E3 2016: Sony Media Briefing Impressions

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Sony set a high bar for E3 press conferences last year by turning games that had achieved mythical status among fans into actual announcements.

It was always going to be hard to match, let alone top, in 2016. Whether they managed it is debatable but some great information control before the main event made for an amazing showing, ranking this year’s PlayStation press conference among their best.

Let’s ignore the games shown for a moment and talk presentation. E3 press briefings have come a long way since the old days of touting sales numbers, technical prowess, and showing pre-rendered, “target” trailers.

Today, we expect live gameplay demos, third-party publishing partners trotted out to announce exclusivity deals, and developers explaining to the millions watching what makes their games the best experiences possible.

We saw Microsoft give one of these briefings earlier. Heck, even Sony’s “Miracles Happen: E3 2015” was one of those.

What Sony did on Monday night was something else.

It all started with a live orchestra, looking very at home among the classic furnishings of The Shrine Auditorium. Conducted by composer Bear McCreary, they treated us to a dramatic God of War piece that led directly into a live gameplay demo of the next title in the series, for which the orchestra continued to provide accompaniment for.

When I say, “directly,” I mean directly. There wasn’t the usual, “let’s welcome Cory Barlog from Santa Monica Studios to the stage to show us the next installment of the God of War franchise,” intro. He was just there, suddenly, playing the game.

That happened over and over during the night. No game developer intros, no talking about 1080p, 60 frames-per-second, really smart AI, super realistic foliage physics. I don’t even recall the word “exclusively” being uttered – the games were allowed to speak for themselves.

This format was stunning, almost flawless in its ability to entirely mask the fact that this was a business publicity event. The footage, the music, what we were shown, felt like the main event rather than marketing materials for future products.

It felt like a concert.

For the traditionalist, maybe the lack of information was frustrating. During Insomniac’s Spider-man trailer, I needed more information but there was none. I had no idea what was going on with that footage of Resident Evil VII.

That said, I have a hunch the answers to my questions are all coming in the three days of official PlayStation E3 livecasts to come. Sony seems to have grasped what works in the briefing and what’s best left to long-form coverage on the PlayStation Blog or with hands-on demos, as is the case with PlayStation VR games.

They seem to be embracing the way E3 content is now being delivered, not as a two-hour stage show broadcast on Spike TV that press will pull quotes, but as the three-day extravaganza from which the company itself can speak directly to its fans for around 30 hours via its own livestreams.

It’s smart. They can straddle the line and win those ‘Best Press Conference of E3’ awards with a brisk show that never drags and simultaneously gets all the information on their exclusive games and content out to those who crave it.

Keep in mind, this is a hunch. At the time of this writing, I don’t know what they’ll be doing on the PlayStation Livecast. Maybe I’m totally wrong.

So here we are, after a Sony E3 press conference from which there was very little quotable information to pass on to you but somehow featured a ton of surprises all the same.

I can tell you that PlayStation VR now has an exact release date of October 13, 2016 and 50 games will be out between launch and the end of the year.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered will be exclusively available on PS4 30 days early to people who pre-order Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare digitally on the PlayStation Store.

Resident Evil VII will be out January 24, 2017 and a demo is out on PSN right now.

A LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens demo is also available on PSN already.

Rocksteady is working on a PlayStation VR launch title, Batman: Arkham VR.

There are more playable characters in Quantic Dreams’s Detroit: Become Human than just Kara, and the sections featuring hostage negotiator android Conner look intense.

Bend Studios is making a post-apocalyptic zombie game called Days Gone.

Crash Bandicoot is returning in remastered versions of the original trilogy for PlayStation 4.

Insomniac Games is making a Spider-man game and according to the little print at the end of the trailer, it’s being published by Sony Interactive Entertainment.

God of War featured an over-the-shoulder camera and less over-the-top combat. Kratos looks older and is accompanied by a small boy in a clearly Norse mythology-touched setting.

Finally, I can tell you Hideo Kojima made an appearance and showed off real-time footage of his new PlayStation exclusive game Death Stranding, starring Norman Reedus, but at this point you’ve got to ask yourself, “What am I doing reading this summary anymore? I want to see the footage.”

And that’s what you should do, go watch the footage below and here.

Because I’m with PlayStation on this one. The games will do the talking.

 

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