Friday, 3 October 2008

Sony at Tokyo Game Show 2008

With the Tokyo Game Show just around the corner, and Nintendo holding a rather impressive conference of their own, all eyes are on Sony: will the PS3 be able to build upon an impressive foundation of upcoming titles? Will Sony be able to answer Nintendo's DS revision, the DSi?

Playstation 3:
If E3 and the Gamers Convention proved one thing, it is that Sony are trying their best to put the PS3 as the console choice for gamers. With some excellent showcases, TGS is the final major convention stop for all companies and Sony will want to end the year with a bang. Though Japan has become a touchy issue for Sony as of late: they lack JRPG's to entice the majority of the Japanese market, and the PS3 has recently been outsold by the Xbox360 in the region for a few weeks straight, due in turn to JRPG releases. Simply put, TGS 2008 will require Sony to showcase a few RPG titles. Now Sony has 11 playable unannounced titles for TGS. How many of these are actual new games, and merely known games receiving their first Japanese release and showcasing, is unknown, though the former is perhaps more desired.

Famitsu has had some information on new titles and in doing so, have probably unveiled some of these announcements for TGS. One title which is bound to get some attention is Demon's Souls, mainly because its an RPG. It seems like a grat synthesis of King's Field, Oblivion and Shadow of the Colossus. Awesome! Though this title is from the same team who created the average Enchanted Arms. Not so Awesome! Another two of the titles come from IREM and Konami. IREM have Spelunker HD (what ever happened to Steambot Chronicles 2?) and Konami's title seem more or likely to be Zone of the Enders 3... or Coded Arms has resurfaced from cancellation (better then nothing I suppose). Either way, whether Demon's Souls and Spelunker HD are part of the unannounced titles, it is difficult to tell, but it leaves Sony with merely nine unknown titles (or eight if you count a possible ZOE3).

Team ICO is bound to break the silence and showcase their new title, and it very much one of the more anticipated moments of the show. This leaves seven titles remaining, but it must be said that these titles will most likely come from Japanese developers. The reason for this is simple: E3 showed off American developed titles, such as God of War 3 and MAG, and the Gamers Convention showed off European developed titles such as the new Singstar's. There is a possibility that the three Cellius projects: Brace Arms, Chain Limit and Second: Season 01 are shown. The apparnetly online-only Tears of Blood could finally be showcased, along with Kurayami from Suda 51 (though this title could be published by EA leaving it as multi platform). If these is the case, that leaves two titles.

There is bound to be a PSN title, but where are the JRPG's? One can only fathom that Sony will do what Nintendo have done at their recent conference and resurrect a sequel to an older IP, the most notable for Sony in the JRPG genre being The Legend of Dragoon. This title is perhaps the most required from Sony as it would show their commitment to the JRPG genre and even allow other developers to follow.

It is difficult to really predict what will be shown because of the flux of titles that were announced for the PS3 but have since fallen off the radar. Whatever the case, Sony has to prove not only that it has the software to compete with Nintendo's recent announcements, but also that it is not going to abandon the RPG scene.

Playstation Portable:
Nintendo's DSi proves quite valuable to Nintendo's handheld efforts, regardless of whether you think its viable for them to release a new revision or not. However there are many moves Sony can make to counteract the euphoria around Nintendo's announcement. Firstly, the DSi is going to debut at 18,900 yen, which is merely 900 yen cheaper then the PSP-3000's debut price of 19,800. With a difference of around $8.5, Sony is now more competitively priced to its rival. While its unlikely, Sony could easily announce at TGS a new price for their handheld, being equated to the DSi. If this were to occur, sales will merely rely upon hardware and software alone, mainly the latter.

The video game representation for both handhelds are pretty impressive, with Sony being most fortunate for a sudden proliferation in third party support from Japanese developers. While it will be key for them to outline many titles, especially the likes of LocoRoco 2 and Patapon 2, and other key titles such as the Final Fantasy's from Square Enix, what could work more in Sony's favour would be to outline upcoming firmware updates. With the DSi, Nintendo has created a more media capable handheld, and Sony could capitalize upon this by showing off software for the PSP's OS.

Much has been expressed about the PSP gaining the addition of direct PSN access. This is of much help to PSP users allowing them to cu the middleman of a PS3 or PC to get content for their PSP. This also highlights Sony's stance for downloadable content for the PSP, however one aspect of Sony's overall strategy is still missing: the numerous downloadable PSP-exclusive PSN titles. Beats was the first, and Sony promised more titles, with a FPS, action and rhythm titles coming. If Sony can demonstrate this feature while showing at least of of these titles (if they even still exist), then the DSi's virtual console support becomes undercut a little, though it is still an important factor of the DSi.

Other features will be important to outline: a PSN ID, friends list and trophy support. These three don't counteract anything about the Dsi, but it gives the PSP a lot more functionality, albeit somewhat trivial in helping hardware sales. Though what could be key in challenging the DSi's new found media capabilities, would be for Sony to prove the rumours of wmv. and avi. support. Such a feature will allow the PSP to be a rather hefty piece of equipment, and the price tag would seem even more justifiable.

The overall point would be for Sony to make the PSP-3000 seem far more important to customers than Nintendo's Dsi. They might not be able to stop what could be amazing DSi sales, but they can easily create doubt in the mind of consumers. And with what looks like hefty support from Japanese develpers, Sony could easily see another PSP boon in Japan for a while, which is required in order to help their market prospects elsewhere.


Farzan said...

Good post mate, Im very curious to see what Sony has planned for TGS. I know they have like 10 games that are still to be announced. Heres hoping those games if shown arent CGI trailers like they did at E3. Microsoft has outsold Sony's PS3 three weeks in a row now. Sony really needs to wake up and pump some JRPG's for Japan fast. They cant just wait for FF13 to save the day. Im also curious to see what Microsoft has planning at TGS. Their showing last year was really impressive and I heard Star Ocean 4 is going to be playable this year at their booth. Were going to have to wait for TGS to see the whole thing. Cant wait for TGS.

CruizD said...

Pity not many new titles were actually shown, though Spelunker HD, Gomibako, Quantam Theory and Demon's Souls are better then nothing.