Tuesday, 24 June 2008

What Sony needs at E3

Regardless of you gaming preference, it is difficult to deny that Sony has some good offerings in store, and its probable that there are other key software which we are unaware of. 2008 has been a good year for Sony but the game releases are, currently, not mainstream enough to truly accelerate the Playstation 3, but I will acknowledge that the next six months could prove otherwise. However, 2009 offers different and better possibilities, and with Sony enjoying success this year, it could be that much better in the more potential 'Year of the PS3': 2009. Here are the key areas Sony must target to get them firing in the console race:

1. Rectify the JRPG situation

Sony will first want to dampen the euphoria around Microsoft's surprise Japanese RPG announcements. Revalidation of The Last Remnant could dent the early release of the Xbox 360 version, but Sony would need to provide a concrete date for both White Knight Chronicles and Final Fantasy XIII. Information on Final Fantasy Versus XIII would be appreciated, along with the possible confirmation of the rumoured Dark Cloud 3. These titles easily hold their weight against the Xbox 360 exclusives but Sony can further add doubt into the minds of potential Xbox 360 owners: announcing an English port of Eternal Sonata could be very pivotal for a couple reasons. Eternal Sonata was once an Xbox360 exclusive, by Namco Bandai, who just so happen to be developing Tales of Versperia, which seems to be another timed-exclusive, unless Famitsu are to be believed about an exclusive Tales title for the Playstation 3. This could lessen the effect of Tales of Versperia and The Last Remnant. As well as including Disgaea 3, X Edge and Tears to Tiara in their lineup could easily make many question the JRPG support on the Xbox360.

2. Celebrate the Playstation 2, and leave it to rest
The Playstation 2 is one of the best selling consoles in existence, and helped Sony gain a valuable footing on the gaming industry.
But with both the Playstation 3 and Playstation Portable not selling at an expected pace, it might prove best for Sony to encourage Playstation 2 owners to jump aboard Sony's other two systems. Though this should not stop Sony from announcing the final build of the Playstation 2 hardware for retail purposes and encourage potential Wii buyers to jump aboard Sony's ship instead, just in time for such releases as Yakuza 2 and Perona 4.

3. Enhance the image of the Playstation Network

Pushing the PSN in its totality is a must. With a possible announcement of a music and video download service, and with the imminent release of firmware 2.4, Sony will be catching up to Microsoft in terms of extras features which their console supports. But games are where Sony will truly enhance the PSN, with HOME being a easy bet to appear. Home is become a laughingstock of the gaming community, with the countless praise by Sony only turning into countless delays. It is obvious that fine tuning has been taking place with the recently reveals 'Media and Events' room not in the original proceedings of Home, but it really cannot not afford anymore negative news. Though in a more positive manner, the PSN will be seeing the releases of Wipeout HD, PixelJunk Eden, SIREN: Blood Curse, Socom: Confrontation, the soon to be announced Or2 (or is ir Orz?), and the intriguing LittleBigPlanet, all highlighting the further potential of the PSN platform. But besides the confirmed releases, the world still awaits more information on all projects by David Jaffe, the first being a Twisted Metal title. Nobi Nobi Boy by Keita Takahashi, of Katamari Damacy fame, could prove a hit, with the mysterious Linger In Shadows, sounding similar in design to Sony's Echochrome, adding a new type of game to Sony's repertoire of genre types. And this does not even begin to touch upon the possible title of Ratchet: Quest for Booty (which could be mere DLC), and as well the apparent Team ICO title that is heading to the PSN. Another major boost will be getting the release of many Playstation classics ready, and the rumoured enhanced port of Final Fantasy 7 will truly be a shocker.

4. Bring out the big software for the Playstation 3
The disc-based region for the remainder of the year does fare quite well. Afrika could get a potential release, though recent news states otherwise, and Buzz! Quiz TV attracts the increasingly popular casual market, with Valkyria Chronicles being an interesting exclusive along with Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm to appeal to anime fans. Yet these titles are far too niche, and the big titles of Resistance 2, MotorStorm: Pacific Rift, and the eventual PS3 release of Bioshock, might not pick up the pace of the Playstation 3, as the lineup is not entirely dominating. The much famed Tekken 6 is a key title, though it might be aging as of late, but Sony really needs is a 2008 release date for White Knight Chronicles, at the very least, and the wishful idea that Final Fantasy XIII gets a 2008 release date. The latter title, a real system seller, would be of tremendous help to the notion of 2008 being the year of the Playstation 3.

Thankfully, new key titles can help improve the remainder of 2008 and 2009. Both Insomniac and Team ICO have big-budget titles on the way. After Resistance 2, work on a sequel to Tools of Destruction will be in full sway, with Team ICO's title being hotly anticipated. Naughty Dog are another company who has had great success with Sony over the years, and with a rumoured new Jax and Daxter title on the way: The Lost Frontier. What can be expected is a possible Uncharted 2, but this will obviously depend on how far into production the game is currently. Other important sequels which should get a place in Sony's conference are Killzone 2, Gran Turismo 5 (usually a system seller), Yakuza 3, and God of War 3, which is perhaps one of the most anticipated titles at the moment. Sony do have a new Socom in development but with their multiplayer-only Socom: Confrontation not even released yet, its doubtful that Sony would jeopardize this title, and therefore show a new Socom possibly early next year. It should be expected that SOE's The Agency will appear in some form, and even possibly their DC Universe MMO. NCsoft could have a title shown, even four, as their exclusive deal with Sony was much publicized. Two unique titles which could possibly be Playstation 3 exclusives is the Guilty Gear successor, BlazBlue, which could help entice 2D fighting fans, and the Suda51 project, Kurayami. While its not entirely known if BlazBlue will be an exclusive title, Kurayami was last seen to be having publisher issues. Rockstar's L.A Noire is another title which appears to be wavering as far as being an exclusive goes, but by information so far, it is a playstation 3 exclusive. There has also been talk of a possible Zone of the Enders sequel, even going as far as being declared a Playstation 3 exclusive. Though there are three definite exclusives titles which really look intriguing from the limited showcasing they have received. The first is inFamous with its Phil Harrison looking protagonist, being developed by Suckerpunch, responsible for Sly Cooper (I wonder if a new title could be in the works as well), and seems like a nice mix of Grand Theft Auto and the television series Heroes. The second is Wardevil, one of the first HD-generation games ever announced. Initially a multiplatform title, it went Playstation 3 exclusive. Another amazing exclusive is Heavy Rain, which not only has the potential to further the experience of Fahrenheit, a former Quantic Dream title, but also be a showcase for the Playstation 3's hardware capabilities. However there are three more titles, which beyond some scans, have yet to get any real showcasing. Apparently being developed by the Sony Namco initiative known as Cellius, the three titles are Brave Arms, Chain Limit and Second: Season 01. All three make use of an advanced QTE system, but as the main game play element. Its possible that the long absence of these titles was so as to develop a more practical game play system, while incorporating the new QTE system. Lastly, there were rumblings of an unannounced exclusive in the works. Ranging from Heavy Rain to a title know as Tears of Blood, it appears that Sony might in fact have two new exclusives by which the gaming public is unknown about (that is if Tears of Blood or Heavy Rain are not the title). Though this is strictly unconfirmed in every possible way , though Vanssa Morgan, new editor for OPM Australia, did briefly mention two unannounced titles for the Playstation 3 which were huge. This doesn't even begin to make mention that Red Dead Revolver 2 could be an exclusive, a console Syphon Filter, and the Biochock port for later this year.

5. Make the Playstation Portable important again
Sony will need to attempt to prove that the Playstation Portable is not dying out, with the new iPhone being a potential threat. LocoRoco 2 will easily make an appearance after it's confirmed release, and highlighting Bleach: Soul Carnival, Dissidia: Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep would be expected (especially for the latter if Sony wants to gain a Kingdom Hearts 3 exclusive). Recent articles on both Ubisoft and Crytek could bring new life to the handheld, though its disheartening that their is not much to talk about software wise for the system. Even the expected handful of PSN titles, after Beats, could help strengthen the Playstation Portable's position, with two rumoured titles being LittleBigPlanet and Call All Cars. Yet any surprise information on the canned/ vaporware titles of Gran Tursimo: Mobile, Resident Evil, Devil May Cry, Earthworm Jim, Gekido 2, Heartland and Oblivion would be of much use to Sony, amongst new unannounced titles.
With Monster Hunter Portable 2nd G selling so strongly in Japan, it would be wrong of Sony not to make an announcement of an English release. It revitalized sales in Japan and, with other good quality software, could do the same in other territories.

6. Highlight hardware specials
Beyond software, Sony are possibly developing something big hardware wise. Before that, I think it's viable that Sony could announce a new Eyetoy title. While Eyedentify seems to have gone into gaming limbo, a new title to help promote the new Eyetoy, or even a new Eyetoy Kinetic title could be in the works so as to challenge Wiifit (though it must be said that Sony did it first). There are rumblings of a new Playstation 3 controller, two in fact. The first talks of a controller which breaks apart and can form new controller types, and another which is similar to the wii-mote. I talked a little about this in a previous short article: New rumoured Sony controller not so new?. Regardless of which is correct or not, a new controller could provide a new angle for Sony to play upon in regards to their console. However, bringing to light the release of the Dualshock 3 in Europe is vital, regardless of whether a new controller is shown, but I did discover when this could possibly be: Dual Shock 3 EU release in end July?. If both the Dual Shock PAL release and the new controller make the conference, Sony will need to to make sure not to alienate the Dual Shock 3's capabilities. E3 will be a great oppurtunity to discuss Play TV, and attempt to show what other features the Playstation 3 and Playstation Portable will be capable of.

1 comment:

Joseph Menees said...

nice article. Very well written.