Ah, E3. Like Christmas, it comes but once a year, and each time fills us with giddy excitement, and – like the ritual of chewing the fat with the in-laws over the holiday season – a distinct knot of dread. Sure, it’s all fine and dandy jetting off to LaLa Land to catch a glimpse of tomorrow’s games in action, but the conditions aren’t exactly pristine. Sharing a cramped hotel room with a bunch of sweaty blokes isn’t exactly high on anyone’s annual ‘to do’ list, and then there’s the queues. Oh, the queues. But that’s enough pessimism for one day. Beyond riding the tidal wave of digesting an exorbitant amount of PR assets, meeting insane deadlines and churning out countless hands-on impressions, E3 is just a bloody awesome experience. And for that, we love it dearly.
2011 is shaping up to be arguably one of the biggest years in gaming history, let alone Sony’s, and therefore should play host some eyeball-popping spectacles. Half the year has nearly passed with a series of stonking PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Portable offerings, and with six more months to go – not to mention teasing next year’s line-up – expectations are understandably high for the platform holder’s anticipated E3 presser. As such, PSU has highlighted the key areas where Sony can guarantee rapturous applause, while concurrently avoiding another 2006-esque cringe-fest.
Join us now as we list our expectations for Sony’s E3 2011 festivities.
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It’s all about the games, innit
As shouty man Kevin Butler said at last year’s presser, Sony should focus on the only thing that "really matters -- the games." And despite the ostentatious antics that would follow suit, he was bang on the money. Ok, so at the time Kev was also talking up PlayStation Move and how it aimed to bridge the gap between hardcore and casual gamers, but it was all said in good faith. At the end of the day, it all comes down to the exclusives Sony has up its sleeves, and boy does it have plenty. As such, Sony needs to get its kit off, slap on some spray tan and flex its meaty software muscles for all to see. We’re not just talking obvious heavy hitters like Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception and Resistance 3, either. Sure, those are great, and Sony will want to push them down our throats as much as possible. But more to the point, it’s the inevitable slew of fresh game announcements that’ll turn heads; we’ve heard plenty of gossip regarding Syphon Filter 4, Sly Cooper 4 and God of War 4, all three of which would make for quite a triple show-stealing spectacle.
Or how an update on some games that have been out of the limelight for a while, such as Agent or The Last Guardian? Indeed, a fresh glimpse at a PS3-exclusive from Rockstar will surely go a long way this year. Also, cut the fluff. Sure, Butler’s presence at E3 last year was a good laugh, but what did his constant waffling actually achieve apart from cementing how awesome videogames are? It’s time that Sony could have used to put something else in the spotlight. If Big Kev does pop up again, cut the irreverent babble and have him announce something that’ll blow us away. VP of Megatons perhaps? Oh, and there’s also PlayStation Move. Needless to say, the peripheral could really do with a kick up the backside; it’s been thrashed in the hardware wars by Kinect, and desperately needs that head-turning triple-A effort to take genuine advantage of the technology. Sorcery looks particularly intriguing, so perhaps it’d be a good idea to show more on that. Sell us the tech and give us a reason to blow the dust off it and get us wiggling our wands again, Sony. But more to the point, just give us a smorgasbord of live demos and game announcements to gobble up.
Moving on from PSN-gate for good and looking to the future
It can’t be escaped. Aside from costing the hardware manufacturer a whopping $172.1 million, PSN’s spring outage was a substantial blow to consumer confidence, tainting many loyal Sony followers’ belief in the console maker. For some, the damage done was irrevocable; punters cancelled their PSN accounts and even traded in their PS3’s for hard cash or an Xbox 360 out of pure frustration. Now, we’re not suggesting that Sony needs to put a major focus on the PSN crisis at E3 – far from it. However, it needs to be acknowledged, and more importantly, set in stone that Sony is ready to move on from the hack job once and for all. And what better way than by announcing some meaty PSN-exclusives? We’ve already heard this week that Q Games plans on announcing some fresh entries in its lauded PixelJunk series, which is a brilliant start in itself. More exclusives, more features, and it’d be nice to see what PS Home plans the firm has up its sleeves too.
Just as the 3DS was the hardware highlight for last year, Sony’s latest pocket brick, the Next-Generation Portable (NGP) will surely set gums flapping for 2011’s E3 showcase. Of course, it’d be disingenuous to suggest that Sony doesn’t face some sturdy competition; after all, Nintendo’s Project Café is set to be revealed at the show, and Microsoft is sure to whip out the big guns at some point, so NGP needs to step up to the mark if it doesn’t want to be left eating dust. After a brief tease in January, E3 needs to be THE big reveal for the portable, and by that, we mean the full works – price tag, release date, fresh game announcements, live demos, the works. We’ve already been offered a brief glimpse at what the NGP can do from a visual perspective with Uncharted, so how about we get to see some innards this time around? What else can NGP do? What separates it from the competition? Why should we bother with the rise of smart phones and cheap n’ cheerful App Store content? Sony not only needs to show us exactly what NGP is capable of, but more importantly, why we should care. Let’s face it, PSP was a fine platform, but its success has been deflating in the west for the past few years. We don’t want a repeat performance with the slab’s successor. This is the change to stimulate its handheld marketshare in the west and capture new crowds while they're at it.
So, we’ve heard mention of some of the triple-A franchises poised to make the transition to handheld heaven – now let’s see them in the flesh. Sony needs to drum up as much hype as possible by showing off the likes of Resistance, Killzone, Call of Duty, WipEout 2048 and other confirmed heavy hitters, and E3 is the perfect place to finally pull the curtain back on them. Not only that, but how about dropping a couple of bombshells while they’re at it? Nothing like a God of War NGP, Resident Evil or fresh IP unveiling to floor jaws and set tongues wagging. The latter is especially important, as it’d be spiffing to see NGP’s unique features used as an outlet of creativity for developers and not just a dumping zone for sequels and ports. Elsewhere, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to lift the lid on the device’s official name while they’re at it, which has been heavily rumored to be known as PlayStation Vita. Still, it’s all about that all-important price tag, which will surely make or break those early adoption rates. Whatever happens, punters don’t want to hear Kazuo “Riiidge Racer” Hirai confirming that Sony’s rolling out another exorbitantly-priced piece of kit for the holiday season – our wallets are still in intensive care following the PS3’s 2006 debut.
Still, Sony has everything going for it and can potentially steal the show by riding on the momentum of the past two years. So, here’s to another E3, and one that should solidify why 2011 could easily be crowned the Year of the PlayStation.
Let us know your expectations in the comments section below.