E3 media briefing: Sony goes for the overkill

Posted by Mark Raby

Santa Monica (CA) - Opinion - Sony had something new to say about the PSP, PS3, and Playstation Network, but instead of being blown away by all the stuff that was shown, it felt like a bunch of mildly upgraded content was being shoved down the audience's throat.

Sony's E3 briefing was more like a blind guy throwing a bunch of darts, hoping some will actually hit the board.

Sony really should have taken a page from Nintendo when it comes to portable console redesigns.  The DS Lite caught the attention and acclaim of gamers, causing it to be one of the top sellers of last year's holiday season.  The new PSP, on the other hand, was not met with as much excitement.

The slimmer PSP has got to be the blandest console redesign in video game history.  A front-on view of the lighter handheld looks just like its predecessor.  The video output feature is definitely a great addition to the handheld's functionality, and is almost an incentive for existing PSP customers to buy the new model.  However, a $170 portable device is a tough purchase for people who already paid $250 for essentially the same thing.

As predicted, a huge part of the company's 75-minute event was devoted to Home.  A new addition to the online service gives a fresh set of scenery but not much else.  Home was a gimmick to add some humor to the press briefing, which masked as a reason for Sony to not need to talk a lot about its new features.

In typical Sony fashion, it talked at great length about every little project it could, and many were not newsworthy.  Announcing that NBA Live 08 will have 1080p support, a slight upgrade from the more standard 1080i, is not earth shattering news.  80 new games are in production for the PS3's digital distribution store, but the selection Sony showed make this seem more like a new platform for the current Sony fans and not an attempt to bring in new customers.

Sony even mentioned sales numbers for UMD movies, which have been off of major retail store shelves for months.  Yet, according to Sony their sales went up 30% from last year.

The only "Whoa!" moment came from a product that wasn't even made by Sony. Konami sort of stole the show with a live demo of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots (see the trailer from our point of view). Anticipation is high for the final installment in the series that will be headed by the icon Hideo Kojima.

Sony made a quick note of the success of Blu-ray Disc (BD) movies, and seemed to stress the fact that PS3 games used BD technology more than past years.  Yet, of the 120 BD-based games heading for the PS3 by the end of the year, only 15 are exclusives.

Sony's press briefing leaves gamers with nothing more than the look to the future for games like Unreal Tournament 3, MGS 4, and other unnamed online games Sony won't talk about yet, which is pretty much where things stood before.  And even at that, the audience is pretty constricted.  It seems like Sony doesn't want to move into the casual gaming space, with the force of Nintendo and the casual gaming attempts by Microsoft.