Sony shows off new, exclusive JK Rowling content at its E3 Press Conference
Sony was the second of the 'big three' video game companies to hold their E3 Press Conference, scheduling it so as to maximize at-home viewing. It happened at 6 PM local time, 9 PM on the East Coast, and Sony said they were broadcasting the show live in 4 languages, both streaming via various outlets on the web as well as on TV (I took it in via G4's TV station).
I expected the show to be heavily weighted towards the Playstation Vita but actually Sony put on a very well rounded show, and they showcased a variety of game styles so in theory there was something there for everything.
Game titles ranged from developer Quantic Dream's (Heavy Rain) new title Beyond, staring actress Ellen Page and using the tech shown off in the Kara video a few months back, to peppier, lighter fare like Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale which, let's be honest, is a Super Smash Brothers rip-off using Playstation characters. It does offer cross play between PS3 and Vita though, and looked like good fun.
Other blockbuster titles put on display included Assassin's Creed 3 as well as an AC side-story coming out on the Vita and featuring a lady assassin, God of War: Ascension and, to close out the conference on a high note, Naughty Dog's amazing looking The Last of Us in which you play a guy with a little girl side-kick trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic landscape.
As much as Xbox 360 emphasized military FPS, Sony de-emphasized them, though they did mention that a Call of Duty: Black Ops game is coming to the Vita.
Getting away from 'core' games, Sony spent a little time talking up the Playstation Network and Playstation Plus program (members of which will get free access to Infamous 2, Little Big Planet 2 and Saint's Row 2 starting tomorrow) as well as mentioning that Hulu Plus and Crackle TV (as well as the previously announced YouTube) apps will be coming to the Vita soon.
Then there were Wonderbooks. Wonderbooks is a new program that combines a physical book with the Playstation Move and Playstation Eye to bring storybooks to life via ARG. This probably would've been just a blip in the conference except the first title, Book of Spells, was written by Harry Potter author JK Rowling. The book puts you in the role of a new student at Hogwarts and, using the Move controller as a magic wand, you need to learn to cast spells and accomplish other tasks. It looked like something that could be a hit with kids and that might get played behind closed blinds by parents once the little ones are in bed.
Mobile gaming was mentioned in the context of the Playstation Suite, which has been rebranded with the much more sensible moniker Playstation Mobile. Sony announced their first partner to come out with a 3rd party "Playstation Certified" handset, and it was HTC, though which handset it was wasn't made clear. I think Sony needs to start going back and certifying existing hardware if they want to gain any traction.
And those were the high points. I was happy to see some new IPs being introduced rather than sequel after sequel, and I personally am a lot more excited about Sony's lineup than I am about what Microsoft had to offer, but again I have to emphasize that I'm not a FPS shooter fan. Sony's titles seem more skewed towards adventure and narrative and 3rd person action over staring down a gunsight.
Tomorrow morning, Nintendo gets its day in the sun. With the Wii U up its sleeve Nintendo ought to be able to 'win' E3, but we'll see!
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