Can Sony keep pace at E3?
The pressure is on Sony, as usual, as it gets ready to take the stage for its annual E3 press briefing. Does it have enough big news to steal the spotlight from Microsoft and Nintendo?
LOS ANGELES--Question: if everybody already knows what you're going to announce at a press conference, can you still surprise people?
Microsoft proved on Monday that the answer is yes; everyone knew that the company would be releasing some kind of motion-sensitive control system, yet no one was prepared for how polished the product,, actually turned out to be.
Now, Sony is getting ready for its own moment in the spotlight at E3 here, and the pressure, as always, is on. Almost certain is a newly redesigned PlayStation Portable, or PSP Go, as it's being called. And there's also been talk of Sony having some kind of new motion-sensitive controller, as well.
For more on what Sony actually does announce, stay tuned to this page. We're live-blogging Sony's press briefing, which started shortly after 11 a.m. Pacific. Sister site Gamespot has posted video from the live stream of the Sony keynote here.
11:14 a.m.: Sony Computer Entertainment America President and CEO Jack Tretton begins by joking, "given this industry's ability to keep secrets, I was worried there wouldn't be any reason to come to this press conference."
11:16 a.m.: Tretton, in his introduction, touts the strength of the entire PlayStation platform--PS3, PS2, and PlayStation Portable--and said that 30 percent of the industry's sales in 2008 were from Sony's combined platforms.
11:19 a.m.: He adds that with the PS2 selling for $99, it continues to be the Sony standard bearer. There are currently more than 2,000 games for the PS2, and will be an additional 100-plus new games this year.
As for the PS3, there have been 22 million units sold globally so far, and Sony predicts sales of 13 million more in fiscal 2010.
11:21 a.m.: One of the biggest games coming to PS3, Tretton says, is Naughty Dog's "Uncharted 2: Among Thieves." Starting tonight, the game will go into open beta. The game is one of 35 titles that will be exclusive for PS3 this year, Tretton added. Another he touted excitedly, and which got a loud reception from the audience, is InFamous. One thing is clear from that audience reception: Sony has its own passionate fans, much like Nintendo does.
Evan Wells from Naughty Dog comes onstage to show a demo of "Uncharted 2: Among Thieves."
An ear-splitting demo of "Uncharted 2" gets very loud, excited applause.
11:27 a.m.: Next up, Zipper Interactive comes up to show off its forthcoming PS3 game, "MAG," which can support 256 simultaneous players, including people playing remotely.
11:37 a.m.: Tretton is back on stage, talking about the functionality of the PSP. Last year, he says, Sony sold 15 million PSPs, pushing the device to more than 50 million units sold in its lifetime.
He says there are a series of hot games coming to the PSP, including "City of Final Fantasy" on August 25, and "Assassin's Creed: Bloodlines" on November 10. Sony is also working with Disney to introduce a Hannah Montana bundle, complete with a colored PSP. It will be available this July.
Next up, Kaz Hirai (CEO of Sony's Networked Products and Services Group) comes on stage to introduce the much-anticipated the PSP Go, also known, he joked, "as the worst-kept secret" in the video game business. (Watch video of.)
"The PSP Go is 50 percent smaller" than the existing PSP.
11:41 a.m.: The PSP Go, Hirai says, will feature 16 gigabytes of internal Flash memory; built-in Wi-Fi; integrated Bluetooth and a new system, Media Go, which will be the application used on the PSP Go to access the PlayStation Store.
The PSP Go will be available on October 1, simultaneously in North America and Europe. It will cost $249.99. Hirai says "All PSP titles going forward will be digitally distributed on the PlayStation store, as well as at retail on (the UMD format).
11:42 a.m.: He also says that Sony's video service will be available natively on the PSP Go, making it easier than ever to download video to the device.
11:43 a.m.: Video content will be available from leading providers like Showtime, G4, E, Starz, and others. One big game that will be available on the PSP, will be "Gran Turismo."
11:50 a.m.: Hirai says "Gran Turismo" will be released for PSP on October 1.
11:51 a.m.: Next up, Hideo Kojima from Kojima Productions comes onstage to introduce "Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker" for the PSP.
11:52 a.m.: Kojima says the new game takes place 10 years after the events of "Metal Gear Solid 3." So it takes place in the 1970s.
11:59 a.m.: After a rousing video demonstration of the new "Metal Gear Solid" PSP game, Hirai thanks the audience and brings Tretton back on-stage. Tretton then introduces "Resident Evil: Portable," the latest title in a long-standing franchise. It will be available next year, and will be the first time the franchise will be available on PSP. Tretton says "Little Big Planet," "Hannah Montana," "Harry Potter," and a few other franchises will also be coming to PSP for the first time.
12:05 p.m.: Tretton says the PlayStation Network now has more than 24 million users who have collectively downloaded more than 475 million pieces of content. There are more than 200 titles available on the PlayStation store, 90 of which are exclusive.
He also says Sony is bringing almost 50 PlayStation 1 classic games to the PlayStation store this year, including "Final Fantasy VII," which is available as of today.
12:06 p.m.: Next up, Tretton talks about Sony Home, the company's online virtual world. He says Home now has more than 6.5 million users worldwide, and that the service is adding more than 100 virtual items each month.
12:08 p.m.: Now, Tretton rolls a video to show the audience "what's on tap for PlayStation 3 this year." It includes clips from "Uncharted 2," "Infamous," "Madden NFL 10," "Final Fantasy XIII," "MAG," "Overlord II," "Batman: Arkham Asylum," "Brutal Legend," "Ninja Gaiden 2," "Mafia 2," "Karaoke Revolution," "Heavy Rain," "Battlefield 1943," "Hustle Kings," "Trash Panic," "Critter Crunch," "Tekken 6," "Red Faction Guerrilla," "Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10," "Dark Void," "G-Force" (The guinea pig movie, not Gatchaman), "Planet 51," "Gravity Crash," and others.
12:13 p.m.: But perhaps the biggest cheer of all came when "God of War II" came up on the video screen.
12:15 p.m.: Tretton announces a new PS3 exclusive: "Agent," from Rockstar Games, the creator of the "Grand Theft Auto" franchise. And then it was time to introduce "Assassin's Creed II."
12:21 p.m.: A long video played, showcasing the game's beautiful graphics and its innovative new weapons. The game will be available this holiday.
12:22 p.m.: Tretton then introduced a video showing some tidbits from Square Enix's forthcoming "Final Fantasy XIII."
12:26 p.m.: After the video, Tretton elicits shouts from around the Shrine Auditorium of "what?" when he announced that Square Enix would be releasing "Final Fantasy XIV" exclusively for the PS3 in 2010. He then introduces a video of "Final Fantasy XIV" and adds, jokingly, "So there's one that didn't leak out, huh?"
Then Tretton moved on to motion-control, and said "We're working to create an experience that's much closer to real life than anything you've experienced."
12:35 p.m.: Two demonstrators come up on stage to show how the system--still very much a prototype, they said--works. The controller can be used to direct game play including the wielding of swords, shooting darts, or in a first-person shooter mode. It can also be used to write with a high level of precision, and to paint as if with a paintbrush, or a spraypaint can.
It can also be used for subtle touch, such as carefully trying to knock over a series of dominoes.
12:39 p.m.: The controller has a real one-to-one relationship between the person wielding it and what is seen on-screen. And it also offers tension-based control, such as pulling back the string on a bow to shoot an arrow.
12:40 p.m.: With this system, Sony quickly joined Nintendo and Microsoft with an advanced motion-control system, and set off an arms race with this technology. Tretton says the system should be launched in spring of 2010.
12:42 p.m.: Then, touting the success of "Little Big Planet" on the PS3, and the fact that it's coming to PSP, Tretton announces that an entirely new "play, create, share" franchise would be coming to PS3: "ModNation Racers." (Watch the.)
12:49 p.m.: The game features a wide range of creation tools, a high degree of physical realism and a lot of real-time physics. It also allows players to quickly add physical features to a racetrack, such as trees, water, even little sheep. All of that happens simply by dragging a pointer along the screen where players want to add the features.
And that means that players can build fully playable race tracks from scratch in a matter of minutes.
ModNation Racers will be released in 2010.
12:57 p.m.: Tretton then introduces another PS3 exclusive, "The Last Guardian," a beautiful-looking game from Masashi Kudo.
Next up, a video from "Gran Turismo 5," for the PS3, the latest iteration of the venerable franchise, and by the looks of the promo video, a very full-featured racing game.
Tretton says the game will be exclusive to PS3.
1:00 p.m.: Another big crowd-pleaser is next, a demo of "God of War III."
1:03 p.m.: A long video of "God of War III" showcases its impressive graphics and it seems the many passionate fans of the franchise will be impressed when the game is released.
1:06 p.m.: "God of War III" is scheduled for release in the spring of 2010. In the meantime, the full demo and an additional 20 minutes of game play are available on the E3 show floor.
1:07 p.m.: And that's going to do it for Sony's presentation.