. New philosophies, maybe? Anyway here's a list of all the Indie titles for the PS4 & Vita that were mentioned.

Earlier today I called Microsoft out on its claim of Minecraft as an Xbox One exclusive title. They say that Minecraft: Xbox One Edition is the exclusive so technically they are right, but they're looking even sillier with that claim now that Minecraft was announced for the PS4. Maybe Sony will claim that Minecraft PS4 Edition is an exclusive...who knows?

The Playstation 4 has a dedicated Share button that lets you upload gameplay clips to share with friends. Way back at the original reveal Sony tagged uStream as their partner for this offering. That left many gamers scratching their heads, as is a dedicated game streaming service popular with gamers (and the service the Xbox One supports). Well Microsoft isn't the only company doing 180s these days; now Sony says they're supporting Twitch. Whether they're also supporting uStream isn't clear but I'd guess most of their customers will choose Twitch over uStream.

Another welcome tidbit is that you'll be able to play your own music while in a long as that music comes from Sony's Music Unlimited service. Tapping the Playstation button on your controller will bring up an interface to pause/skip/stop playback. It'd be nice to learn that this will work with music streamed from other devices or on the PS4, but the inference today was that this only works with Music Unlimited.

We saw a nice demo of Remote Play where a gamer was playing Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag on the PS4 and then 'handed off' the gameplay to someone using a Vita. This 'off-screen' functionality is really popular on the Wii U. The idea is you're playing a game when someone else in the house needs the TV. With the Wii U you can shift gameplay to the tablet controller. You can do the same thing with a PS4 and a Vita (and, for a few titles, with PS3 and a Vita). In the Playstation ecosystem you're only 'tethered' by your WiFi network (the Wii U tablet controller needs to stay near the Wii U). Of course since a PS4 is $400 and the Vita is another $200, it ought to work better. Still, this is functionality I'm looking forward to, and it is supposed to work with 'most' PS4 titles.

The other day I talked about how Gamestop and Amazon are easing the Xbox 360 to Xbox One transition by offering deals on Xbox One editions of games if you've already purchased the Xbox 360 edition. I guess Sony is paying attention because they announced a similar program, though details are sketchy. First it sounds like it only applies to digital versions of the PS4 editions, and they didn't say exactly how much the discount would be, just that the PS4 versions would be 'significantly discounted' (on the Xbox platform the upgrade will be $10). This felt like a hastily thrown-together announcement of a deal that Sony is in the midst of brokering with publishers rather than something retailers are offering. Expect to learn more in the weeks to come.

And those are the high points, as I remember them. In case you want to watch the entire thing, I'll embed it below. As I said at the top, I thought it was a decent show. I wasn't knocked out of my chair but the only thing I found remotely disappointing was that the PS4 won't be out sooner. I'm still committed to my pre-order. How about you?

Read more of Peter Smith's TechnoFile blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Peter on Twitter at @pasmith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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