E3 2008: SCEA talks about 10-year plans, trots out software guns for 2008
July 15, 2008
E3 2008: SCEA talks about 10-year plans, trots out software guns for 2008
By Michael Lafferty
Sony E3 press conference held at Shrine auditorium
The event started with an impressive display of large screen trailers, with sight and sound that laid the foundation for what promised to be an impressive display worthy of what E3 once was. From that point on, it became a progressive story of SCEA’s place in the industry, focusing on its three consoles and is fledgling PlayStation Network service.
Jack Trenton, president and CEO of SCEA, was the event’s host, hitting the high points of his company’s accomplishments as well as what the future may hold, while intermixing some lighthearted moments with the fury of game video. He made it very clear, early on, that “we are here to talk about kick-ass games.”
Sony’s press conference took place at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles on the first full day of the Electronic Entertainment Expo. As the Sony event unfolded, Trenton noted that the Shrine auditorium has been host to some big entertainment industry events and then went on to predict that 2008 would be the year of the PS3.
“I hope that what you see here today will be enough to get your blood pumping,” he said.
He noted that PlayStation consoles were given the green light 20 years ago this week, and that “from the very beginning our customers came to expect something very different from us, just as we were expecting something very different from ourselves.”
He went on to note that each of the Sony systems is planned for a 10-year life cycle, with that evolution including titles that get progressively bigger and better. “Today we have what no other company has, three successful platforms in the marketplace at once.”
It was then time to show off one of the headliners upcoming for the PS3 – Resistance 2 from Insomniac. Insomniac CEO Ted Price was on hand to show new footage. In the original, the lead character, a U.S. soldier was sent to Great Britain to help in the battle against the Chimera, an alien threat that seemed to spawn out of biological experiments in the Soviet Union, had spread is contagion across Europe, transforming the landscape and citizenry into hideous monsters, that may or may not be infected with alien DNA. Hale was infected with the Chimera virus but had not changed; he had, though, acquired some of the Chimera’s enhanced perceptive properties. Resistance 2 takes place in the U.S. The war in Europe has reached the shores of North America, and 1951 Chicago was lost to the invaders (this game takes place in the 1950s in an alternate universe, but with an Earth of that time frame).
Resistance 2 is the story of a country under siege, Price said. It is much more than a single-player game, much more than an eight-player online coop game or even 64-player online team shooter game. “It’s all about scale,” Price said, noting that the game is much more expansive than its predecessor. Price also introduced new footage with a level, featuring all in-game assets, from the devastation around Twin Falls, Idaho.
When Price was done, Trenton noted that “Resistance 2 is an epic title that will blow you away.”
As he swung into the business end of Sony’s dealings, Trenton employed custom content from the game Little Big Planet, a title that is all about playing, creating levels and sharing them online (featuring Sack Boy). Media Molecule was on hand to help Trenton’s presentation and it was noted that LBP is “something you can play with your six-year old daughter, or your hardcore friends, and you will come away with a smile on your face.”
The numbers crunched by Trenton were impressive. SCEA has generated $6.6 billion in revenue in the first six months of the year. Analysts have predicted that the overall projected income for the entire industry will top $23 billion in 2008. Since 1995 SCEA has generated more than $50 billion in revenue, but 2008 is looking to add markedly to that with distribution finally heading into Latin America. And, Trenton announced, some of SCEA’s greatest hits will be filtering into the PSNetwork with a $29.99 price tag – titles that include the original Resistance: Fall of Man as well as Call of Duty 3, Rainbow Six Vegas, Assassin’s Creed, Elder Scrolls and Ninja Gaiden.
And look for the PS2 to continue to get some love in 2008. There will be more than 130 titles released for the PS2 in 2008, including NCAA Football, Star Wars Force Unleashed, Singstar Pop vol. 2, Yakuza 2, Madden XX Years, and Mercenaries 2.
“One thing that always established the PlayStation 2 is that we have always developed product for everybody,” Trenton said.
When it came to the PSNetwork it was announced that all players will have a single sign-in so that wherever they go, they can sign in and find their friends. “We are working to make the PlayStation Network your destination,” he said. He stated that there have been 180 million downloads off the PSNetwork since Nov. 2006.
“What’s an E3 press conference without a few surprises,” Trenton asked and then turned again to Insomniac, which trotted out Ratchet & Clank: Quest for Booty. It is a continuation of the Future game, sporting some new physics and a new wrench for Ratchet. The title will appeal to those who enjoyed Tools of Destruction and want more answers to Clank’s mysterious disappearance, and will retail for $14.95 this summer on the PSNetwork.
“You don’t have to pick between quality and quantity, you can have both (on the PSN),” Trenton said and then showed other titles coming to the PSNetwork, which included Crash Commando, Fat Princess, Pixel Junk, Flower, Pain: Amusement Park, Siren: Blood Curse, and Ragdoll Kung Fu: Fists of Plastic.
“On the PlayStation Network anyone can see we have a wide range of content,” Trenton said.
On August 1, Gran Turismo TV will sign on through GT5 Prologue. The GT TV will bring real footage from motor racing sports from around the world, all in high-def, and include programs from Japan, the BBC and other nations.
Trenton briefly discussed the PlayStation Home title, which has continually evolved to be much more than an online chat with avatars, but now is a multi-user, multi-game lobby that will allow gamers to meet, and find gaming partners. He also said the PSNetwork will be improved with rentals and sell-throughs for movies and television shows, and will have partners like Sony Pictures, 20th Century Fox, Lionsgate, MGM, Disney, Funimation, and Turner. And once you download content, it will also be portal, meaning you can download it to your PS3 (or your PC) and then transfer it to the PSP.
“I am happy to announce this new service will be available tonight,” Trenton said.
“Obviously the PSP integration will give us a big competitive advantage,” he noted.
It was a solid way to move into the talk about the PSP. “From a portable gaming perspective,” Trenton said, “there is no equal.” He cited the Slim PSP and its multi-platform connectivity and then introduced the latest bundled package for the system. The Ratchet & Clank Size Matters bundle will include the PSP with National Treasure 2, Echochrome, all for $199.
Then a new PSP title was shown – Resistance: Retribution, a third-person shooter that will fill the PSP screen with action that is solidly Resistance and is set for release in Spring 2009. Also coming is Patapon 2, Loco Roco 2, Star Wars Force Unleashed, Madden 09, NBA 09: The Inside, Super Stardust Portable, Lego Batman: The Videogame, Buzz Master Quiz, and Valkyria Chronicles.
Then it was time for the PS3 reveals …
He announced Life with PlayStation, which will feature news, weather and Webcam feeds. And Sony Online has joined the SCEA family and the PS3. For the first time ever, DC Universe Online, from SOE, was shown. Comic book legend and DC Universe Online Executive Creative Director Jim Lee was there to show off footage, noting the world has been built ground up from scratch for three years.
“This really is a dream project for me in many ways,” Lee said. “It is one I have been training for my whole life. (He was the artist on Superman and Batman comics, and is an avid gamer – with a serious addiction to MMOs). Today marks the day I get to merge these two passions together.” Available on PS3 and PC, DC Universe Online will allow players to fight with or against all your favorite DC legends.
Trenton noted that developers are starting to harness the power of the PS3, and that “first-party games have an incredible advantage.” Then he showed off the upcoming lineup of titles that included Little Big Planet, Motorstorm Pacific Rift, Quantum of Solace, SOCOM U.S. Navy Seals: Confrontation, Ghostbusters, Soul Calibur IV, The Agency, Naruto Ultimate Ninja: Storm, Mirror’s Edge, Resident Evil 5, SingStar, Guitar Hero World Tour, NBA 09: The Inside, Buzz Quiz TV and Killzone 2.
“I’m sure you can see why we are so excited about the rest of the year,” he said. But he said the goodness does not stop with 2008 and that beyond the holiday season, “yes, it is true – God of War 3 is coming to the PS3.”
Sucker Punch, the studio behind Sly Cooper, is bring Infamous to the PS3, a game that features an open reactive world with players taking on the role of a super hero with the option to save or destroy what remains of society. That title will launch in Spring 2009.
The event wrapped up but Trenton had one more title to talk about, a game he said would push the PS3 hardware to the max.
Zipper Interactive’s Andy Beaudoin presented MAG (Massive Action Game), which is a brand new IP featuring massive online battles. The game does not have NPCs, but rather will support battles of 256 players with teams broken down into eight-player squads. The game will feature some RPG type elements with character growth against the backdrop of faction-based combat and ongoing campaigns.
In all, the SCEA press
conference was full of promise for some gaming goodness in the last half of
2008, but also was used to reinforce SCEA’s position in the industry. The
event was bright, bold, filled with trailers that assaulted visually and
aurally – in other words, it is exactly what was wanted from Sony.