Yesterday was pretty interesting. It was basically press conference day, or Day Zero, of Gamescom over in Cologne, Germany, similar to the day before the madness starts in Los Angeles for E3. The difference, however, is that there are far fewer than E3. Yesterday saw EA and Sony take the stage (Microsoft just went for a smaller showcase event) and both highlighted what they have currently going on and what they have to look forward to.
EA was, well, EA. There were no big announcements, though there sure were big trailers, the biggest of which were for Titanfall and Battlefield 4. They also showed off The Sims 4 (with an extremely…odd example of human psychology and emotion), FIFA 14, Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare, Need for Speed: Rivals, Dragon Age: Inquisition, and Command & Conquer. Titanfall, if you weren’t aware, looks great and, based on what I’ve gotten my hands on, plays great, and Battlefield 4 looks pretty and, well, that’s about it. Not much to say there besides Levolution. (God damn nonsense marketing.)
But then Sony went up and opened with what can only be called an interactive theater art piece. Shuhei Yoshida, president of Sony’s Worldwide Studios, sat motionless in a giant armchair facing away from the audience. Then he just began to mess around with the PlayStation 4, signing in and streaming Killzone: Shadow Fall before seamlessly jumping into the action himself (and then tweeting a screenshot). It was nearly five whole minutes before a single word was uttered.
Sony’s Indie Acquisitions
After announcing that Borderlands 2 would be making its way to the Vita, president and CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment Europe Jim Ryan revealed that Fez, Starbound, and Velocity 2X would all be headed to the Sony portable as well.
We’ve known for a while that Phil Fish was in talks with Sony to get Fez onto the PlayStation Network, but combined, the three acquisitions (with Rogue Legacy from Cellar Door Games and Wasteland Kings from Vlambeer and and and, talked about later in the event) represent that Sony isn’t just interested in bringing developers into the fold but also getting interesting games along with them. Starbound and Velocity 2X have existed for quite some time before yesterday, and Sony saying that they managed to convince the developers to partner up and port those games over show a commitment to their new philosophy.
Vita Price Drops
As of yesterday during the press conference, all Vita models are $199, down from $249 for the Wi-Fi and $299 for the 3G models. This coincides with a price drop in memory cards, the 4 GB going from $19.99 to $14.99 and the 32 GB going from $99 to $79. Both of these are pretty big news seeing as how price is probably the biggest hurdle for consumers to clear now that Sony has put on display their commitment to making the handheld work. They’ve got new games, they’re porting over popular games, and they’ve got new, lower prices. This could be a big move from the company.
Gran Turismo Date and Movie
While the Gran Turismo has long since stopped getting me all revved up, I do realize that each release into the franchise is a fairly big deal. As such, we can all look forward to Gran Turismo 6 on December 6, 2013, though a new trailer should hold us over until then.
We also got confirmation on those weird movie rumors floating around a few weeks ago: The Social Network and Fifty Shades of Grey film producers Michael de Luca and Dana Brunetti are indeed working on the big screen adaptation of Gran Turismo. Because that makes sense.
More Potshots at Microsoft
Overall, you could say Sony is confident. They’ve got some great exclusives lined up, they’re getting great feedback, and they’re console ostensibly works. I would say they’ve earned some of that swagger. But they also continue to take potshots at Microsoft. Remember when they made that video demonstrating how sharing games works on the PlayStation 4? Well, now they’re eschewing the production values and just going for body blows. Andrew House, president of Sony Computer Entertainment, had this to say as he announced the launch date of their upcoming console:
“While others have shifted their message and changed their story, we were consistent in maintaining policies and a model that is fair and in tune with consumer desires.” (They also tweeted something to the same effect.)
It’s an obvious and pointed jab at the fact that Microsoft did a 180 on pretty much everything people were complaining about. It started out fun and cute, but now it’s becoming, I don’t know, aggressive? Instead of pointing out what they’re doing right, it feels an awful lot like Sony is pointing out now what Microsoft is doing or has done wrong. At what point does it become too much?
So we already know Sony is bringing over a few existing, high-profile indie games over to their platforms, but they’ve also got new ones coming, too. The big one that really grabbed people was this horrifically strange and dark game called Murasaki Baby, a side-scrolling touch-control platformer for the Vita from Ovosonico. You play as this girl with an upside-down(?) head and must traverse a terrifying landscape by seemingly breaking through the fourth wall to aid her.
Tequila Works is also developing Rime, a beautiful action adventure game that looks like a cross between Ico and The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. You may recognize the studio as the one behind Deadlight, the 2D survival horror game from late last year. It was a promising game full of neat ideas but ultimately failed to execute many of them. Hopefully they can get both halves working together this time because boy is my interest piqued.
The Chinese Room, the developers behind the fantastic and hard-to-explain Dear Esther, is working on Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture for the PlayStation 4. They’ve already got Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs in the works, so it’s obvious they’ve got a thing for atmospheric titles, and this looks extremely that. It’s a first-person adventure game made in CryEngine 3 and, well, that’s all we know.
There’s also a band festival simulator thing called BigFest where you’ll promote events and bands and I don’t know but it looks interesting, thought admittedly we’ve known something named BigFest has existed since January. Helldivers and Resogun, a top-down and a side-scrolling shooter respectively, also look pretty neat.
Launch Date (and Other Things)
Perhaps the biggest piece of news from yesterday is that the PlayStation 4 will officially be launching in North America on November 15th and in Europe and Latin America on November 29th. Pre-orders are already over one million, so jump in now if you so desire. Or don’t, whatever. I’m not your accountant.
In regards to services, Sony has officially partnered with Twitch for streaming and you can now listen to music while you play games via Sony’s Music Unlimited service. Plus there’s this new broadband access plan that sounds pretty gross since it includes tiered access priority, but who knows. It might prove fruitful for those struggling to get consistent Internet access.