New Hardware, New Games As Gamescom Closes Off A Generation – What Will Sony Do?

If E3 2012 attempted to bypass the fact that a new generation was in desperate need (Wii U aside, of course) next year’s Los Angeles-based expo will have no such grace: PS4 and Xbox 720 are coming, and soon, and it’s now just a tactical waiting game to see who moves first. Sony, with what many are hoping will either be a beast of a console or some super light streaming box the size of a matchstick; or Microsoft, with a media centre to rule the living room, powered by a revised Kinect so accurate it can pick up your fingerprints from twenty feet away.

Gamescom, in any case, is likely to kickstart the end of this generation, the last big Western games event to play host to the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 – the stalwarts of this generation – the old faithful, the dependable but aged machines that are now straining at the seams to keep up with what developers are trying to get out of them. Tokyo Games Show will follow soon after, and the year will round off with Eurogamer’s UK-based show, but the wheels are in motion as from next week.

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It’s a big one for Sony – that’s been the case of late with hardware revisions taking centre stage – and we don’t imagine this to be any different this time around. We broke the news of the new CECH 4000 PS3 back at the beginning of July and despite rumours suggesting that Sony won’t be showcasing the top loading, presumably cheaper model it makes a huge amount of sense for SCEE to at least acknowledge the various sightings, leaks and mock-ups – the so-called ‘super slim’ (a misnomer, it’s no slimmer) might not be released next week, but it’s due shortly, and Sony need only distinguish the 4000 in some way to ensure a reasonable boost in shareholder-pleasing figures.

And how they need that right now.

[drop2]But for those of us already invested in PlayStation 3 with no desire for a ridged, somewhat retro looking remix, it’s all about the games. Over the years Sony have increasingly dominated in this area, their first party output often unrivalled in breadth and quality, and whilst it’s certainly true that the PS3’s twilight years are upon us, there’s little slowdown in AAA, top tier games from their most celebrated studios.

God Of War, Beyond, The Last Of Us – they’ll all be playable (and possibly demoed at the conference) and they’re likely to be joined by Battle Royale and LittleBigPlanet Karting.

That’s a strong line-up, leading well into next year, but it’s far from the whole story. Alongside the checkboxes of the above fan favourites and sure-fire hits are a series of upcoming indie titles like The Unfinished Swan (almost certainly likely to be demoed at the conference, alongside press playtests afterwards) and we’re hoping that Sony will use Gamescom to remind their European audience about the sublime Sound Shapes, which co-incidentally will be out alongside Papo & Yo simultaneously with the conference via the PlayStation Store.

Expect some PlayStation Plus promotion, too – the recent Instant Game Collection has been a great success, even if there are complaints from some gamers who feel there’s too much emphasis on older retail games. We teased some stuff on this recently, but expect some big reveals from Gamescom that should satisfy most.

Sony will – if they’ve listened to feedback from E3 – push the Vita. I’m not expecting a price cut, but bundle deals are a must – get WipEout in the box, or FIFA, or Uncharted, forget trying to scare off customers with a lack of a memory card and hopefully sales of the beleaguered portable will pick up. But Vita’s Gamescom presence needs to be about games. Call of Duty will be there, for sure, but we want to see new, unannounced titles from the likes of Sony Cambridge – a handheld Killzone would be killer – and Evolution have been all too quiet since MotorStorm: RC – a sequel, or a fully fledged handheld racer, even if it’s just a tease, would be nice.

[drop]But the Vita’s killer app isn’t a game as such, it’s PS Mobile. It’s impossible to overstate how important it is that Sony get this right. The development kit’s a decimal point away from version one, and the recent addition of in-app purchases, no matter how much I revolt at the thought of the way they’ve taken over the iPhone’s app store, shows that the service is meant to be taken seriously.

PS Mobile could be huge if the platform’s presented well, it’s integrated quickly into the store and developers are behind it enough to get punters interested. I’ve heard good things over the last couple of weeks – but I should probably leave it there.

The Vita’s got a lot to prove to early adopters – just ask Peter – but it’s Sony’s to mess up. Everything’s in place, Sony just need to lower the cost of mainline games (nobody’s paying £40, guys) and ensure that the options open to them are explored with intelligence and respect for their consumers. Get the games flowing, get PS Mobile up and running, get Remote Play working with those PS3 games and make the kit indispensable.

And then, it’s all eyes on PS3. There are new games still to come, and whilst it’s likely Wonderbook wll show its head again, there’s the recent rumours about something called Rain to watch out for – likely to be a Sucker Punch game and potentially Move-based; there’s also something mysterious from Sony’s Japan Studios coming, and again as far as we know Gamescom is the target for that one. And then there’s the clever way that Vita can be used as a controller for its big brother – the lovely looking indie title Guacamelee! will apparently offer this, but LittleBigPlanet 2 is also a supporting title – hopefully we’ll hear more on that this week too.

There’s a lot to get excited about for Sony this week – the games are still very much the key for the PS3 despite the looming shadow of a successor – but it’s the overwhelming amount of possibilities that excites the most. With the sheer amount of exclusives and a handheld potentially capable of incredible things (and a huge loyal fanbase) Sony should be absolutely dominant. They’re not, the industry has changed since the PlayStation days, but the promise is still there: the tinge of excitement at every press conference, the surprise at every new announcement.

Microsoft are still hugely powerful, and Nintendo have new hardware out in a few months, but this week should be Sony’s week.

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22 Comments

  1. Anyone who moves on new hardware before Christmas is a financial dunce.

    Can imagine Sony going big on Vita, sure they’ll make it look great, which will please existing owners but probably do nothing to further its reach outside of the already converted.
    The drawn out birth of PS Suite/PS Mobile & the fact it’s not going to be a platform alternative to Apple’s appetite means focus on cheap but addictive games at impulse price points is going to continue to be marginal, whilst AAA titles better suited to sofa gaming (where your PS3 is & PS4 will be) take priority. It was at this point that 3DS did a massive pricecut, anything other than that from Sony will be a disaster as we head into the Christmas buying period.

    Would like to see some movement on the Gaikai front to give us an insight into Sony’s plans for the platform, just hope they don’t balls it up like they do many tech, services & platforms.

    On the games front we’ll have a couple of great looking delights to see out PS3’s final year as primary console in style.

    There is no doubt Sony will have a good Gamescom though

  2. Its a shame, but I think many of the games that get released just before the release of a new console are often forgotten almost instantly. I hope thats not the case with ‘The Last of Us’ and a few others, but I think it’s a shame these games don’t really get rememered because obviously a new console is out and the graphics are spectacular and the old game generally aren’t fully compatible. I’d like to see an integration system with the new PS that means PS3 won’t just disappear and become a backstory. Too many great games for that to happen.

    • God of War 2, Kingdom Hearts 2, Okami, Bully, Black and Final Fantasy XII show that if a game is good enough, it will be remembered.

      • I totally forgot about FFXII after it came out. Remembered it years later and borrowed it from a friend. Couldn’t even finish it. :/

      • Fantastic Four?

    • Most of the games you mentioned were forgotten pretty quickly. I’m not disputing the quality, this is my point, these games should be remembered. PS3 have done a fantastic job in re-releasing these games in the form of HD collections. God of War and Okami have/will be gettin the HD treatment.

      Wouldn’t it be nice to have a system already in place though, so nobody has to wait years (as the case with Okami and MGS) to play these on their main console.

  3. I’m already starting to save up for the next gen. It’s coming next year, whatever is mentioned at these cons, we all know its coming.

  4. “dependable but aged machines that are now straining at the seams to keep up with what developers are trying to get out of them”

    LastOfUs say hi.

    This may be the case with the XBox, (which has been struggling for 2+ years now, and basically holding the PS3 back for 5+ years in terms of multiplatforms), but it’s not the case for the PS3. It’s been getting better and better year on year, with no signs of slowing.

    And you have to wonder how “expert” Alex C is, as clearly no company would be stupid enough to announce a product you can’t buy the following morning. Sales will evaporate overnight. If the costed down PS3 isn’t ready to buy for Gamescon, it won’t be talked about.

    • “as clearly no company would be stupid enough to announce a product you can’t buy the following morning”

      Kinda works for Apple.

      As for the rest of your comment: :p.

  5. I can see MS ditching the 360 and releasing the Durangobox720 either next year or the year afterwards as the current amount of support for it is piss poor at the moment in my opinion. There seems to be barely any new exclusives except from Halo and GOW. In fact, they seem to be moving away from gaming and into the multi media market. Which is not a bad thing but they do need to up their game. Where as Sony are doing their best to get more exclusives and i believe the PS3 has 3-4 years left. That said, their support for the Vita has varied from nonexistant to piss poor to bad. They have a long way to go before it starts to do as well as the PSP imo. As for Ninty, they are in the proccess of moving between consoles and all support for the Wii seems to have been dropped in favour of supporting the 3DS untill the Wii-U comes out. But if Apple were to release a console, i think MS and Ninty would be very screwed due to their current ways and Sony would probably do well against them but still get trampled by them due to their cheap prices.

    When the next gen consoles are released, i’m going to wait a year or two just to see how much Sony,MS and Ninty are supporting them. As well as a price cut.

    • I agree about ps having 3/4 years left, developers are only now realising what a beast the system is & I think they now figured out how to codec it & use it’s power to potential.

      As much as I love ps3 exclusives they need to slow down cause we being shoved too many exclusives in one year, they need make some of their dev to make vita games since they struggling to get support from 3rd parties, they have enough teams to make vita games

  6. I Don’t think ps4 will release next year maybe announced next year then a 2014 release date. I just don’t see it being released next year there is too many games to outshine any new console that will release next year (not counting wii U) games like GTA, bio shock, the last of us etc I just can’t see the next gen next year.

    My money is on 2014…

    • Well most of does game are releasing in Q1. I think and hope they announce it at E3 and then release it later in the year.

    • 2014..

      Hope so, heh.

  7. I am happy with the PS3 Exclusives coming(& all the other games) so all i would like SONY to do is do a PS3 price drop + i wouldn’t mind seeing that new redesigned PS3 come out :P (if only it had…oh no…i really said i would never say this again…full PS2 playback then i would buy it day one + i think that alone would boost PS3 sales to) ;)

  8. Am I the only person who still feels like the PS3 came out just yesterday? And who wouldn’t care if the PS4 doesn’t come out for years yet?

    Between my PS3 and Vita, I can’t see what a PS4 could do that woiuld make me even consider buying it. What new features could it have that couldn’t be implemented on the PS3 with firmware updates?

    • Depends when you bought it :p

      • Pre-ordered for launch day.

        But lol all the same!

  9. I’ve had my PS3 since a few weeks after launch and im really not ready for the next gen i think the PS3 giving the right push the right games has another 2+ strong years

  10. I can’t see the next gen happening yet. Financial forecast’s would suggest that we won’t be coming out of recession for a little while yet and although Sony and MS can’t wait forever, I think they will prelong any new releases for a while anyway. You’ll always have big sales when you release new software but to maximize sales I can see them waiting.

    It’s fine by me, i’m loving the Sony generosity stunt – and that can only make MS sit up and take note. I have both consoles, so i’m going to enjoy the next few years enjoying all the great bargains and bonus content that will come out of the competition between Sony and Microsoft. You have to remember that the company thats ahead going into the next ge will probably do the best out of a new release. People are very releuctant to switch allegiances when so much money is on the line. In this climate we can’t just whip out £300 and flush it down the pan.

    Either way, it’s going to be good for us gamers.

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