There will be no restrictions of any kind on used games on PlayStation 4. There will be no online authentication requirement. But you will need PlayStation Plus for multiplayer games.
At a glance
In the wake of Sony’s E3 presentation, the PlayStation 4 still does not have a firm release date – but it does have a price, and that price is $399/£349/€399/AU$549 – significantly lower than the Xbox One’s $499.
Sony had clearly been listening to consumer opinion over Microsoft’s console, as SCE America president Jack Tretton was obviously very conscious of the import of his words when he announced that Sony will be making no changes to its used games or online authentication requirements with the PlayStation 4.
What that means is: you can buy and sell used games; gift games to friends; and play games offline to your heart’s content, at no extra cost.
Unfortunately, it does seem that Sony is, at last, introducing a fee for online play; just like Xbox Live, you’ll only be able to access online multiplayer if you have a subscription. On the bright side, this subscription is PlayStation Plus, which costs about $5 per month, and includes a significant amount of bonus content.
Current PlayStation Plus subscriptions will be automatically extended to the PlayStation 4, and when the console launches, DriveClub will be the first game added to the Instant Collection.
Games-wise, Sony hosted several new announcements. The Order: 1886 is a new, steampunk IP from Ready At Dawn and Sony Santa Monica. Final Fantasy Versus XII is now Final Fantasy 15 and is coming to both PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4. Kingdom Hearts 3 is coming to PlayStation 4. Final Fantasy 14: A Realm Reborn is coming to PlayStation 4, as is The Elder Scrolls Online and multiple indies. Avalanche Studios’ Mad Max was formally unveiled at last. The Dark Sorcerer is a new property from Quantic Dream; it currently exists as a tech demo, and it’s not clear whether it’s being developed into a game or not.
Killzone: Shadow Fall, Knack and DriveClub were confirmed as PlayStation 4 launch titles. The PS4 will support a Gaikai-powered catalogue of games called Cloud Service which launches in 2014 in the US.
It was a solid conference; for a full, chronological report (Vita, PS3, PS4, games and closing announcements) please see below – and don’t forget to check out the articles in the side bar for trailers, screens, and more information where available.
The conference began a few minutes late as the crowd took its seats; this happens every year and generally results in some decent firmware update jokes. When the show began, it did so with the usual Sony mood trailer, with quick snippets of many different current and upcoming games, lots of flashing lights and context-free buzz words.
SCE America president Jack Tretton then turned up, and thanked fans who lined up from noon on Friday to try and secure a place at the conference, as well as the millions of PlayStation fans whose passion has driven him throughout his career.
Commenting that 2013 has already been a really exciting year for PlayStation, Tretton said he was looking forward to sharing more news about the new platform, but that the 70 million PlayStation 3 and Vita fans need to be addressed first.
We kicked off with the Vita, with Tretton saying that Vita customers have purchased about ten games each, with nearly 60% of all purchases made through the PlayStation Store. He said the system now has a library of 120 dedicated games. This will only grow – “especially indie and smaller titles” – and 80 games will launch by the end of this year including Batman: Arkham Origins, Doki Doki Universe, Killzone Mercenary, Tearaway, and Destinies of Spirits.
Sony’s also remastering classics for Vita – God of War 1 and 2, Flower, Dead Nation, Final Fantasy X and X2.
The Walking Dead’s new episode, 400 Days, is coming in northern summer. It will release in a special bundle with the rest of the series on Vita.
The portable’s connectivity was highlighted next, thanks to its PlayStation 4 Remote Play feature and apps like Skype and Netflix.
Tretton then moved onto the PlayStation 3, saying that this year’s E3 line-up is as good or even better than past years’, despite the fact that the console’s successor is on the horizon.
The first game shown was The Last of Us, followed by Puppeteer; Rain; Beyond: Two Souls; and Gran Turismo 6. Sony really didn’t waste any time here; since we already know about these games, it just powered through with short clips reminding us they exist. The Beyond: Two Souls part was pretty interesting as it was new material from Jodie’s material career; hopefully we’ll get that bit in a trailer shortly after the show.
The Last of Us is the highest-rated game on all platforms to date, Tretton added as the PS3 reel closed, noting that Naughty Dog has created two of the highest-rated franchises ever. Somehow or other this was seen as an appropriate jumping off point for a Batman: Arkham Origins trailer. Okay. The PlayStation 3 version will have exclusive content – Nightfall DLC, and a 1960’s TV show Batman skin.
Grand Theft Auto 5 was next; there will be an exclusive GTA5 PS3 bundle, which will go for $299, and Sony has produced a GTA5 branded headset. Interestingly, Tretton said more GTA5 news is coming in the next few weeks.
There will be over 300 PlayStation 3 releases by the end of the year, Tretton said, before moving on to next-gen.
SCE group president Andrew House took over at this point, talking up the “unparalleled power” of PS4, and finally showed off the product design.
The box was quickly escorted back offstage, and Sony went on to talk about the PlayStation 4’s role as a media centre and connected device in general.
Sony Pictures and Entertainment division CEO Michael Lynton then turned up, his first appearance at a PlayStation event. Sony spent a few minutes discussing the various kinds of TV and movies you can view on existing and upcoming entertainment apps on the PlayStation Network – but then said that Sony Pictures will be producing PSN content specifically tailored to gamers, not just general entertainment.
Music Unlimited and Video Unlimited will be better than ever, House returned to say, with both services available from day one of the PlayStation 4’s lifetime, with access to the full catalogue of both services.
PlayStation 3 is the number one device for streaming Netflix to the living room, House said, and Sony will soon add Redbox Instant to its lineup as well as Flixster. Sony is “working hard” to bring these services to PS4, he added.
Yoshida brings the games
Finally, it was time to talk about games, and Worldwide Studios boss Shuhei Yoshida took the stage. “For the last five years, Worldwide Studios has been an integral part of the development of the PS4,” he said.
Worldwide Studios is the largest network of development studios in the world, he said, and this has enabled Sony to take on board feedback from game developers big and small in creating the new console.
“It’s like I have a second job as a pro customer service officer on Twitter,” Yoshida joked at one point. Follow him: @yosp
Sony Santa Monica’s new IP was the first game shown. The trailer showed a very steampunk world, with medieval costumes, guns, industrial revolution style architecture, and zeppelins.
A group of badasses in a carriage and pair went zooming through the streets of an Edwardian or Victorian-era city – it felt a bit Dishonored – but there was radio chatter, and what seemed to be a light railway on an elevated platform.
The badasses – Galahad, Raphael, and one other – began shooting with what looked like a chain gun and a plasma rifle.
It’s called The Order: 1886. No gameplay was shown; it was all cinematic.
Although it was introduced with a SCE Santa Monica logo, The Order is the product of Ready At Dawn, a studio which has previously only handled job work for Sony; presumably the team is working alongside the more experienced developer.
Next up was Knack, SCE Japan’s new property. Having dabbled in new IPs, Sony went back to sequels, showing two games we’re already quite familiar with – Infamous: Second Son and Killzone: Shadowfall.
Driveclub, Knack and Killzone: Shadow Fall will be launch titles for the PS4, Yoshida confirmed.
The next trailer was for The Dark Sorcerer, from Quantic Dream; Yoshida paused to reassure us that the footage shown was running in real-time on a PS4. You may remember the old man featured in the trailer from David Cage’s PS4 announcement appearance. We’re not sure if it’s a game or a tech demo yet. Consensus is gathering in the latter camp.
Indie, Indie, Indie
Supergiant Games – Transistor
Klei Entertainment – Don’t Starve
Mercenary Kings – Tribute Games
Octodad: The Dadliest Catch – Young Horses
Oddworld: New & Tasty – Just Add Water
Galaxy – 17bit Games
Outlast – Red Barrels Games
Secret Ponchos – Switchblade Monkeys Entertainment
Supergiant Games turned up to introduce the indie contingent, with a new trailer for the gorgeous Transistor. It was followed by Don’t Starve from Klei Entertainment; Mercenary Kings, from the team behind Scott Pilgrim vs The World; Octodad: The Dadliest Catch (here, Sony made a joke about historical accuracy and giant enemy crabs); Oddworld: New & Tasty; Galaxy, from Skulls of the Shogun developer 17bit; Red Barrels’ horror title Outlast; and Secret Ponchos from Switchblade Monkey Entertainment.
Heading back to triple-A, Sony mentioned that Diablo 3 will have exclusive PlayStation content including armour inspired by Journey.
Square Enix’s Tetsuya Nomura made an appearance via video conferencing to introduce a new trailer for – yes – Final Fantasy Versus 13. It’s coming to PlayStation 4, and it’s now called Final Fantasy 15. Well done, rumourmongers.
This being Square Enix, we were shown an exquisite rendered trailer focusing on Noctis’s relationship with his father, before moving on to what looked like gameplay footage. Noctis was shown hiding behind furniture and attacking enemies via leaps and what seemed to be a zip line. there were a lot of guns, Latin chanting, and a behemoth. Somebody started talking about a crystal. The world went all Escher, with Noctis running around on airborne bits of masonry. There was a lot of dramatic dialogue. It’s Final Fantasy.
Square Enix also brought a surprise – a trailer for Kingdom Hearts 3. That is a real thing. I think I broke a rib with the force of my disbelieving gasp.
Not content with blowing our minds twice already, Square Enix is also bringing Final Fantasy 14: A Realm Reborn to PlayStation 4.
Next up was Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag which we’ve all already seen about a dozen times; the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 versions will have an exclusive playable character in Aveline, the protagonist of Assassin’s Creed 3: Liberation. Since Liberation and Assassin’s Creed 3 were contemporary, and Assassin’s Creed 4 takes place at least one generation earlier, one can only assume she’ll appear in an extra memory sequence of some kind.
Ubisoft seems determined to make sure everybody everywhere sees its games, as it next showed Watch Dogs. I’ll be very disappointed if I found out the footage shown wasn’t live PlayStation 4 capture as it looked stunning – especially during the rainy external sequences. There will be an exclusive mission and costume in the PlayStation versions.
NBA 2K14 was up next, with Lebron James shown alongside his digital replica to show off how good next-gen graphics look. Everyone instantly forgot about this when Bethesda announced that The Elder Scrolls Online would be coming to PlayStation 4; one of its beta tests will have exclusive early access on the console.
Apparently not happy with ruining my keyboard, Sony made me spit-take on my monitor too, as Mad Max was finally confirmed, with a CG trailer. It is, indeed, an Avalanche Studios production – the Just Cause 2 developer has been very quiet since Mercenary Ops. It’s not clear if the title is an exclusive; Tretton said PlayStation fans will have access to exclusive content, suggesting it is not.
No restrictions on used PS4 games
Jack Tretton came back on stage and dropped two bombs: the PlayStation 4 will not impose any restrictions on used games. It will not require you to authenticate online. Tretton said the model Sony has used with PlayStation 3 has worked to date, so why change it?
Part of the crowd literally broke into a chant of “Sony, Sony, Sony” at this point.
On top of that, PlayStation Plus subscriptions will carry over to PlayStation 4. The service will now cover Vita, PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 for the one subscription fee. DriveClub will be added to Instant Colection when the console launches. Don’t Starve, Outlast and The Secret Ponchos will also come to Instant Collection.
Unfortunately, there was one downer; Sony mentioned that non-PlayStation Plus members will “have access to single-player games“. It looks like, as with Xbox Live for the past two generations, you’ll now need to subscribe in order to take advantage of the full network offering of Sony’s console. The executive did point out that the PlayStation Network is getting a ton of new features with PlayStation 4, such as game sharing, faster downloads, and native streaming.
To perk us back up from this bit of a downer downer, Tretton introduced the gameplay debut of Destiny, Bungie’s new shared-worlds shooter. It showed players easily meeting up to complete missions and participate in public events. Like an MMO, other players were spotted doing their own thing.
To our surprise, Sony announced something capitalising on its acquisition of Gaikai – Cloud Service. This service will give instant access to a large catalogue of games. No details were given, but the fact that Sony has something at all this early is impressive.
House closed the conference by saying that the PlayStation 4 will cost $399/£349/€399. He said Sony puts consumer trust first, which could be interpreted as a sly dig at Microsoft’s recent unpopularity. It went down a treat.