As part of our coverage for E3 2015, Shacknews is taking a look back at last year's press conferences to see what panned out, what didn't, and what it all means for our expectations this year. Today we turn our eyes toward Sony.
Vague Sense of Exclusivity
As opposed to Microsoft playing defense, Sony knew it had taken a dominant position in the console market. The company was careful not to take too boastful a tone, but it certainly wasn't the scrappy underdog of years past.
To press its advantage, Sony spent a lot of time emphasizing exclusivity on PlayStation platforms. However, it offered somewhat vague and often inconsistent wording on what that exclusivity meant. Sometimes, the promise of exclusive games or content meant just that: it would only be housed on PlayStation platforms. Other times, it would mention an "exclusive" game that was also coming to PC, like Grim Fandango or Magicka 2. It did sometimes refer to these reveals as "console exclusives," as in the case of a long line-up of Devolver Digital games, but not always. The inconsistency made for some confusion about just what was, and wasn't, destined only for PlayStation.
To its credit, though, Sony did properly and consistently identify timed exclusives.
What We Can Expect: The various levels of exclusivity in modern games are hard for consumers to track, and Sony certainly wants to emphasize its own special offerings. As a result, we'll probably see more hazy phrasing at this year's event, with details of what it all means coming out days or even weeks later. Keep this in mind as you watch the show, listen carefully, and be somewhat skeptical.
The Longest Ride
For years, Sony has been notorious for putting on the lengthiest of the press conferences. Partly due to it habitually snagging an evening spot, Sony conferences can go near or even over two hours. Microsoft, at an hour-and-a-half, is the closest second. Nintendo tends to keep its digital presentations to a single hour, with other reveals scattered throughout its Treehouse interviews.
The extra half-hour affords Sony some freedom to stretch its legs. Last year it used this to shine a spotlight on more indies, as opposed to Microsoft's quick sizzle-reel. It allowed them to be playful with silly segments like the fan letter portion that introduced Grim Fandango. And, in contrast to Microsoft which focused entirely on games, Sony took the extra time to talk about its entertainment plans with the Powers series, and upcoming hardware and services like the PlayStation TV and PlayStation Now.
At the same time, the sheer length and more easygoing pace can make the Sony conference drag. Though the company kept its statistics to a minimum, that practice always grinds conferences to a halt and acts as an intermission of sorts. The tone ends up feeling a bit more slow and leisurely than its competitors.
What We Can Expect: Sony has another two-hour block mapped out, so we're certain to see some of this persist. The company will have more room for special segments and indie highlights, and we're likely to get some time devoted to upcoming hardware like Project Morpheus. On the other hand, a stat dump seems almost inevitable as well.
For the market leader, Sony actually didn't make all that many solid promises at last year's E3. Its first-party release dates and reveals of exclusive content and features in games like Destiny and Far Cry 4 panned out, but on the whole the conference was filled with trailers that didn't promise particular dates or details. That means less chances for anything to slip, but it also means we can't credit them for fulfilling too many commitments either.
Most of Sony's broken promises were simply bad phrasing regarding exclusivity, as detailed above. It did commit to 25 free-to-play games within 12 months, but didn't mention many of them by name, so it's hard to gauge whether or not that promise was fulfilled. It did mention PlanetSide 2 among them, though, and considering it will be launching just after E3 this year, it didn't make that 12-month window.
Sony also showed off a Ratchet & Clank movie trailer, promising both the movie and the game would be out in early 2015. Clearly that hasn't happened, and both the movie and the 2002 game remake are due in early 2016 instead.
Finally, Sony ended its show with an appropriate show-stopper: the first trailer for Uncharted 4: A Thief's End. It was the crown jewel of the PlayStation show, a moody and visually impressive spectacle in a critically and commercially successful series. But, that pesky "2015" emblazoned at the very end of it makes this one fall into the broken promise category, since now it's slated for next year.
Missing in Action
The vast majority of Sony's show was devoted to games that were just on the horizon, so most of the trailers were for games that have now been released. Still, a few have since gone almost entirely quiet. We haven't heard much from Suda51's Let It Die or Abzu from Giant Squid for almost a year now. We do know that Abzu will be part of 505 Games' line-up this year, though, so that absence, at least, is set to change.