Sony PlayStation 4 Launch Event Reactions

Sony just wrapped up its PlayStation 4 launch event and the Internet (mixed) reactions have been fun to read. I want to start my thoughts on the presser by talking about how it ended — new hardware wasn’t shown and price points weren’t announced. A lot of Twitter gamers are pissed about this, but I kind of like what Sony did. In pro-wrestling terms, tonight’s event was an episode of Monday Night Raw; there was no need to send the crowd home happy and it was important to keep fans wanting more. The big announcements will be at E3 2013, which is the videogame business’ WrestleMania; that’s when you make sure the fans go home happy. At the very least, it was a controversial ploy. At best, it’ll have people talking and thinking about the PlayStation 4 for months to come.

Now here are some scattered thoughts based on the notes I took during the press conference. Naturally, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the PlayStation 4 and the games/demos shown when you have a chance.

Our House: The show was led by Sony Computer Entertainment group CEO Andrew House. It was interesting to hear him refer to the PlayStation 4 as a “place” or an entertainment hub, rather than a new piece of hardware. It’s indicative of what today’s consumer electronics have become. They’re not just about hardware. As Apple has shown, people want and will buy an experience fueled by a combination of hardware, software, and services.

The Cerny Method: I was thrilled that Mark Cerny had a prominent role in the show and was announced as the lead system architect for PlayStation 4. I also loved that Cerny acknowledged that the ambitious CELL processor in the PlayStation 3 wasn’t the most developer-friendly and said that the PlayStation 4 architecture will be more accessible: “Our goal was to develop an ecosystem that would facilitate the expression of their ideas.”

Cerny also showed his upcoming game Knack. It’s a platformer featuring a cartoon art style and an adorable — but hugely powerful — robot as the protagonist. A few years ago, he told me that he was working on a new project and I’m thrilled that it has been unveiled. The Twitter reaction to the game was overwhelmingly positive, but keep in mind that most of the people I follow are in the gaming business and many are aware of the awesomely awesomeness that is Mark Cerny.

Having someone like Cerny was really refreshing. He’s crazy smart, but also sincere and real.

Controller: The Dual Shock 4 rumors were on the money. In addition to what was already revealed, the new controller will sport a microphone input for chat, a speaker, and a light bar to easily identify different players. Cerny said that the analog sticks and trigger buttons have been improved and are tighter.

Social: Cerny said that the PS4 will have always-on hardware for video compression and decompression. Gamers can record and share clips through Sony’s new social network. In addition to watching your friends play, “famous” people can share their videogame exploits, allowing for an all-new form of stalking. In addition to accessing the network on a console, gamers can catch up with their gamer friends on the PlayStation Vita, smartphones, tablets, and PCs. Expect a flood of companion apps that extend the gaming experience.

Tech Demos: Visually impressive demos using Unreal Engine 4 and Havok were shown to illustrate the power of the new CPU and GPU. While they were very impressive, it wasn’t surprising. New hardware is supposed to have better graphics and tech demos rarely represent what actual games will be like. I was more interested in the new social features and cloud services (more below).

PlayStation Cloud: Dave Perry took the stage to talk about what Sony’s acquisition of Gaikai would bring to the company’s upcoming cloud services. PlayStation Cloud’s mantra is, “Everything Everywhere.” There are two huge goals for the service. First is to have the majority of every PlayStation, PlayStation 2, and PlayStation 3 game available through the cloud. Second is to have every PlayStation 4 game available on the PlayStation Vita through Remote Play.

One of the neat things about PlayStation 4 is background downloading. You’ll be able to start playing a game shortly after the download starts. The early portion of the game hits your system first, while the rest downloads as you play.

Cerny mentioned that the PlayStation 4 will monitor your game choices and pre-download games that it’ll think you like. The recommendation engine will check out what genres you play and what developers you enjoy. This is a nice touch that will help many gamers connect with new games in a more convenient way.

Perry mentioned that developers will be able to find “expert” players on the cloud and grant them special in-game privileges. This caused my Twitter feed to explode with snarky comments about the PlayStation 4 watching you.

I love where Sony is going with digital downloads and streaming. I’m also going to enjoy watching the flame wars about the PS4 not having backwards compatibility with PS3 discs. Flame on!

First-Party Games: Sony trotted out a bunch of first-party games and demos.
Killzone Shadow Fall — While I respect the Killzone series and this demo looked great, it’s not really my thing. I was a little bored.
Driveclub — This is a team-based racing game, which the developer equated with squad-based shooters. My initial thought was to combine the two in a game called Drive-by Club. It looked sweet and team-based driving should make for a fresh racing experience.
inFamous Second Son — Sucker Punch showed a pretty slick demo of its upcoming action game, but I was laughing at my snarky Twitter friends making comparisons to Marc Ecko’s Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure.
The Witness — From the makers of the critically acclaimed Braid comes a bright and colorful puzzle game. While I was charmed by what was shown, the big deal here is that Sony is being very open and friendly to independent developers that want to self-publish. Making a powerful system that millions of people will own accessible is a marvelous thing that should lead to all kinds of creative games hitting the PS4. I love that Sony is continuing down the road it paved with games like FlowerJourney, and The Unfinished Swan.
David Cage — The head of Quantic Dream showed a tech demo of a very detailed and emotive decapitated head. Again, I’m not big on tech demos. As a Quantic Dream mark, I was disappointed that Cage didn’t have something more tangible to show.
Alex Evans — Media Molecule’s co-founder took the stage to show how the PlayStation Move can be used as a 3D modeling tool. My Twitter feed dogged this demo because it involved Move, but I like what was shown here. Giving gamers powerful and easy-to-use tools to make user-created content is a wonderful thing.

Third-Party Games: Sony had several third-party publishing partners show off games and demos too.
Capcom — Yoshinori Ono showed the Panta Rhei engine and a sweet-looking Medieval game called Deep Down (working title). It was pretty impressive, but my Twitter feed flooded with jokes about Deep Down Panty Raid. A few people assumed that this is the next Dragon’s Dogma game.
Square Enix — CTO Yoshihisa Hashimoto showed an impressive tech demo that used the company’s Luminous engine. It would have been way more impressive if the company hadn’t already shown the demo in June 2012. Final Fantasy brand director Shinji Hashimoto promised that a new Final Fantasy game for PlayStation 4 will be announced at E3 2013. My Twitter feed exploded with hate for the old demo and the announcement of a future announcement.
Ubisoft — Yves Guillemot showed a demo of Watch Dogs, which many people are really high on, but I still don’t get. The visuals are cool, but I have yet to see anything that looks fun to play.
Blizzard — Chris Metzen announced that Diablo III is coming to the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4. It will have full-screen four-player cooperative-play. My Twitter feed’s rage meter redlined, but I have no doubt that this “port” of Diablo III will do huge numbers.
Activision — Eric Hirshberg announced that Bungie’s Destiny will be available for PlayStation, which would have been a far bigger deal if it wasn’t already known three days ago.

Final Thoughts: As far as the games go, I’m really psyched for Knack. I’m also intrigued by inFamous: Second Son and Deep Down. That said, I wasn’t terribly excited for most of the announcements. I also would have liked to have seen more new IPs and less tech demos. Really though, this presser was more about the ecosystem. I love that Sony is using an x86 architecture for PlayStation 4, which will make things much easier for developers. I love that Sony is making a big effort with self-publishing for indie devs. I love that Sony found ways to make the PlayStation Vita and PlayStation Move more interesting. As someone that wants to eradicate all the physical media in his apartment, I’m excited for PlayStation Cloud too.

A lot of people are bagging on this presser for not being “Apple” enough, but I can’t think of another consumer electronics company that pulls off press conferences are well as Apple does. I undertand why people are upset — super upset if they didn’t care for the videogames shown — about not seeing the new box and not hearing about the price, but I also understand why Sony didn’t lay all its cards on the table. While it wasn’t perfect, the PlayStation 4 presser has given me a lot to think about. As a verbal entertainer, I have lots of new material to work with.

Now what’s your story? What did you think of the PlayStation 4 press conference?

Author: RPadTV

http://www.RPad.TV

27 thoughts on “Sony PlayStation 4 Launch Event Reactions”

  1. You “don’t get” Watch Dogs?

    Okay let’s see if I can help. Imagine that you are a normal dude in fairly good shape with a good conscience. Then you take one of those pills from Limitless. Now, remember the machine that Batman had at the end of TDK that patched together everyone’s cell phones and find the Joker with, you have that, and a robotic version of Oracle to aid you in your vigilante crime fighting shenanigans.

    All of that in a 3D, GTA type city.

      1. Don’t force yourself, you don’t have to like it or even see the appeal. You’re still awesome.

        Our differences is what makes conversation extra stimulating.

      2. I appreciate that, but I want to at least understand it because people I like and respect (yourself included) seem really high on the game.

      3. I agree with this. Some of my friends are pretty high on this game but I look at it and see another GTA type of game. Ubisoft isn’t know for strong narrative titles and without a strong narrative I can’t finish a GTA game.

        So yeah I have a meh sentiment about it as well.

      4. So… you’re saying that the Assassin’s Creed and Splinter Cell (or any Tom Clancy series) don’t have a strong narrative?

        Either you raided the crack out of the evidence locker while you were still on Mathnet (Square One shoutout), or you might just be out of the loop on this.

        But again, not liking a game or any piece of entertainment with no excuse or reason why is totally acceptable.

      5. No the splinter cell games do not carry a strong narrative for my tastes. The AC games might but I’ve never been able to get past the first one. I played Conviction on the hardest difficulty for the challenge but honestly can’t recall anything substantial about the story.

      6. In both the AC and SC franchises, the narrative evolves over the coarse of all the franchises. Each game has it’s own narrative, but to get the whole thing, it’s recommended that you play the earlier ones as well or else you’ll miss pieces. It’s like watching Return of the Jedi without ever having seen Star Wars or Empire.

        The narrative in SC: Conviction revolved around the loss of Sam’s daughter and the ensuing plot twists.

        All the Ghost Recon Games are military dramas when played solo.

        AC… each one builds the main story of Desmond, but each one alone has the Animus story in it.

        Then there’s Far Cry… which I’ve never played any of, but has amazing reviews.

        Personally, I’m a gameplay mark. If I want a good story, I’ll read it or watch a movie. It’s the interaction with games that keep me in it no matter what the game is. The narrative can make a difference though. For example, I think the gameplay in the MGS games is sluggish and clunky, yet it’s the narrative that keeps me interested. GTA and RDR however is just more about the freedom to screw around however I want to. See, I’m a creative person myself. I enjoy creating. The more a developer allows me to create, the more I generally like it. There are exceptions of coarse, and LBP is one of them. There I feel there’s a lot of creativity in a small box. Once you create cool stuff, you can’t do much with it.

        Basically it’s games that are different every time I pop them in. Sports games, fighters, most shooters, GTA, and RDR are like that. I don’t like the feeling of “going though the motions” or “finding the exact, specific code required”. I get FAR more enjoyment when I feel like I have some degree of creative control.

        My problem with MMO’s has nothing to do with the developers and more to do with the communities. Every guild/league/team/whatever I was ever on in anything basically expected everyone to be on 24/7. Then there are the crybabies about loot. Long and short, bullshit I’m too busy for, which is saying alot since I really don’t do a whole lot to begin with.

      7. With Minecraft, the whole 8 bit look of it gives me a headache after a while. I’m afraid of screwing my vision even more than it already is when I play that game.

        Other than that, I get it. My son is on that game everyday. When I was a little older than him, I was like that with Mariopaint. That game led me to graphic design. I can only imagine where Minecraft is gonna lead my boy.

      8. Ha yeah the 8bit can be grating at times but it all seems worth it when my 20 minute super roller coaster is complete around my mayan temples and lava skyscrapers. once you are zoomed out to notice the scale it’s all worth it :)

      9. Although it’s hard to judge an entire series, generally speaking, the Splinter Cell and Assassin’s Creed series are pretty bad stories. Trust me on this dude, writing and literature is to me what music is to you. I know what makes a good story and I know that the rule applies differently to video games than it does to other forms of media. Both franchises you mention are a classic case of gameplay over story, although they didn’t start out that way. It’s actually a Catch-22 of their success, really. In order to have a good story, you have to have a beginning, middle and end with compelling characters and a decent plot. The problem with most video games is that if the story has an end (and I mean a real “end” end), then the developers handcuff themselves from making future iterations if the game is popular. Of course, if most developers were creative, this wouldn’t be a problem because they could take the “James Bond” approach to making sequels, but unfortunately, there is a huge lack of originality when it comes to sequels in the gaming business (just like the movie business). If something works, game makers are WAY too eager to make the same or similar game and slap a big “2” on the box- story ending of the first game be damned. This is usually the point where it starts to get out of control (*glares at Halo 2*)

        I think Assassin’s Creed peaked at AC 2, although I will reserve judgement because I am now halfway through AC 3 and I want to see how it “ends” before forming an opinion. (Side note: I’ve been playing every game in the AC series back-to-back-to-back-to-back since late last year and I have to say that I wish the original development team would do the sequels. The subtle differences in all these games tend to get aggravating when moving from one game to the next, whether it’s cosmetic or a whole revamp of the combat system [why the fuct did they move the block button from the left trigger from the first four games to the damn “B” button for AC 3, I will never know]). I can say that up until this point, with every passing game, the Desmod story gets more and more … stupid. What started out as something genuinely intriguing quickly spiraled into a clusterfuck of random events trying desperately to be shoe-horned into something resembling coherent (and failing). The Altair story was O.K. (although I hate how they changed his accent from the first game to Revelations. That threw me off.) The Ezio story was the best (although it wasn’t without a few major problems). Like I said before, I will hold my judgement of Ratonhnhake:ton’s story until I am completely done with AC 3.

        Moving on to Splinter Cell, I have a quick rule of thumb that I sometimes use to judge older games: Do you remember the story of the game? If you cannot recall the story of the game you played a few years ago, then chances are it’s not a good story. Good stories stay with you no matter how old they are. Quick; off the top of your head, tell me the plot to Pandora Tomorrow and Chaos Theory. You can’t do it. Probably no one can (not even the people who wrote the story for the game, I’ll bet). It’s tough to remember because Splinter Cell games have what I call a “throw-away” story. They are (sometimes) serviceable stories, but ultimately forgettable. You’ll find that most games have “throw-away” stores, but a precious few that will be forever seared into your brain. Why? Because THOSE are the great stories. Those are the ones you will never forget. I cannot for the life of me remember what the hell the original Splinter Cell was all about, but, yet, it was one of my favorite games on the original Xbox that I played the hell out of. Yet, I can tell you every minute detail of the original Halo’s story, but not Halo 3.

        Ultimately, stories in games are secondary and I know that. Mario games have pretty much no story and it’s one of the most fun I’ve had with video games ever. But if someone is actually going to take the time to create a narrative to attach it to something that ultimately doesn’t need it (see: Black), then you bet your sweet ass that I’m going to sit on my cardboard throne and pass judgment on it.

        But… yeah, SmartGuy is correct when he says that Splinter Cell (and I’ll add in some of the Assassin’s Creed games) do not carry a strong narrative. I mean, yeah, YOU may like it and think it’s good, but I will remind you that Ace of Base’s “Happy Nation” sold 23 million copies. Those 23 million idiots think (or at least thought) that “The Sign” is a good song. I think you may have something to say to those tone-deaf monkeys.

        In my defense… I actually am tone deaf, so their music actually sounds good to me since I don’t hear what you hear.

        -M

      10. If this were it’s own Coffee Talk (Gameplay, Narrative, and the Happy Medium) we’d probably all settle on what constitutes the right formula. However, in a real world scenario, it all gets debunked.

        By your definition of what a good story is (and I disagree), is basically saying that episodic TV shows, the Sherlock Holmes books, and Pulp Fiction are crap. Now, your opinion is exactly that, and it’s totally respectable (can’t stress how respectable it is), but some people just want blood or sex or both in their stories (like the news). The narrative just has to relate it to the audience.

        Smartguy has made this point at least a dozen times regarding both music and films. Although I argued with him about it at first for sport (and mainly to emphasize my distest for something), he’s TOTALLY right. In relating it to music, I can’t play drums to save my life. I could probably learn in time, but it’s not worth the time to me. In any case, I’ve played with many drummers and singers (I’m not the best singer either and I hate playing bass and singing). In many cases I’ve made suggestions on what could sound good where on their part. When people ask the same of me, I get off on rising to the challenge, whereas a lot of other people get offended you even suggest something. That said, in a lot of cases, drummers have said “Can you play drums? No! Than how would you know what sounds good on drums?” and my reply is “Following that logic, Do you make perfumes and fragrances? No!… So I can fart in your face and you wouldn’t know if it smelt good or bad? Or, have you been accustomed to your senses for long enough that you know what you like?”

        The point being is that the often very convincing people who try to define what good or bad art is are really just trying to deal with their own insecurities. Art evokes emotional responses. The differences in those emotional responses is what makes it like magic.

        All that said, I could care less if you like Ace of Base and it doesn’t sway my opinion of you or them in slightest. If I ever ribbed you about it, it would strictly be for comedic purposes. What makes Comedy… is a whole other similar subject. In that case, it would be insult to injury. For example, you see a banana peel sitting on the sidewalk… why is it funny? Is the banan peel on the sidewalk itself funny (like a fish out of water)? Is it only funny once someone slips on it? Or is it funny before someone slips on it just by the thought that someone might slip on it?

      11. You are taking this discussion to a philosophical and even metaphysical level (if that is even possible). I don’t know where you are getting my definition of “good story” from because I don’t think I defined it. Pulp Fiction is a good movie and I’ve only read two or three of Sir Arthur’s Conan Doyle’s books, but I would like to emphasize my previous statement of: “…the rule applies differently to video games than other forms of media.” You cannot compare stories from books, TV shows or movies to video games because games are interactive and they story they tell has to properly fit that medium. Art (paintings and sculptures) and music are on yet another playing field.

        When I look at a game’s story, I try to be as unbiased and honest as possible, but my judgement does not come from just my gut feelings. What makes a good story can be boiled down to something that damn near well resembles a math formula. You can’t really do that with a paintings or music. There is a mental checklist that I go through as I am experiencing the story or after I beat the game, such as: Are the characters well defined? Is there cut scene/gameplay dissonance? (Nightshade gave me the idea for that one). Is the pacing too fast or slow? Is the plot well-defined? Did the story conclude/Was there a proper ending? Do the side quests add or distract from the main story? Was the antagonist well defined? Was the main conflict (Man vs. man, man vs. nature, man vs. himself) defined and resolved? Was there an overuse or abuse of tropes/stereotypes?

        You can define what a good story is because it is simply a matter of certain literary elements combining to form a singular, (and hopefully) coherent narrative (just like atoms combine to form molecules or how natural elements are combined to form Captain Planet). Now, I understand what you are saying is that we will look at those literary elements and see something different (leading us to different opinions), but for the most part, there is a more concrete general consensus (as opposed to abstract) of the definitions of these perimeters even though there is a little wiggle room for your own interpretation(s).

        I guess what I am saying is: if you take the story (just the story and not the gameplay) of Superman 64 to a bunch of professional writers, they will universally agree that the game has a bad story (and I hope that you agree). The reason for that is because they know the elements that make a good story and Superman 64 is severely lacking those elements. There is a general consensus that it is bad by people who know about stories. However, your son may play the game and think it’s the greatest Superman story ever told and you won’t convince him otherwise, of course, but you know better. Right?

        -M

  2. It seems to me like game developers and executives are, for the most part, down to earth, accessible people. Game journalists seem like pretentious hipster douchelords. ( Verbal entertainers excluded, of course )

    1. Ha! This might be favorite comment of the year so far. Developers are generally cool people. Keep in mind that I love people that create things. Executives are mixed, but I’ve never been comfortable with people that could buy you multiple times over. Game journalists….

  3. I’m in but I’m weary of the cloud. I’d hate to buy those ps3 games again to play it from the cloud

  4. I thought they were too few on details honestly. I’m an early adopter and I didn’t feel they sold me on any feature last night. The Cloud service is actually the most intriguing aspect to their new cycle and I’d have liked them to flesh that out more. Will I pay a subscription like Live and have access to back catalogs of titles? They omitted discussing used games which seems to have been a hotbed amongst the blogs. I know someone said that they aren’t blocking them on eurogamer but Sony isn’t known for sticking by what they say. Remember they were going to let Microsoft debut and launch before the PS4.

    What the presentation did do was confirm that with the advancement of mobile tech, a new game console cannot rely solely on polygon counts and memory to wow me. I’ve had PS4 graphics for at least the last year. I thought it was good they focused on the ecosystem. They have an uphill climb trying to get people off of an Apple, Google, or Amazon ecosystem though.

    My bet for what the sleeper feature is will be the spectate function. This will bring competitive gaming to the masses beyond League of Legends and StarCraft. I’d fully expect CoD tournaments and such to be big things in the next gen. I love playing games, but I also love watching people play League. Could be a huge draw and something that if done right, I’d sub to in order for quality streams.

    1. Totally agree with you on ecosystem, mobile, and spectating. Imagine people watching celebrities play Madden against each other?

      Shuhei Yoshida was the one Eurogamer quoted as saying that PS4 will not block used games. He’s probably my favorite Sony exec, so I’m (perhaps naively) going to believe him.

  5. “Gamers can record and share clips through Sony’s new social
    network. In addition to watching your friends play, “famous” people can share
    their videogame exploits, allowing for an all-new form of stalking”

    Did Sony actually listen to my idea and adapt it for the PS4? Does this mean that we can watch what other people are playing LIVE or will it only be a recording and then video share? It would be cool to witness friends playing against other friends in a game… such as Mortal Kombat.

    -M

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