E3 2010, Day Two – Sony Keynote Hits & Misses

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Just like that, we’re all out of E3 conferences. Sony and Nintendo both had impressive showings that really put Microsoft to shame, but it shouldn’t be too difficult to figure out which conference we’ll be putting our focus on. I expected to have quite a few more misses, if only because I was nervous about Move after the terrible showing Kinect had at Microsoft’s show yesterday. Turns out that Sony’s keynote ended up being rock solid throughout, so I can’t make any snarky comments I spent all night writing.

Enough talk, though. Here’s what went down.

3D all up in your kitchen… or living room

The sequels on display weren’t a surprise to anyone — we’ve been hearing about Killzone 3, LittleBigPlanet 2, Infamous 2, and MotorStorm: Apocalypse over the last few days and weeks. The most interesting thing about many of these titles is Sony’s aggressive push towards 3D technology.

The Killzone 3 pre-alpha gameplay shown was impressive in its own right, but the audience on hand were shown the footage in 3D, a feature that will ship with the game (along with Move support). Other games confirmed to be 3D capable by Sony were Gran Turismo 5, MotorStorm: Apocalypse, and the just-announced Sly Cooper Collection. Third-party games said to be coming 3D are NBA 2K11, the new Mortal Kombat, Crysis 2, and others.

Whatever your feelings on 3D technology, Sony is making sure their hardware is worth keeping an eye on.

PSP gets a major marketing boost

The PSP has always had a strong gaming library, but it hasn’t had the same success as the DS to show for it. Quite frankly, marketing has played a huge part in that. Barring blockbuster game releases, when was the last time you’ve seen a PSP commercial?

Well, Sony are finally doing something about that with their new “Step Your Game Up” campaign featuring a young kid named Marcus. The first ad will feature Marcus being hired onto the PlayStation brand by Kevin Butler via his own “Dear PlayStation” clip, with subsequent ads featuring him answering questions about PSP games a la KB. This gives the PSP a face much like Butler has done for the PS3 and injects some much-needed personality into a handheld that deserves more positive attention than it gets.

PlayStation Plus is a huge minus

The announcement of PlayStation Plus wasn’t a surprise at all, and initially it seemed to be exactly as expected. For $18 for three months or $50 per year, subscribers get early or exclusive access to game demos and betas, as well as free themes, avatars, and downloadable games. Most importantly, online multiplayer will remain free for everyone. Great, right?

Eh, not quite. For whatever reason, and only Sony knows why, it was decided that the games they let you download are only playable for as long as you subscribe to the service. The moment you stop paying, the games you essentially paid for are no longer yours to play. You’re leasing game, basically.

Again, no one knows why Sony thinks this is a good idea, but I know more than a few people were turned off as soon as Jack Tretton said the words “for the duration of your subscription”.

Exclusive content up the wazoo for multiplats

Several major upcoming multiplatform games are receiving exclusive content when they release on Sony’s machine, and it comes in several different forms. Most importantly, it’s all worth getting excited about.

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EA showed a couple of PS3-exclusive collector’s editions in the form of Medal of Honor and Dead Space 2. Medal of Honor will come with a remastered version of Medal of Honor: Frontline, while Dead Space 2 will come with the former Wii-exclusive Dead Space: Extraction. Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood will have a PS3-exclusive multiplayer beta. Mafia II will launch with day-one DLC.

But the most important content of all came in the form of …

Gabe Newell eating his words for Portal 2

The head of Valve has made zero secret of his feelings for the PS3 over the past couple of years, so to see him on Sony’s stage to reveal that Portal 2 was coming to the system was a pretty big shocker. Sweetest of all Newell revealed that the PS3 would see the release of the best console version of the game, a relief to anyone who played The Orange Box on the system.

When the game releases in 2011 it will feature Steamworks functionality that PC users enjoy. This means cross-platform multiplayer, which is great if you want to play the game’s new co-op mode with a buddy using their PC or Mac. Steamworks also includes Steam Cloud, which allows you to save your games on Valve’s servers and pick up where you left off on a different machine.

A big deal, to be sure.

PlayStation Move didn’t suck

This wasn’t the most exciting part of the show, but it was definitely the biggest relief. While the technology still isn’t mind-blowing, the most important thing is that it simply works.

Sony revealed a new game built specifically for the new hardware titled Sorcery, which made excellent use of Move’s one-to-one motion tracking. The game had a Harry Potter look and feel to it, with the use of a Move wand to cast spells and drink potions and the use of buttons to navigate the game world. Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11 made excellent use of the controller to determine the power of your swing — simple flicking of your wrist won’t work. Finally, Sony revealed a new game titled Heroes on the Move, an action-adventure mash-up featuring Ratchet, Jak, and Sly Cooper.

The approach Sony’s taking is definitely a good one. It’s hard to say if there’s a “right” way to do motion gaming, but there’s definitely a “wrong” way.

Sony end the keynote with a bang

To say the very least. During the closing minutes we were given two huge nuggets of news — both a long time coming, if for different reasons.

Of course, I’m talking about Sony (FINALLY) giving Gran Turimso 5 a release date that you can actually circle on your calendars and revealing a new Twisted Metal game for the PS3. While I won’t believe any GT release date until the disc is spinning in my disc drive, it’s nice to see. As for Twisted Metal, David Jaffe has been denying his involvement with the game for a while now. Now that the game has been unveiled, there is plenty of reason to be excited and we can’t wait to see more over the next couple of days.

Were you surprised by how good Sony’s keynote was? Are you still unimpressed? Let us know below, or in our lively forums.

Readers Comments (13)

  1. Kevin Butler’s speech was amazing. Great keynote. It was the most entertaining, but I thought Nintendo offered better games to announce.

  2. A bit wrong on the PSN+ part. The 18 bucks was for three months. And anything you pay for as a PSN+ member, you get to keep. Its the free games that you get every month that you don’t get to play if you stop subscribing.

  3. hacker13sacker June 15, 2010 @ 22:14

    @Nate cool i didnt know that 🙂

  4. @Nate — Thanks for pointing that out, the post has been corrected.

  5. I think sony has integrated move better than Kinect for 360 b/c nearly all games can use either controller for PS3. I think 360 has split the market for games that can use Kinect and those that don’t and I think thats going to confuse the casual audience b.c when they go to buy Kinect games they’ll see hundreds of different games and won’t know which are for kinect and which are not. There may be a different packaging for kinect games but I still think there may be resistance there.

  6. “Gaming is about having a ridiculously HUGE TV in a tiny one room apartment” – Kevin Butler V.P. of epic speeches.

    And I actually belive the biggest surprise wasn’t GT 5 BUT Twisted Metal. The motion games they show did a splendid job of letting us know what kind of gameplay to expect from the Move (As I mentioned on other article, Tiger Woods was especially cool).

    The PSN + thing didn’t do it for me right now. Maybe if they show some more extras, like cloud saving and stuff.

    I think it was by far the best conference (Maybe only rivaled by the nintendo one, which showed plenty of games).

  7. I was surprised by Twisted Metal announcement and Gabe’s introduction of Portal 2 on PS3. GT5 I was expecting and would have been disappointed if it didn’t come. KB was funny as usual and all in all a good show. I’m watching the Nintendo today before I make an opinion on which was the best but Sony definitely out shined MS.

  8. VofEscaflowne June 16, 2010 @ 10:29

    I thought the conference was waaaay too long. By the end of it, I just wanted it to end already and was hoping they’d deliver on a bigger surprise at the end than the Twisted Metal announcement. Never was a big fan of the series and it wasn’t really much of a surprise considering all the rumors we got from it and David Jaffe trying to “lie” to us :p

    Personally I thought Nintendo’s conference was miles ahead. Entertaining to watch, plenty of games to show, exciting new hardware with new 3D tech and FREAKING KID ICARUS. Microsoft was of course dead last :p

  9. @VofEscaflowne:

    Naah, the Nintendo conference was boring too. The games they showed were the star BUT if you think about it, these are the same games we’ve been playing for the last 15 years.

    Zelda?, Kirby?, Metroid?, even Donkey Kong. I mean yeah, they will most likely be outstanding games but they remain pretty much the same.

    Those are the games we ever see from nintendo. Always.

  10. Oh, and I don’t like Reggie. He seems too cocky for his own good.

  11. VofEscaflowne June 16, 2010 @ 11:52


    Hence the “Personally” 😉

    It still is better than having a market be oversaturated with shooters though. I’ve mentioned it before but it’s becoming really hard to know which shooter is which, they all look alike. With Nintendo, they have very distinctive mascots with gameplay people love and a lot of people agree with it after seeing their show this year.

    I still enjoy Sony’s games that they had at the conference but it was all stuff we knew about which made for a very boring and way too long 2 hours.

  12. Patrick Steen June 16, 2010 @ 14:27

    The thing about the you needing to keep your subscription going to keep playing your ‘free’ PSN Plus games is that their value will far exceed your yearly subscription. For a start – WipEout HD is a $30-40 game – the subscription itself is only $50. So it will depend on the frequency and value of the free games – if they’re monthly and of value, it’s actually a big win for subscribers – they get much more than they would if they didn’t subscribe.

  13. VofEscaflowne June 16, 2010 @ 14:43

    As long as they give out games that are actually worth a damn, I can see this being good. But for me, I usually buy the games that are worth a damn :p I don’t want to subscribe to this only to be given a bunch of games I already own and if somehow I did get one I enjoy but my subscription runs out, having to purchase the rights to it would suck.

    It seems it would be frustrating to buy a 15$ game only to have it be free next month. I’d rather pick what I want and get it now, play it whenever, and not have to worry about a subscription that may or may not be beneficial to me.

    Curious to see how it turns out and if Sony ends up doing any kind of adjustments to the service.

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