E3 2009: QuickPeek Special Edition - Sony last year
No, no, no. Don't be confused by the "QuickPeek" in the title. This has got nothing to do with the weekly QuickPeeks we offer you guys. This one's the E3 2009 edition. As in, this is a quick look-back at the things that happened, things that were said, things that would have been better off had it actually occurred -- basically a trip back down memory lane -- on the big 3's E3 2008 experience.
Yes, there were a lot of "major" announcements made on games, some more shocking than others (the biggest thunder-stealer for me would have to be FFXIII on Xbox 360). But we'll have a lot more fun detailing that in next week's issue. For the one we have today, we'll be focusing on the hardware announcements, rumors, and catfights among the industry heads. Drama can't get any more real than that. And then we'll see where we're at now. Come full circle, cos it's time for another E3.
Dear loyal readers, occasional passersby, and resident fanboys and flamers, allow me to officially welcome you all to QJ's E3 2009 coverage.
Okay, now here's how this Special Edition will go. We'll remind you what Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft dished out - corporate / hardware wise - from last year's E3 and link you back to the original article for an actual refresher. And then we look at what they've come up so far this year, running up to E3 2009, the "No Swine Flu Can Stop Us Evar" version. Oink.
Close-up in 3, 2, 1...
With Sony, it's always gotta be big. Always controversial. When news of Square Enix's Final Fantasy XIII going multiplatform stunned the E3 audience (and the people who were tracking the latest E3 developments through the internet), SCEA exec Jack Tretton expressed his disappointment by practically labeling Microsoft as currying favor with third parties and handing out checks like there's no tomorrow just to buy up exclusives.
PSP brand manager John Koller also jumped into the fray with some fighting words of his own. Dismissing the iPhone as something that the DS, not the PSP, needs to worry about, Koller extolled the PSP as the handheld with the best gaming experience available. Of course, the DS has since gone on to sell oodles upon oodles of units, but the PSP's still hanging in there, especially with all the new titles and services Sony is planning for this year.
Link: Microsoft currying favor from third party devs, says disappointed Tretton
Link: Koller says DS, not PSP, should be worrying about iPhone
One such service is a native PSP store, which was one of the big PSP announcements at E3 2008. Given the rise of new media content on the PS3 and, by extension, the PSP, it certainly stands to reason that cutting out the middleman and giving direct access to the PlayStation Store via the PSP would be a good step to foster the handheld's growth.
This feature was eventually added three months later in official firmware 5.00. Sony has even amped up their store offerings lately with digital download-only game releases for Patapon 2 and a number of third-party titles.
PlayStation Home was also one of the big stars at Sony's E3 press conference. Big in that a lot of people were looking forward to finally getting it. While we did see a glimpse of the social service, it was just a developer walkthrough. Not public beta announcement, no demo, no nothing. It would take four more months until version 1.0 would hit. Home's thriving well these days, though, with constant updates and new content, not just from Sony but from third parties as well.
So those two panned out, but what about Jack Tretton's statements about Sony looking into adding a hard drive or internal memory to the PSP? We have nothing to show for this particular tidbit yet, Sony did come through on two of their hardware announcements at E3 2008: new bundles for the PS3 and PSP.
Link: Sony 'looking into' native PSP store
Link: PlayStation Home dev walkthrough video
Two bundles -- one for the PSP and one for the PS3 -- were unveiled at E3 2008 in lieu of a price drop for both consoles. The PSP Entertainment Pack contained a silver slim PSP, a copy of Ratchet and Clank: Size Matters, a 1 GB memory Stick, a voucher for Echochrome, as well as a copy of the movie National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets. All that for US 199.
Those in the market for a PS3, on the other hand, got introduced to a new bundle that had an 80GB PS3 unit for US 399.99. As Tretton put it, it would have "the same functionality of the 40GB... with twice the storage." Yum.
Y'know, if they keep avoiding price cuts with bundles, eventually we'll get a bundle that includes a TV and a Laz-E-Boy. Now that would be sweet.
Link: Sony offers a PSP Entertainment Pack for USD 199
Link: Sony announces US 400 80GB PS3
http://img.qj.net/uploads/articles_m...-gh.png?448336Of course, if you buy a PS3, you're going to want to play games on it -- unless you just bought it because you needed a cheap Blu-ray player or something. For those with gaming on their minds, Sony also announced the PS3 edition of their Greatest Hits line. PS3 titles sold under the Greatest Hits banner were cut down to only US 29.99 a pop.
The cheap price wasn't the only good thing: the roster of games on the Greatest Hits category ranged from the good to the great.
Link: Sony announces low-cost PS3 Greatest Hits games
Strictly speaking, E3 2008 wasn't a huge win for Sony hardware-wise. People clamoring for price cuts had to settle for bundles instead, and while the bundles themselves are quite value-packed, nothing beats a straight-up price reduction sometimes.
Now, the Sony press conference may not have been that flashy, but they did come through on most of the stuff they talked about. Koller mentioned great games for the PSP, and even though it took a while, the titles are definitely starting to roll in. Tretton outlined a PSP-accessible PlayStation Store and we got it.
The one thing that never quite got an official follow-up was the PSP hard drive thing Tretton mentioned. Oh yeah, the mill's been working overtime on this one, cranking out rumor upon rumor of this new PSP and that new PSP, but all we got that was in any way official was the stock "no comment" answer from Sony.
Of course, it's worth noting that Tretton said Sony was "thinking" about it. It's now a year later. Will we find out if Sony's done with the thinking and is ready with actual announcements at E3 2009? Stay tuned.