The second big E3 press conference was hosted by the PlayStation makers. Again, here’s all the info in easy to digest bullet-point form.
- President of Sony Computer Entertainment of America Jack Tretton started by addressing the elephant in the room. He apologized to everyone for the recent PlayStation Network outage.
- Sony announced that the PS3 is the leading Netflix streamer amongst consumers, account for almost 30 percent of Netflix’s streams. Coming this fall to PS3 owners is Best Buy’s CinemaNow video service, providing consumers with access to more than 12,000 TV episodes and movies for rental or purchase.
- Upcoming PS3 exclusives include: Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception (a demo was played and a 3D trailer was shown, due out November 1, 2011); Resistance 3 (Sony will ship a Resistance 3 Sharpshooter bundle dubbed the “Doomsday Edition” and it’ll come with the game, the gun accessory, the PlayStation Eye, and Move controllers, $150, due out September 6); the God of War Origins Collection will bring the PSP games Chains of Olympus and Ghost of Sparta to the PS3 remastered in HD and 3D; the Ico and Shadow of the Colossus collection is also coming to the PS3 with support for 3D gaming.
- Speaking of 3D gaming, Sony plans to drive adoption for the new in-home format by selling a PlayStation-branded 3DTV. The 24-inch set features a mode where players can view individual, unique, full-screen images of gameplay when playing two-player games; the bundled set of 3D glasses do the trick. Other specs: LCD display, 1080p, 2D/3D support, high contrast (5000:1), wide viewing angle (176 degree) high response time (4ms GTG average), slim design, high quality sound, 2 HDMI ports. For $499.99 you get the 3DTV, Resistance 3, one pair of 3D glasses (PS-branded 3D glasses will sell separately for $69.99), and an HDMI cable. It’s a good idea, but question remains: is the lower barrier of entry low enough to get you to buy into 3D today?
- Upcoming games to utilize Move include: NBA 2K12 (Kobe Bryant popped by for the demo); Medieval Moves: Deadmund’s Quest (made by the devs who brought us the Move launch title Sports Champions); inFamous 2 (out now); deeper Move functionality is coming to LittleBigPlanet 2 this September; Starhawk; Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time (he’s back in 2012); Dust 514 (this PS3 exclusive releases spring 2012 and will extend to the NGP); BioShock Infinite (Irrational Games’ Ken Levine had to be convinced by Sony to incorporate Move support in this new title; though skeptical at first, Levine has found potential in it…he also announced that a new game set in the BioShock universe will release for the NGP some time in the future…and Infinite will come packed with the original BioShock); and Star Trek (will release next year alongside the J.J. Abrams sequel and will ship with a phaser-like accessory).
- New games from EA will provide PS3 exclusive content: SSX (Mt. Fuji map), Need for Speed: The Run (exclusive cars), and Battlefield 3 (Battlefield 1943 comes on the disc).
- Sony honcho Kaz Hirai also addressed the PSN outage and said, “We learned a lot during the recent outage of the PlayStation Network and one of the most important things we learned was the trust and loyalty of our customers.” On that higher note, he talked up the PlayStation Suite and PlayStation-certified Android devices.
- And then the announcement we’ve all been waiting for…the NGP is officially called PlayStation Vita. Where does the name come from? Sony explains: “Derived from the Latin word “Vita,” which means “Life,” this next generation portable entertainment system enables a revolutionary combination of rich gaming and social connectivity within a real world context.” It ships this holiday season and two models will be offered: WiFi only for $249.99 and WiFi+3G for $299.99. Sony has partnered with AT&T for the 3G data (the crowd moaned in laughter when this news was announced). The following games will be coming to PS Vita likely as launch titles: Uncharted: Golden Abyss, LittleBigPlanet, Ruin, Wipeout, and ModNation Racers. Capcom previewed Street Fight X Tekken; the game will feature InFamous‘ Cole MacGrath as a playable character. For a more in-depth look at the PS Vita, click here!
- Some DJ concluded the event with thumping beats.
Like Microsoft’s presser, I was left somewhat unsatisfied after watching Sony’s outing. They failed to excite me with a new franchise or by reinvigorating an old classic (though the return of Sly looks promising). PS Vita is an odd name for the PSP successor, but that won’t matter in the end if the content developed for it is good. And by the looks of it many developers are jumping on board to produce all kinds of fun, interactive experiences with the handheld’s OLED touch display, tilt functions, camera, and back touch pad. Here’s to hoping that Nintendo brings the goods tomorrow when they announce their new home console and new 3DS titles.
Last we heard out of the video game giants Sony had shipped 1 million Move controllers in one month, and Microsoft had sold 1 million Kinect sensors in ten days. Post-Black Friday, the companies were eager to share the latest sales figures for these products. As of November 2010 Sony has shipped over 4.1 million units worldwide, and Microsoft has sold over 2.5 million Kinect sensors globally in 25 days. Now bear in mind that there’s a notable difference between units shipped and units sold. Unlike Microsoft, Sony is not reporting actual sales results; instead they are reporting the number of units shipped to retailers. A Sony rep says that the company won’t “disclose [their] exact sell-through number”, and that kind of chips away at their impressive and somewhat misleading stat. Nevertheless, there’s no denying that the new motion peripherals are happily riding the Wii’s coattails this holiday season.
In collaboration with ad agency Saatchi & Saatchi, Sony has developed a peculiar new advertising campaign for the Latin American market. In the two commercials Sony is hoping build awareness of the PlayStation, along with the recently released PlayStation Move motion accessory. All I see are freakishly giant MAN-BABIES. But here’s how Sony explains it:
“The first commercial…features a baby as a depiction of the emotions that are often associated with the purest form of entertainment. It reminds us of a time when even the smallest actions, sights and sounds can provoke unhinged and constant entertainment.”
Riiight. Look after the break to watch another commercial starring MAN-BABIES! Oh Sony, you never fail to awkwardly impress.
The suits at Sony have something to smile about. Today the company reported having shipped 1 million PlayStation Move controllers in North and Latin America in the first 30 days of availability. SCEA CEO Jack Tretton is enthused to say the least. “Retail demand is incredibly strong and we’re working hard to keep the product in stock”, he said. “We believe consumers have already shown their preference for a precise, interactive game experience. We are on target to meet our end of year goals and expect sales to increase as our publishers and developers continue to update popular titles and introduce new games.” This is certainly great news for Sony, but Joystiq makes a solid point when they say this announcement does not help you figure the precise install base of the new motion controller. Many PS3 owners likely purchased more than one Move for two-hand and multiplayer functionality. Still, this does not take away the fact that Sony has something powerful in their (er, our) hands. Right now there’s 24 Move-supported titles out, with 17 more promised before the year runs out. I gotta get my Move on. Full PR after the break.
Wolfbreeder, an LA ad agency, put together this impressive viral featuring a man wielding a PlayStation Move controller versus an oversized Mii (a personalized avatar from Nintendo’s Wii). Guess who wins this battle of epic proportions.
To celebrate and promote the launch of PlayStation Move, Norwegian marketing agency Suddenly Oslo have dreamed up the Move Men. Their mission? To stalk you on Facebook, crash your party, and entice you to play a video game using the new PlayStation 3 motion peripherals. Giz makes a good point; don’t these spherical fellas remind you of the creepy “Wii would like to play” dudes from the old Nintendo Wii commercials?
On Tuesday Sony revealed two new PlayStation 3 SKUs. The first is a plain jane PS3 with a 160GB hard drive. It replaces the older SKU and keeps the same price of $299.99. Buy it today. The second model is a PS3 + PlayStation Move bundle. Price at $399.99, it packs a 320GB hard drive and comes packed with one PS Move controller, one PlayStation Eye camera, a copy of Sports Champions, and a game demo disc. The bundle will hit store shevles September 19, the same date PS Move launches.
Game: The Fight: Lights Out
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Release date: November 2010
Another PlayStation Move launch title is The Fight: Lights Out, or Wii Sports Boxing on steroids. Using two Move controllers you are in control of a street fighter. Though motions are not 1:1 (your on-screen character does not imitate every action you make), the game does a good job at picking up specific boxing moves like punches, uppercuts, and body and elbow shots. The more fluid and deliberate you make your punches the better PS Eye transfers your motions on-screen. By holding down the main Move button on the controller you can control the direction in which your character moves. Predefined “dirty moves” can be called up by pressing the trigger button. Check out that double-hammer fist special move! The game is also physics-based; in the demo this means that you can use one Move controller to push your opponents arm out of the way to make room for a clean punch with the other controller. If you defeat your opponent you get the opportunity to “finish him” with a special move. In the demo I played this involved my character lightly tapping the opponent to make him fall over and pass out on the floor. I’ve also heard that another finishing move will involve blowing your opponent over by physically blowing into the PS Eye’s built-in mic. After the fight is over a results page lets you know how many calories you burned during the length of the fight.
Overall I really enjoyed playing The Fight. When I first picked up the controllers I wanted to beat up my opponent to a bloody pulp with frantic punch gestures and flicks of the wrist. Quickly I learned that fast movements resulted in poor feedback on the PS Eye’s end. Once I settled in and started to strategically produce counter-punches the experience became a whole lot more realistic and fun. I also like the black-and-white style with splashes of red when blood is drawn. With the promise of a character customization studio, a single player campaign, an online multiplayer mode, and the ability to bet on games and use your winnings to purchase in-game items, The Fight is panning out to be a solid launch title for the Move.
Game: TV Superstars
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Release date: November 2010
TV Superstars is a party game that places a customized avatar into a number of mini-games based on reality shows. Before you jump into a game show, you are required to customize an avatar using the PS Eye. You step up to the camera and take three pictures of yourself with neutral, smile, and angry faces. After your face is placed on the head of the virtual avatar, you can play around with the size/shape of the head, hair color/style, and skin tone. Then you are asked to record a personal message to go along with your avatar by speaking into the mic (which is built into the PS Eye). Once your character is complete you can jump into one of three game shows, Let’s Get Physical, Frokstar, and Big Beat. Due to time constraints I only played the first game.
Let’s Get Physical resembles a Japanese physical challenge show and places your avatar into the challenges. In the “Wheel of Heroes” mini-game you hold the PS Move controller in one hand a shake it back and forth in a running motion to make the avatar run and jump over obstacles. In “Airheads” you pull back the Move controller to spring yourself out of a slingshot and you have to position the controller to match the silhouette figure on screen. If you match it up correctly your avatar will fly through the window and you’ll move on to more challenging orientations.
Though the customization aspect of this game is intriguing and quite comedic, the controls were a bit irritating. In “Airheads” I had trouble matching the controller position to the silhouette figures. I had to keep reminding myself that PS Move (in combination with the PS Eye) does not track your entire body like Microsoft’s Kinect. The PS Eye camera only detects the glowing orb atop the Move controller. So as hard as you try to position your body to match the silhouette configurations on screen you won’t get anywhere unless the Move controller is maneuvered the right way. Simply put, this game would be a lot more fun if it was made for Kinect, not for PS3.
Game: SOCOM 4
Publisher: Zipper Interactive
Release date: November 2010
The SOCOM franchise is one I hold very close to my heart. After going through an obsessive phase with SOCOM II on PS2, I have been looking for that same fantastic experience to make its way to the PS3. After getting some hands-on time with SOCOM 4 (which is developed by SOCOM II publisher Zipper Interactive), I am excited to share with you that this next iteration in the SOCOM franchise is going to be a winner.
With TV Superstars and The Fight: Lights Out Sony is branching out to the casual set of gamers who just want to grab their Move controllers and jump into a quick and easy to maneuver game. SOCOM 4 exists to prove that even hardcore gamers can get in on the Move action without sacrificing traditional strategic gameplay that SOCOM is known for. With the Move controller in one hand and the Navigation (sub) controller in the other, you control a character called Ops Com who leads a squad into a war-torn Southeast Asian environment. Wait, this doesn’t sound like SOCOM, you’re thinking. Well, it is! In addition to a robust online multiplayer mode that supports up to 32 players, SOCOM 4 packs a true single player story-driven campaign that places you in command of a squad. The demo dropped me into a battle with lots of gunfire. With a tap on the D-pad I can rally the squad around me and direct them where to go. Overall the Move controls add a level of precision that goes way beyond what the DualShock 2 controller allowed for in SOCOM II. The subcontroller’s analog stick moves your character around, and the Move controller is used to line up the reticle, set up a shot, and take it. Although SOCOM 4 will be playable with a standard DualShock 3 controller you’d be crazy not to want to at least try the Move controls. It’s really not a gimmick in this game; after sitting down with it for a nice chunk of time I’m confident in saying that Move support is going to help SOCOM develop into a better and truly immersive game. Calling in an airstrike has never been this much fun.
I’ve been talking so much about the single player and motion control goodness that I haven’t even touched upon the stunning graphics yet! SOCOM 4 looks amazing. The environments are highly detailed and quite destructible. If you shoot at a car window glass will shatter into tiny pieces and the shards will gracefully fall to the ground. All new intense single player; 32-player online gameplay we know and love; precise Move support; and gorgeous graphics–SOCOM 4 will become my next gaming obsession.
Note: Sorry about the degraded sound quality in the video above. Our mic was having some trouble during this interview.
The Sony press conference took place at the Shrine Auditorium. And I was there! So please continue on, will you?
3D gaming is all the rage in Sony’s world, and so all distinguished guests of their press conference received 3D glasses. After humorously jabbing Microsoft and their poncho-required Cirque event from the other day, President & CEO of PlayStation Jack Tretton invited Kazuo Hirai to start things off with a gorgeous demo of Killzone 3 in 3D. Though 3D gaming might sound like a gimmick to many of you, listen here: 3D adds a great sense of depth to the game and likely become an integral part of video games. Parts of the gameplay featured the use of jetpacks; during these scenes I felt like I was at a Universal Studios theme park ride, fully immersed in an exciting, different world. In another scene we were taken to the skies via a helicopter and watched a gunman fire at enemies down below. At one point I asked myself if I was witnessing a video game demo or a scene from Avatar. Yeah, it was that good. The 2-part demonstration elicited many oos and ahhs from the crowd. I might have been the loudest. In short, 3D added a tremendous amount of excitement to Killzone; after a few seconds of adjusting to the depth perception any distractions that might have existed disappeared. Killzone 3 from Guerrilla Games drops February 2011 and will be compatible with Sony’s motion controller called Move. 20 games will be made available in 3D for the PS3 by the end of this year. Sony promises 20 additional titles will be created natively in 3D by March 2011, some of which include Crysis 2, Mortal Kombat, Shaun White Skatebording, Ghost Recon Future Soldier, EyePet, Tron: Evolution, MLB 2K11, NBA 2K11, Motorstorm Apocalypse, Gran Turismo 5, and a Sly Cooper collection. A short montage of 3D video and gameplay rounded out the first section of the conference; let’s just say fatalities look fantastic and baseball players throwing balls at you is a bit scary in three dimensions.
Sony’s advertisement go-to guy Kevin Butler is back, this time from the future where PlayStation Move is a huge success. The commercial is filled with mockery against Nintendo’s Wii motion (in)capabilities: “You’ve got the controller and a camera with microphone working together to give you total control over your gaming experience. Not just like this [he moves his hand side-to-side in 2D space] but this way too [he makes a forward-moving jab in 3D space]. Because real boxers to hit like this [he humorously flails his arms in front of his chest].” He also makes sure to troll Microsoft’s upcoming, controller-less Project Natal: “PlayStation Move is not only crazy precise, its also got what we in the future call buttons, which turn out to be pretty important to those handful of millions of people who enjoy playing shooters and platformers, or, well, anything that doesn’t involve catching a big red ball.” Oh, it’s on.
Yesterday at the Game Developer’s Conference Sony finally made official the PlayStation Motion Controller as PlayStation Move. Dubbed the “next generation of motion gaming,” PS Move will take on Nintendo’s Wii-mote directly with a wireless Move controller and sub-controller (don’t call it a nunchuck). Paired with the PlayStation Eye (Sony’s webcam device for the PS3) the PS Move will become an “extension of your body” with near 1:1 motion precision and accuracy. Sony says the Move’s latency is about the same to that of its DualShock 3 controller (about a 1fps delay). The Move contains “advanced motion sensors, including a three-axis gyroscope, a three-axis accelerometer, and a terrestrial magnetic field sensor, as well as a color-changing sphere that is tracked by PlayStation Eye camera.”
So what differentiates the Move controller from the Wii-mote? The answer lies in the Z-plane. The PS Eye tracks the colored sphere at the front of the controller and can sense when you are moving closer to or farther away from the on-screen action. The Eye+Motion setup will be able to detect motion in 3D space (the Z-plane) far more effectively than the Wii-mote+Wii sensor bar configuration (especially if you don’t have the WiiMotionPlus add-on). Other differences from the Wii-mote: the controller and sub-controller wirelessly pair to the PS3 via Bluetooth, they are USB-powered (no batteries), and the sub-controller does not have a motion sensor (the Wii nunchuck does). Also, since the PS Eye can capture images and voice, augmented reality experiences can incorporated into games.
Sony’s plan is to market the PS Move not just to casual games but also to the rabid hardcore, FPS-lovin’ group of gamers. They’ve come out and said that 36 third party developers and publishers are on board to make games supporting the new motion controller, promising that over 20 games “that are either dedicated to or supported with the PlayStation Move platform” will release this year. At the GDC press conference Sony announced the following Motion-supported games, many with tentative titles: Move Party (collection of mini-games with augmented reality features); Sports Champions (think Wii Sports on the PS3; demos included table tennis, sword fighting, and archery); SOCOM 4; TV Superstars; Slider; The Shoot; Motion Fighter; Eye-Pet; and Brunswick Pro Bowling. Click here to see Joystiq’s hands on coverage of the games.
PlayStation Move will be made available for purchase in three ways come Holiday 2010: a starter kit includes the PS Move controller, PS Eye, and a game and will sell for under $100; you can buy the Move controller standalone; or you can get a PS3 console bundled with the Move controller. An exact launch date and definitive pricing details will surface as we get closer to the holiday season.
A motion controller for the PS3 is coming soon. Question is, how will it fare in competition with the Nintendo Wii and the forthcoming Microsoft Project Natal? Wii-like motion controls being implemented into both casual and hardcore games in high definition sounds tempting, but it all comes down to execution. If Sony lives up to its promise and makes sure to release a decent variety of motion-supported games inside the launch window the new controller will likely be embraced by many PS3 users. PlayStation Move will find a niche in the gaming community, especially with a sub-$100 price tag. Motion-detection offers a new way to experience video games; in particular it invites users to become more immersed in the games they play (like what 3D did with Avatar). With Wii living in the stone ages (graphics/lack of hardcore third party games support) and hype for Project Natal growing louder every day, the ball is in Sony’s court and it’s up to them to get this right.
Look after the break for the Sony press release and the Move introduction video. The gallery below contains the first official press shots of the controller and sub-controller.