For the prayers
Sony brings fan service by the cartload to PlayStation Experience
Those of you who would like to take something positive from 2016 can look on it as the year in which the convention circuit completed its transformation from industry knees-up to fan-focused hype onslaught. Things had been heading this way for a while, admittedly, but 2016 was the year in which sales graphs were consigned to the bin, where trade shows were pretty much abandoned in favour of fan events, and where stage events were made primarily for the people watching at home, rather than those whooping their lungs out in the room itself.
In that sense PlayStation Experience was a fine way to round out the year, even though it showed the good and bad of this new way of doing business. For one, it seems that focusing on fans means you can take liberties you wouldn’t dream of taking in front of easily distracted businesspeople or the overzealously critical press.
Uncharted 4’ s standalone DLC, The Lost Legacy, opened the show with a stultifyingly overlong demo whose final twist – that the women behind the niqab was conspicuous Uncharted 4 absentee Chloe Frazer – was obvious from the first minute. Her modest middle-eastern garb tried to conceal what was going on, but there’s no mistaking those eyes. Still, the prospect of Frazer buddying up with redeemed Uncharted 4 antagonist Nadine Ross in a part of the world where women are considered to be secondclass citizens is an intriguing one.
As is the prospect of Ellie taking the lead role in The Last Of Us Part II, which took the one-more-thing spot at the close of the stage show. Ellie has spent her downtime since the first game learning a mean guitar, developing a singing voice worthy of a John Lewis ad and, it seems, acquiring a quite brutal bloodlust. While the trailer’s brevity was passed off as a consequence of the game being early in development, it was also intended to be light on detail and heavy on innuendo, the sort of recipe that sends fan communities into a rabidly speculative lather. The Internet duly obliged. The truth will come in time; what Naughty Dog’s bookending of PSX told us immediately is that the studio remains, by a stretch, the jewel in Sony’s crown.
In between it was largely business as usual, a beat-for-beat reprise of last year’s PSX show with the same names filling the same roles, albeit with different games. Once again, our condolences go to Shelby Cox, whose role in developer and publisher relations left her stuck with the gig of reeling off all of Sony’s contractual obligations. Her bit on
Call Of Duty’s esports push went over about as well as you’d expect, which is to say it received approximately one tenth of the volume of applause that greeted footage of the Crash Bandicoot remake. Cox followed up by turning her attention to Japan with nods to Resident
Evil 7, Ace Combat 7 – both PSVRenabled – and Street Fighter V.
Next came Gio Corsi, the thirdparty relations bod who perhaps most closely embodies PS4’s central philosophy, For The Players. In PlayStation-branded hockey shirt and beanie, and with Vita in hand, it looked as if Corsi was cosplaying as himself, the dramatic
It was largely a reprise of last year’s PSX show with the same names filling the same roles
pause before each Vita announcement teetering on the brink of parody. Designed to reassure the fans that Sony hasn’t forgotten about Vita, it acted more as a reminder of the extent to which it
has. Still, Corsi’s announcements came thick and fast, and any sartorial or stylistic quibbles melted away as Corsi confirmed
Ys, Danganronpa, two new Yakuza games, and, from out of nowhere, a new, online-enabled version of cult 1994 Neo Geo sports game Windjammers, plus plenty more besides.
The idea – as evidenced by the above and confirmed by Shuhei Yoshida’s bit on the imminent likes of
The Last Guardian and Gravity Rush 2, and Asad Qizilbash’s meandering slot encompassing VR, baseball and Nioh – was to offer something for everyone, even if that meant just talking about
everything. Sony can, however, be forgiven for a slight lack of focus – indeed, it should be commended for managing to put together a show at all. In the final months of 2016 it manufactured, distributed and marketed three new pieces of hardware, each aimed at a different part of the marketplace. Is there another company in all of videogames that would even dare to try that, let alone pull it off?
There were problems here: Yoshida almost forgetting to mention that PS4 Pro was about more than 4K displays, and a lack of PSVR titles sparking fears that it’s going the way of Vita, when the reality is that VR doesn’t demo well on a big stage. However, these are new problems, born of innovation and risk-taking. PSX might have been for the fans, but industry observers left happy in the knowledge that the market leader has no intention of resting on its laurels.