“Where do you need to go?” asked my taxi driver.
“The Manhattan Center,” I replied then thought, “...for the PlayStation 4. At least I believe it is.”
In the weeks leading up to February 20th, I knew this had to be it. This was the event where Sony would push Nintendo aside and say, “This is when next-gen starts. This will be the future.” And when I arrived outside the Manhattan Center, where the Hammerstein Ballroom resides, there wasn’t a doubt in the minds of anyone there that Sony would unveil their long-awaited PlayStation 4.
Amassed in front of my eyes was the astounding excitement of the gaming world presented in person. Journalists and business people, small and large, from across the globe stood around me waiting in anticipation to see the next PlayStation. Everyone was chatting about the various rumors and leaks in the past weeks. What Sony needs to do. What they shouldn’t do. How about that controller? But no one, absolutely no one, suggested this was anything but the PS4.
I noticed a lot of Japanese press especially -- every major television network in Japan, from TV Tokyo to NHK, had sent a camera crew and reporters. One Japanese cameraman jumped up and down in the New York City cold, perhaps to stay warm. I like to think he just couldn’t hold his enthusiasm any further.
Unfortunately, traffic and a shuttle driver taking a roundabout way caused me to miss the early badge pickup so I stood in the line to the right to confirm my credentials. When the time hit 5:15 PM, that line pushed forward as people tried to get their IDs checked and badges for admittance.
Next to me was the editor-in-chief of Kotaku, Stephen Totilo, who began waiting on the few front steps of the Manhattan Center to wedge himself to the front of the credentials line. “Curious,” I though to myself, “Kotaku is based in NYC, not sure why he didn’t get the early badge pickup.” I took his lead and moved up onto the steps myself. But the line was moving slow and it seemed that Sony wouldn’t start on time.
However, everyone managed to get in for the conference to start on time! A Sony first! Lights dimmed. Suddenly, a sizzle reel looking back on the PlayStation 3 commenced, complete with booming sound and flashing lasers. A walk down memory lane for many of us and a reminder on how great the PlayStation 3 generation really has been.
Then when the words, “PlayStation 4” left the mouth of Sony Computer Entertainment president and group CEO Andrew House, everyone breathed a sigh of relief, proceeded by an instant hunger to know and see more.
Look here at the DualShock 4! Here’s social! New UI & profiles! Here’s capturing & streaming! Gaikai streaming and cloud everything! Bam!
The rest was a little bit of a roller coaster ride. We rode down to the lowest low was when Square Enix brought their technical director Yoshihisa Hashimoto, who they flew all the way from Japan, to present the same Agni's Philosophy demo from last year’s E3. Eyes glazed over the stage and people resumed writing on their laptops and checking smartphones. A stark contrast was the reaction following the Watch Dogs demo. People not only applauded loudly, they cheered without hesitation. Ubisoft more than anyone there showed a real next-gen gameplay experience, not just visuals.
Sony left us with one more detail: a release date of Holiday 2013. All these amazing concepts to look forward to are less than a year away! People rushed out of the Hammerstein eager to tell their friends and the world about what they had seen. It was a vision worth sharing.
The following day, as I wandered around Times Square, there were a number of everyday New Yorkers chatting away about the PS4 like when Steve Jobs first unveiled the first iPhone. At a Japanese chain store named Book-Off which sells used English and Japanese media, a teenage boy was amazed to see all the video games then exclaimed to his girlfriend next to him, “...and then there’s the PS4! I can’t wait.”
Neither can the world.