The Winner of E3 2013: Sony and the PS4
Note: This is an editorial. The writer’s opinions do not necessarily represent the editors’ of ScreenInvasion.com
Yesterday, Sony held their E3 2013 press conference to formerly show off their brand new baby, the Sony PlayStation 4 in a 2 hour, game-heavy expose. It was quite a show, with some interesting games, some slight manager-speak, and some bombshells that dropped jaws and opened wallets across the Internet. They fired a thunderous volley across Microsoft’s bow and emerged the obvious winner of the next gen.
Watch the press conference below in its entirety:
Sony also released their online requirements: none. Zero. No calling home once a day, no online profile required. No internet connection at all. You know, like a console should be. There was thunderous applause to the affirmation of consumer rights in support of “features” currently available on every single current gen console. They have garnered an intense amount of gamer goodwill by keeping the status quo, something I would not have imagined outside this context. They didn’t change what wasn’t broken. Here’s the magic moment itself:
So here’s the bare facts:
- DRM is left up to the publishers to decide.
- PS4 will impose no restrictions to used games.
- PS4 has no online requirement for offline singleplayer games.
- PS4 does not need to authenticate and treat you like a criminal.
Sony CEO Jack Tretton, beaming from the afterglow of gamer glory, has officially stated that although they are leaving DRM up to third parties, they will not restrict their first party titles in used game sales or online requirements.
Later, Sony also cheekily revealed their incredibly complicated and detailed game sharing plan with the following demo:
Dear Microsoft: the first step after a major burn is to apply cold water to the immediate area.
“Yes, that’s a good thing.”
Who would have though that NFL marketers, game publishers, and cable companies don’t actually buy consoles? All of that multimedia, music and video streaming, social media integration are just icing on a cake. But not if it’s a gigantic turd-flavored layer cake. Netflix and Skype does not sell consoles. Games do. The fundamental relationship between the owner and the object owned is a simple one: you own it, you do what you want with it. Sony tested the waters of DRM a few months ago and felt the heat, backing off all rumors of not supporting used game sales or always-online requirements.
Used game sales, offline play, and lack of DRM have never been a selling point for a console until yesterday. An entire audience was cheering a set of conventions currently in this generation of gaming consoles, and the 3 decades before the PS4. Microsoft is trying to change a paradigm that no gamer was asking to be altered.
Another overlooked gesture of the PS4 is the lack of region locking. International titles will play on the PS4. Since region locking is another form of DRM, Sony is extending another olive branch to gamers, still sulking from the lackluster PS3. They want you back, baby, and they’re pulling out the blue carpet for you.
Their game lineup is… impressive, spanning a wide variety of genres and styles, both triple-A and indie titles alike. The big boys like Watch Dogs, Abe HD, Battlefield 4, Assassin’s Creed IV, and Knack are all slated for a 2013 release, with a plethora of Q1 and Q2 2013 released forthcoming. Since Sony is allowing indie devs to self-publish, expect some fun weirdo console released.
Three Hundred and Ninety Nine US Dollars
That’s right, the final insult to injury is that the PS4 is going to be a full $100 less that the Xbox One. This is a huge boost to the PS4, especially when gamers are feeling the pinch of $60 premium titles, expensive controllers, online subscription services, and the boatload of indie titles self-published on the PS4. You know what happened to the last console Sony undercut by a hundred dollars?
Bugs in the System
Not everything was gravy and golden eggs. Here’s some takeaways I still have issues with:
No more free multiplayer
One of the few outright negatives that came out of the press conference was the big change with PlayStation Plus (or PS+), the Sony premium service. It’s now required for online multiplayer, but nothing else, including game purchases, streaming video and internet browsing. This is a big change for Sony, who didn’t charge for online multiplayer with the PS2 or PS3, and found a cult following with the PS+ free game offerings (aka the Instant Collection). Sony has been generous to its PS+ members, and will allow them to carry over their membership from PS3 and Vita to the PS4, and offer the benefits to all 3 platforms simultaneously. The policies for PS3 and Vita will not change either, and will stay totally free. You see, Microsoft, this is called a positive trade-off: give something up, get something in return.
Gaikai is vague, fog-like
Another area that needs clarification is the Gaikai game streaming service. Very little info about this system has been announced, other than it won’t be available at launch, and will have a limited number of PS3 games at first. Gakai is a cloud-streaming game service purchased by Sony in 2012 to deal with the backwards compatibility. You see, the PS4 won’t play anything except PS4 games, Blu-rays movies, and DVD’s.
This is a huge risk. No console has ever had its back library of previous installments available only through cloud streaming. It makes sense that they’ll want to start small. But give us some specifics. What games will be available? Can I install any game locally I buy? What if my internet hiccups? Is there a PC-like quick save or a buffer? What if Sony decides to shut down Gaikai? Will I lose my entire purchased library? What’s the price point, considering Sony is still producing PS3 games? Lots and lots of questions about a service Sony had been tight-lipped about.
The Last Guardian MIA
The long-awaited game from the creators of Shadow of the Colossus and Ico was a flat-out no show. No trailer, no screenshots, no mention even.
Revel In Your Victory
You see, this is what we wanted from a next gen system: great console hardware, decent price point, a robust game lineup, a more developer-friendly architecture, and most importantly, not to be treated like thieves with obtrusive DRM/online requirements. You are allowed to be excited about this. It’s like they know they have customers or something. Sony gets that, and they know how to communicate it to the gaming public, which is why they’re the clear winner of E3 2013.
Here’s some of my favorite images from yesterday’s interwebs: