With the Vita’s less than inspiring launch sale figures, and an expectant fan base clamouring for new titles on that machine, Sony could perhaps be forgiven for relaxing a little on the PlayStation 3 announcements. Don’t bet on it.
Sony’s flagship might be reaching that critical tipping point in its life cycle where it’s about to be replaced by a younger, stronger model but there’s life in the old dog yet. The PS2 famously (and very successfully) spent the second half of its life with the likes of EyeToy, Singstar and Buzz for company and the PS3 will hopefully have its share of casual and party hits too, those are what bring in the cash and brand awareness that supports early cycle development on the next console.
Expect Move to have a strong showing with those lighter games, supported by some gentle nods of the glowing orb towards the traditional gaming markets we’re probably most interested in.
These nasty blighters will be back, in some form.
That’s not all that Guerrilla Games has tucked in the thigh pockets of their worn fatigues though. We know from job advertisements and interviews that they’ve got some brand new intellectual property, hinted to be something with werewolves, zombies, steampunk or based on Ghost in the Shell.
Lycans or werewolves sound interesting but tricky to pull off, zombies are surely one of the most tired conventions in modern gaming – not to mention probably covered elsewhere in Sony’s line up - and steampunk is popular but has been well stocked recently too. A game based on Ghost in the Shell, or at least on those cyber punk aesthetics, sounds very possible to me but a straight up licensed product might be a hard sell to a mainstream western audience.
We’re as sure as we can ever be that we’ll see something of Kratos’ recently announced prequel, God of War: Ascension, along with more about Naughty Dog’s extremely enticing The Last of Us and plenty about Sly Cooper’s latest outing. If they don’t show The Last Guardian then we might have a bit of a hissy fit too.
There’s too much speculation about that game being a heartbeat away from death for them not to refute that with some nice juicy gameplay footage. Speaking of games which are being noisily missed, Agent will surely raise its head above the parapets – if it isn’t dead already – before it’s forgotten about entirely.
Dust 514 will probably get a run out as Sony attempts to show that the PS3 and Vita complement each other perfectly. Expect plenty of Cross Play talk and mentions of game saves that work over both platforms. Media Molecule has been quiet since LittleBigPlanet 2’s release and there has been some quiet speculation that we might see something totally new from them, a prospect which should excite us all.
Sony’s Playstation 3 software sizzle from last year.
Speaking of quiet speculation, Gran Turismo 6 is a name that has been kicked about in recent weeks and it’s not beyond the realms of possibility. Although, if Gran Turismo’s name is to be dropped on stage, the smart money might be on a slightly less intricate sim-like game than GT usually supplies – rumours abound that the MotorStorm engine would be ideal for something that could more closely compete with Forza Horizon.
We’ll almost certainly see LittleBigPlanet Karting and PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale as Sony attempts to capitalise on fan fervour and show that it has the loveable figureheads to pick up business from people who are wanting to upgrade from a Wii but are put off by a potentially high price and confusing message of the Wii U. On that point, another PS3 price cut could be very likely, if only to keep the price disparity with the Xbox 360 to a minimum.
Speaking of the HD console rivalry, there are some reports that the Diablo III port has had trouble with Microsoft’s Xbox 360 certification. Sony could pull off a bit of a coup by taking that port under their wing and making it an exclusive.
It might be too early to talk about but the PC launch buzz should still be ringing in the ears of eager gamers when E3 is in full swing so it might just be a great time to get the chequebook out and nail something down they can mention on stage.
Don’t forget that Insomniac is working on Overstrike, too. That’s scheduled for this year and although it will be multi platform through EA, Sony has been such a good partner that it might be a sensible option to show it at their conference.
While we’re on the subject of multi-platform conversions, Gears of War has closed its main, Microsoft exclusive, trilogy and Epic are free to create something new on any or all platforms as their already-announced Fortnite testifies. A Gears spin off has long been rumoured, indeed, something called Gears of War: Exile was recently cancelled so the possibility has certainly been explored. Although it’s a massive long-shot, and I’m being very speculative here, if Sony could get that developer on their stage, it would be huge.
Elfen-featured android, Kara, was lovely but let's hear about a game.
I’ll go out on a limb and suggest that new hardware will probably be talked about at this year’s E3, even if Kaz Hirai has publicly denied it. Sony probably won’t throw it up on their huge screen at the press conference but behind closed doors, at least, they’ll show something off to a select few. Recent trends among rumour mongers have advised against hoping for new hardware but a release in the final quarter of 2013 is seeming more and more likely so it makes sense to at least tell people their targets.
Sony has also spoken about not wanting to get left behind by Microsoft again so even though Microsoft has proclaimed that there will be no new Xbox hardware from them at this year’s show, don’t assume Sony won’t be readying some sort of tech demo – as they did with Move in reaction to Kinect’s premiere – just in case.
We should probably also expect partner announcements for media streaming. Microsoft has come slightly late to this area, Netflix excluded, but they’ve hit it hard and Sony would be foolish to let that hugely popular side of the modern home console landscape slip away from them. We’re also piecing together evidence that points to some sort of deal that might bring streaming gaming to the console, probably via PlayStation Plus and likely with Gaikai rather than OnLive. What about PC emulation of PS1 and PS2 games, streamed to your PS3? Wild speculation, for now, but a nice idea we’ve seen floated.
Their’s will be the most game-focussed conference of the three platform holders, with plenty of first party titles to show off, some unannounced projects ripening at just the right time and the ever-present likelihood of some third parties throwing DLC announcements or extra bonuses into the ring for them. This is only half of it, too. With the Vita predicted to be a large focus, it’s looking like an action packed conference for Sony.