Sony's "future of play" finally arrived earlier today in the form of PlayStation Meeting 2013, with the official confirmation of the PlayStation 4 and a great general overview of what to expect from its hardware and services come its release later this year.
For many gamers, the announcement and confirmation of the PS4 is enough. But anyone would be hard-pressed to argue that most of it was worth watching. For a console reveal majorly hyped for the last two weeks, the presentation contained a lot more filler than concerete details to excite potential buyers or encourage existing PS owners to prepare for the next iteration, beyond an over-emphasis on social and share integration.
Essential details, like the full spectrum of its online services and clarification about the used games rumours notably never surfaced. Of course, it's still early days, and such things are subject to change at any time. But why should Sony host their own big show outside of E3 if they don't expect to answer such necessary questions? Even a sentence regarding these topics would have been welcome and great for those casual audiences members who probably won't bother to look it up in the months to come.
For me, Sony essentially repeated the mistake Nintendo made in having a console announcement without showing the console and instead showing us the controller. Yes, the share function is cool and wow there's actually a touch-pad, but it seemed like a no-brainer to provide even a glimpse of the console.
Shuhei Yoshida, president of Sony's Worldwide Studios told Kotaku afterwards about why they didn't show the console, and seemed to completely ignore a direct answer: "It was almost the other way around. When we planned for this event, obviously we discussed what we should show and talk about."
"As far as the DualShock 4 is concerned we wanted to do the live demo. And we were like, yeah, we have to show the controller, because it's awkward not to show the controller when someone is doing a demo. And also the feature that the DualShock 4 has, the share button, is a very key idea behind the design of the PS4... We really wanted to explain what we've done with the DualShock 4, but as far as the system itself we have to keep something new for later. Otherwise you'd get bored."
That's what the games and exclusives are for, Yoshida. A hyped up console reveal without the actual console reveal is undeniably an opportunity wasted.
So, what about the games, anyway? Sony let several key companies and their major players take center stage at the presentation today -- Bungie, Blizzard, Capcom, Guerilla Games, Square Enix, and Ubisoft -- to unveil their respective work.
While there was certainly something for everyone and perhaps a lot of unfair but inevitable high expectations from the audience, some presentations missed their mark and some serious opportunity to convince the audience to get ready for Sony's "next-gen".
The most notable of disappointments and missed opportunities was Square Enix. The company has been a major supporter of the PlayStation brand since its debut, and easily one of the major reasons for the PS1's success, but they came on stage today and essentially revealed nothing new.
Don't announce a new Final Fantasy if you aren't going to finish the last announced one.
Sure, we got an extended demo of Agni's Philosophy and the Luminous Engine, which was released months back, and Final Fantasy brand director Shinji Hashimoto teased a new, untitled FF game in development for the PS4... only for Hashimoto to troll and announce, "hey, guess what, you'll have to wait for E3 2013 for more info, trololol." While that's usually the expected response, coming from Square Enix, it's probably not a promise you can be remain fully confident for.
Sony wasted presentation time on SE, time that could have been spent showcasing more exciting game projects from the countless developers probably working for the PS4 right now that just didn't get a spot. Plenty of fans still await Square Enix's long-promised Final Fantasy Versus XIII, a game which was announced back at the beginning of the PS3's lifecycle in 2006, and it was only natural to expect some sort of news on the title. Alas, Square Enix will persist in irritating and disappointing fans for nearly seven years. At least there is FF XIII-3 to look forward too... right?
For me, the other third-party content and news showcased was a lot more exciting and better executed than Sony's first-party studios. The Watch Dogs gameplay demo was extensive and straight to the point and Destiny also the same, where as David Cage rambled about polygons and Media Molecule performed a cringe-worthy PS Move band instead of even a glimpse at a game.
Visually impressive, but is it a key launch title that the PS4 should rely on?
Knack was certainly an interesting choice to show as the first game of the presentation; Sony are clearly striving to find its next cartoon mascot next-gen in the same vein as Crash Bandicoot and Sackboy. However, Killzone: Shadow Fall worries me; if it fills the same role as Resistance: Fall of Man did at the PS3's launch in being a pretty PS4 launch title but with generic, forgettable shooter gameplay, count me out. While it was certainly visually pleasing, graphics can no longer be relied on as the sole buy factor in the future, because the graphical leap forward for consoles won't as noticeable, as the fairly stock-standard shooter-gameplay showcased.
The rest of the line-up, such as Drive Club and Infamous: Second Son, are definitely intriguing and look to be great, but not enough was revealed beyond cinematics to truly become excited. Overall, the presentation was great and I myself was definitely happy that Sony are continuing to focus on first-party exclusives for the fans; but for all of their hype, there were just a few too many missed opportunities to consider the presentation as truly accomplishing what it set out to do.
What is your thoughts on the show? Any highlights? Disappointments? Share in the comments below or in the forums.
By Nathan Misa