E3 2013: Sony Press Briefing

Sony made a lot of gamers happy with the PS4's price point. Christina Santiago

Sony executive Jack Tretton walked onto the stage while the song "Radioactive" blared at PlayStation's E3 briefing Monday. A more apropos song would have been "Boom" because Sony was about to lower it on Microsoft. Sony landed what might be a knockout punch before the next-gen consoles have even been released, announcing that the PS4 will debut at $399 -- $100 less than Microsoft's Xbox One -- and said that the system will support used games and won't need an internet connection, which is in direct contrast to Xbox One's policies.

Sony decided to save these reveals toward the end of the briefing, and the news was greeted with a rousing ovation inside the briefing and virtually on social networks. Tretton made sure that the message was extremely clear, discussing in a bullet-point breakdown how you can share and trade in games the same way you always could. This was a direct shot at Microsoft, whose message about used games has been muddled and confusing since the Xbox One's reveal.

The only aspect of the announcement that wasn't entirely clear was the need for PS4 owners to be members of PlayStation Plus -- Sony's premium tier -- in order to play online. (Sony later confirmed that PS4 users will need PlayStation Plus to play online.) Sony had touted how online play was free during the current generation as opposed to Microsoft, which required Xbox Live Gold in order to play online. PlayStation Plus is a subscription service that runs $50 a year but has given members access to select titles on the PS3 and PlayStation Vita as long as your membership is active. It also granted discounts to games and add-on content that you could keep even if you decided to end your membership. Sony did announce that PS Plus members will receive "DriveClub," a launch title for the PS4, for free. If you already are a member of PS Plus, it will carry over to the PS4 at no additional cost. So you will have access to select Vita, PS3 and PS4 titles.

But even with this bit of bad news, Sony's consumer-first approach will undoubtedly resonate with gamers. The real question is if gamers who have developed friendships on the Xbox 360 will jump ship and head toward the PS4? It will be interesting to see if the price point and consumer-first policies will win over.

Sony also revealed the form factor of the PS4. The company called the design "sleek and impactful" and it definitely had a unique look. It had a combination of matte and glossy sections with an asymmetrical overall design. The system can be placed vertically or horizontally.

Sony put some spotlight on its powerful but commercially struggling handheld. The PS Vita will be able to stream every PS4 game over WiFi. If that does fully come to fruition, the Vita might become a must purchase for those contemplating picking up a PS4. More than 85 titles will launch on the PlayStation Vita by the end of this year, including the highly anticipated first-person shooter "Killzone Mercenary" and "Batman Arkham Origins Blackgate". Sony also revealed that the HD versions of God of War 1 and 2 are coming to the Vita along with "Final Fantasy X" and 10.2, "Dead Nation", "Flower" and the critically acclaimed "Walking Dead" along with the series' newly announced "400 Days" DLC. Sony also announced a "Walking Dead" bundle that will include the original episodes and the new DLC.

Sony showed that it's not turning its back on the PS3 either. The critically acclaimed PS3 exclusive "The Last of Us" is coming out June 14. Other upcoming exclusive titles for the current-gen console are the "Puppeteer," "Rain," "Beyond Two Souls," and "Gran Turismo 6" The PS3 will also get exclusive DLC for "Batman Arkham Origins".

Sony also announced a PS3 bundle for arguably the biggest release this year -- "Grand Theft Auto 5". The bundle, which will include a copy of "GTA 5", a 500 GB PS3 and a 30-day trial of PlayStation Plus and will go on sale Sept. 17 for $299. There will also be a "GTA 5" branded headset that will also be released for the PS3 for $179.

But the focus was squarely on the PS4. Sony said there will 20 titles to launch in the first year of PS4 -- 12 being new IPs. One of those new IPs was developer Ready at Dawn's "The Order 1886". The title appears to take place in the Victorian period with advanced weaponry. The four characters stepped out of a horse and carriage and began firing these weapons (one appearing to charge up an electric burst) at creatures that were lurking in the fog. There was also new gameplay for "Killzone Shadow Fall". The focus of the gameplay was how you can deploy a drone that will aid your character in combat. At one point the drone released an electric shield that deflected enemy firepower. The drone was also used offensively, attacking foes from the sky.

Sony announced that Killzone, "DriveClub" (racing) and "Knack" (family-friendly action) will be available at the launch of the PS4, which is scheduled for this holiday season. "inFamous Second Son" -- the third installment in the open-world series -- is targeting an early 2014 release.

Publisher Square Enix also made its presence felt at the Sony briefing. "Final Fantasy 15" and "Kingdom Hearts III" are also headed to the PS4 along with other multiplatform titles like Ubisoft's "Assassin's Creed IV Black" and "Watch Dogs" and 2K's NBA 2K14. Sony said there are 140 games in development.

Sony showed a wide array of titles, especially for the upcoming PS4. There was a solid stable of exclusives headed to the platform but nothing that stood head and shoulders above the rest. But with Sony's history of creating ground-breaking first-party titles, the PS4's portfolio of great games should begin growing in the coming years. Sony came away as a big winner thanks to the PS4's used-games and online policies and the price point. Will it be enough to get out in front of Microsoft for the next generation?

  • Nunzio Ingrassia

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