What Should Sony Do At E3 2014?

Sony is on a bit of a high at the moment. Their PlayStation 4 launch has been a runaway train of hardware sales success and, with over seven million units sold to eager gamers around the world, it’s showing very few signs of slowing down at all as we head into the countdown to E3 2014.

They had made some missteps through the lifetime of the PlayStation 3 which has led to a seemingly common misconception that they somehow “lost” the previous generation, but, as it happens, world-wide sales compared to the Xbox 360 seem to be as close to equal these dats.

Anything that matters for factoring in potential duplicate sales after hardware revisions and well-publicised failures (red ring or yellow light of death) is next to impossible to determine on anything other than a purely anecdotal level. So the only thing we can say with any degree of confidence that they “lost” was the war for public perception in the west. But that’s significant enough and it’s why they focussed on the west with the launch of the PS4.

That strategy has paid off for Sony, not only with the sales figures but also a slightly more open approach to their strategy and the much-lauded courting of smaller developers leading to plenty of goodwill among the press and consumers they’ll be talking to at E3.

It is now crucially important that they keep up that momentum. Here’s how I think they could do that at E3 2014.


Hold the price of the PS4

When they set the PlayStation 4 price at E3 2013, they got it right. Microsoft has struggled to claw back to equal footing with a reduction in the UK and an exclusive game bundle, but nobody has really started talking about the PS4 needing a price cut just yet. So, while price cuts are always popular, it’s not needed yet and they can probably afford to continue selling units at the current price until sales slow down, probably next year.

Cut the price of the Vita

It’s getting on a bit now and the Vita has a huge catalogue of games on the PSN to delight and entertain. There’s plenty more on the way too, with Sony’s Vita indie guru Shahid Ahmad recently talking about more than 60 in the pipeline and even more on the horizon. So it makes some sense to sell the hardware as cheaply as possible, get it into as many hands as you can and increase the customer base to whom you can sell those games.

Bundle things together

While the PS4 doesn’t need a price cut to make it attractive just yet, Sony could start to focus on adding value to the package. Bundles do that and with PlayStation Now on the horizon, adding a period of subscription to that service, PlayStation Plus and some download codes for the best known indies on the PSN would make for a relatively inexpensive bundle for Sony to put together, with plenty to make it attractive to new customers and those keen to upgrade from a PS3. Expect some Q4 flagship bundles too, with Ubisoft an obvious third party to team up with here.

Games aren’t the only thing worth bundling though – Sony should probably throw a Vita in the box at some point soon. Before the holiday sales season might be a perfect opportunity to play up the relationship between their flagship home console and its handheld sibling. Remote Play is always a talking point, but highlighting cross-play, cross-save and cross-buy titles would also make a lot of sense when talking about this potential package, too.

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Thank the Vita’s Core

It might be time to cut the price of the Vita, but it’s also time to make good on some of those “console in your pocket” claims that were floating around the handheld’s launch. Plenty of people (including myself) love the Vita’s recent catalogue of smaller games and indies but there are just as many that want a new Uncharted, Killzone, LittleBigPlanet or other high-profile, big budget game to come to their Vitas.

Sony is in danger of letting the Vita just become the handheld for ported PC indie games and smaller experiences. That might not be a huge deal for the Vita but it will mean less trust from those who want AAA handheld games when (or if) Sony comes along with their next handheld console.

PlayStation Now might help invigorate the Vita, but there are plenty of options for first party games that might be a perfect fit for a return. Uncharted and Killzone are the obvious more grown up choices to see fresh handheld entries, but perhaps bringing back Parappa the Rapper and Crash Bandicoot would help sell the Vita to a slightly younger audience too.

Don’t talk too much about indies

Yes, I love smaller developers too, but it might be best to not give them too much time on stage this year. 15 minutes should be plenty to showcase that the company is still doing all it can to bring the best of the independent development scene to PlayStation and any more than that will have the AAA junkies pulling their hair out at the live stream.

The love that PlayStation has for indies is well known now, so it might be time to show that they still love the people who only buy three or four big budget blockbusters each year.

Get the games out

They should have strong showings for Uncharted and The Order: 1886, and both should be playable at the show if Sony isn’t going to have a sparse booth this year. It might be about time we saw something of the next God of War game too, and Sony Santa Monica might have one or two other smaller projects up their sleeves that could be teased or trailered.

Guerilla Games have long been rumoured to be working on something other than Killzone, so it’s about time that was shown. And following the success and subsequent PS4 refresh of The Last of Us, it might make sense to tease some kind of sequel or follow-up from Naughty Dog.

The best thing about E3 is the often the surprises it brings and with the PlayStation 4 lineup over the next year or so, I think there’s huge potential for Sony to drop some real shockers on us. Who would like to see a PS4 WipEout or MotorStorm? What about that bizarre project Media Molecule showed off at the PS4 reveal last year with the puppet band and the model sculpting? Actually, that might suit our next category a little better…

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Bring Project Morpheus and its games

Who wouldn’t want to live in a ludicrously cheerful world created by the gleeful lunatics behind LittleBigPlanet? Get me inside the world with those Media Molecule tech demos and I’ll probably have Morpheus effect practically superglued to my face as soon as it’s available.

It also seems to be a system perfectly suited to survival horror and Sony have already showed a tech demo for something called The Deep that appears to be pretty tense. Perhaps we’ll see more of that and maybe we’ll even hear something about a Morpheus version of Creative Assembly’s upcoming Alien Isolation. Limited edition version to sell with a clean pair of undies, perhaps.

It also makes sense to get some kind of Morpheus support in place for anything in a first person viewpoint that Sony already has on the way. They should get Killzone: Shadow Fall and DriveClub playable, at least, to make the prospect of forking over more hard earned cash on a no doubt expensive PlayStation peripheral a little easier to bare, over the traditionally game-light launch period of these things.

What about Home, too. Sure, it wasn’t for everyone but it was incredibly popular among a certain type of PlayStation owner and the microtransaction-based economy might be enough to tempt Sony into a much more immersive version of the virtual world for their VR tech.

One more genre that seems poised to be hugely popular as consumer virtual reality hardware becomes a reality is the space combat and exploration game. I found Dust 514 to be a little dry and uninteresting but if that relationship led to another Eve spin-off – Valkyrie – making an appearance on PlayStation 4 and Morpheus, I’d forgive all.

That said, I still yearn for an X-Wing game and with EA now in charge of Disney’s Star Wars console games, perhaps that’s an option. And then there’s Elite: Dangerous, the direct descendant of the grandfather of the genre. It already looks gorgeous, but with VR support and the comfort of my sofa as I play on a PS4, it would be even more tempting.

Finally, for the Morpheus segment of the show, maybe Housemarque should be called upon? I’m not sure what they might have that would fit the technology but they made one of the first (and best) PSN games when Sony’s online store was its newest technology, they then became the first to implement trophies and one of the first to support Sony’s push for 3D popularity. Maybe a Super Stardust game in the first person, playable with Morpheus?

Don’t spend too long on the filler

They’re surely going to show off some new media partnerships. Things like exclusive DLC for an Assassin’s Creed game and a couple of new apps for streaming media need to get a mention because they’re important for Sony’s business. But they don’t need much more than that. Sony should us know that media playback is coming to a PS4 firmware update, YouTube will be added to the video share options and they’ve had some interesting chats with some people who make television. And then move on.

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39 Comments

  1. As great as the PS4 is selling right now, there aren’t exactly many “long term” titles available for it yet. Yes, Infamous is good but its really short and therefore only worth renting. I love the PS4 console but currently have very little to play on it outside of the free PS+ titles each month. Really hoping that Sony have plenty of big titles lined up so I can start using the console for more than a few hours each month

    • The problem is that there are more early adopters this generation, for both consoles, than previous. There is unfounded expectation that there should be “greater” software support.

      In one way I’m glad. I’ve got an incredible backlog to go through on my PS3, Xbox360 & PC.

      • I think you’re right. When I bought my PS3, I played nothing but Resistance and Motorstorm for the first 6 months and didn’t even notice how lacking the console’s software library was because I still had PS2 games to work through.
        This time however I sold my PS3 (and 3DS(x2), Wii, 360, PSP and my Guitars) to help pay off the new consoles, meaning I have no backlog to work through whatsoever.
        It doesn’t help that most of the larger games on PS4 at the moment are internet-based (COD, BF4, Killzone, FF14). Living out in the sticks means I get a crappy connection.

  2. Great write up as ever Pete.

    Personally, it’s all about the games for me this year. There needs to be something soon(tm) that isn’t a remake of a last gen game, or being released across last gen consoles as well.

    Destiny and the Division are the only games that I’m really paying attention to so far this year. Division will be on PC, and Destiny will be on last gen as well.

    A proper next gen RPG or something along those lines is what I need to finally push me to get the PS4. Though a PS4/Vita bundle would also make me have to think pretty hard…

  3. Sony need to excite me with some games coming out this year. I am dangerously close to selling my PS4 due to the lack of games and information on future games. Will always keep hold of my VITA. Fantastic little console.

    • Completely up to you obviously but I can see things improving over the next 12 months. This part of a new console generation (i.e. when the “ooo shiny” feeling has gone away and the new games aren’t out yet) is the worst, but I doubt Sony will drop the price of the PS4 anytime soon and I’d imagine you will want to buy one again once the proper games start coming out.

      • My intention would be to buy one again later but cant justify having an expensive dust trap in my house at the moment. Im sure in 12 months there will be a few decent games out. Sony have until after I have finished Watch Dogs to impress me. Currently there is nothing with a fixed release date that interests me. Uncharted could change this if it gets a 2014 release(which it wont)

    • I’ve rarely been as disappointed with a purchase in my life as I am with my PS4

      Mine has been relegated to my bedroom & my PS3 back under the main TV

      It’s not that I’m not used to console launch periods, I’ve bought plenty at launch, it’s not that I don’t like Indie games which are being used to good effect by Sony – I play a lot of games from Indie devs… my PC has thousands times more than Sony will probably ever have.

      Watch Dogs was always the PS4’s guiding star for me, and can’t help being disappointed it will run at the same half speed it will run on PS3 – Obviously there’s a few extra pixels, but despite its half speed performance it still doesn’t even run in HD. Even my now aging laptop has been playing games at 900-1080p at the proper responsiveness performance for years

      It’s not the annoying niggles like the awful material quality on the DS4 sticks that threatens to peal away at any moment, or the woeful battery life, lasting many times shorter than the DS3

      Nor is the poor UI… with its endless horizontal scrolling to flick through your titles

      It’s not the fact that the PS4 still doesn’t do half the things they said it would at last year’s E3. Although the lack of some of those features half a year later is bordering on piss poor

      It’s a combination of everything that adds up to a huge disappointment in the PS4 for me

      Not sure I can afford to have it gathering dust for the next year or so until the games start coming out for it… Not much interested in The Order, yet another cover based shooter from Sony.

      Think I may as well cash-in, pick up Watch Dogs on PS3 or my laptop and carry on with my huge back catalogue… and re-buy a PS4 when more games are out, when devs can get the kind of performance out of they PS4 they can out of a mid-range PC from a couple of years ago, when the FW fixes the endless horizontal scrolling & annoyances like the upload bug (which still sees Sony burying their head in the sand), when the PS4 can do everything sold it on, maybe when there’s a second SKU which doesn’t sound like a jetfighter taking off when the disc spins that’s cheaper & the DS4 last more than a few hours of gaming & sticks are covered in a material that will last

      No doubt Sony will just more stuff from the future – rather than it be about this Christmas season 2014 it will no doubt be stuff for release in 2015 or even beyond.

    • Very understandable sentiments that I’d be echoing but I was just lucky to have held back from a launch grab, not that I didn’t want to buy the console!

      In hindsight I would have been paying half a grand to play one or two games whilst the PS3 and Vita got the bulk of my time blowing dust over the PS4.

      There’s no denying that the console has fantastic capabilities and it is doing the job for some people but in my case waiting a year has made more financial and good housekeeping sense…a year from launch before a racer of significance should appear for starters!

  4. I really do love the PS4 but honestly, like a few people I think, Im just waiting for the games that really give me something to get stuck into. Im not really a big FPS fan but gave Killzone a go. Looked lovely but wasn’t digging it. Loved Resogun and Don’t Starve but want newer / bigger games. Got my eye on inFAMOUS but holding out for Watch Dogs.

    • Infamous is a good game but far too short. I wouldn’t bother paying much over £20 for it.

      • Ive heard a few people say that. Glad I held off. Really hope Watch Dogs lives up to its potential.

  5. Obviously show us some more games to excite us but do make sure that Sony keep honest & transparent, that alone helps us trust them. Oh & show the next version of GT :) I don’t care if it a Prologue just as long as it’s soon ;)

  6. Totally agree with the ‘console in the pocket’ I have felt a bit robbed by that promise!

    Other than that I just want to see Uncharted and the Order, Although I need more wipeout in my life!! Really hoping that’s true. Cross play/buy with vita would be awesome!

  7. I’m sick of indie titles, it’s not an ouya system. Stop making the vita a port & indie factory.

    Make the VR compatitable with the vita, I don’t know in what way but make it happen. Just announce GoW already, Egyptian mythology & winning

  8. I don’t expect to see too much about Morpheus yet, probably they’ll mention the positive feedback they’ve been getting, maybe even announce a few projects in development but i think it’s still some way off before it get’s a commercial release.
    I can’t wait to see what Media Molecule and Quantic Dream have been working on, and hopefully the rumoured DriveClub demo will release alongside the conference too as i can’t wait to get my hands on that beauty!

    And just remembering how stunning it looked as a PS3 project, if The Last Guardian has been reworked for PS4 then we are in for quite a treat.

    A firmware update, adding MP3/DLNA playback, releasing alongside E3 would be perfect.

    No Jack Tretton this year, so we’ll have the new guy (name hasn’t stuck with me yet) and best of luck to him as he has some mighty big boots to fill.

  9. I’m looking forward to finding more about Project Morpheus, hope the release date isn’t to far in the future, and hoping there’s announcement about Gran Turismo coming to PS4.

  10. Hopefully they’ll have Planetside 2 up and running for E3 as well – I’ve heard that they plan to launch end of June?
    So it’s the perfect time for them to hype up the game and the PS4 exclusivity.

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