Hit for six: creative Sony plays gamescom blinder

Tuesday, 14 August 2012 23:19 GMT By Patrick Garratt

Sony’s gamescom 2012 presentation proved the company’s breadth and vision for the PlayStation brand has the strongest of futures. Patrick Garratt was bowled over.

Instead of laying out a strategy of stimulating hardware with cost reductions, Sony said it would make people want to own and value its consoles and services by cramming them with inveigling games and spellbinding ideas.

There are times when platforms holders have to get it right. Sony, as with the rest of the under-the-TV industry, has found itself in a strange, distressed place of late. The games market’s diversifying practically beyond recognition, leaving the PS3 business potentially sapped, and the triple-A software’s drying up as we bluster on into the transition. After a virtual no-show at E3, many had pushed Vita into an early grave. Faith needed to be restored.

And so it was today. Sony’s gamescom presentation not only answered the question of whether or not Vita has even a near-term future, but was so strong in its variety of software, channel announcements and platform coverage as to leave the stunted worries of whether or not we’re going to get Christmas price cut left leaping for attention behind a tip-toeing barrage of creative bedazzlement.

Sony showed so much software, and dropped so many surprises, that the show verged on embarrassment. We saw four new IPs – one of which was Media Molecule’s beautiful Tearaway – and got a first showing of Call of Duty: Black Ops Declassified. We saw a Vita Killzone title, and got a real sense that Sony understands that PlayStation needs to be everywhere and always. We got PS Plus for Vita, twin-screen Vita ideas working in LittleBigPlanet, Vita bundles and bumped PS Cloud storage. We get Red Dead Redemption for Plus. We got, to be fair, a hell of a lot for our money.

Sony showed today that it’s not scared to be creative outside of the near-absurd rigidity of its E3 presentations, and again revelled in Europe’s boutique appeal. Puppeteer and Rain both looked fantastic, both uniquely PlayStation. We got a first look at Until Dawn. Sony even went as far as putting a future on Move, using up its FIFA slot for the motion device and showing a distinct – if slightly unconvincing – line-up of Move games. Every announcement and presentation in the show was a statement of intent.

And if it wasn’t enough to be bombed by new IP and technical innovation, Jim Ryan actually carried the whole thing off. SCEE’s latest boss is clearly a man who’s been practising in front of the mirror: he looked confident to his bones. Even worldwide studios chief Michael Denny seemed relaxed. You know you’ve had a good showing when you can announce a peripheral-based e-learning product to one of the toughest crowds in entertainment and they lap it up. Tonight, Sony could do no wrong.

Going into the conference, it was easy to aim for a Vita price cut, a PS3 price cut and strong conviction that Declassified was Vita’s killer app. Leaving it, CoD was merely the cherry on a giant, game-filled cake. Instead of laying out a strategy of stimulating hardware with cost reductions, Sony said it would make people want to own and value its consoles and services by cramming them with inveigling games and spellbinding ideas. Is PS3 still strong? There’s no doubt that it is. Does Vita have enough exclusives on the way to justify buying it without a price cut? After tonight, it does.

There are times when platforms holders have to get it right. Sony got it right at gamescom 2012.

Latest