E3 of 2012 proved a few things to me, the foremost of which being that the show is becoming less and less relevant for those actually involved in the gaming community. We learnt very little that we didn’t already know, and even then, most of that information wasn’t worth the time it took to listen to it. Sony’s conference, however, was the most telling of the big three, providing an insight into the PlayStation recipe: a pinch of greatness, a smattering of ‘why didn’t you do this before,’ and handfuls of idiotic abandon.
Wonderbook: Augmented Reality at its most counter-intuitive. Like you’ll see in the video below, Wonderbook is an AR tool; a blank book that conjures up images on your television screen showing you interacting with stories in certain ways. And it’s stupid.
For the life of me, I don’t understand why this thing exists, or who exactly is going to buy it. I heard someone argue that Sony would be crazy to ignore the kiddy market, but was Wonderbook really the product that everyone has been looking for? Wonderbook was advertised on the day as a ‘interactive story’, an ironic statement considering we already have those, and they’re called video games. Not only that, but Sony, having announced only recently that the majority of their players were older and more mature than the demographics for both the 360 and the Wii, seem to have finally located their core market before ignoring them completely.
When they announced JK Rowling’s direct involvement with the Wonderbook (a billion times), you could almost hear the howling of every deranged Harry Potter fan in the world. Hopefully they won’t find the demo of the game as tedious as I did. Watching a middle-aged woman turning pages, moving her ‘wand’ (the Move) in certain ways to perform different spells, doing a little task with the new spells she learned, was enough to put an unimaginative potato into a coma. I’m a fan of augmented reality; it really is a great step between non-physical interaction with games and virtual reality. But when you have a book on your lap and all the augmented reality is happening on the television in front of you, I struggle to see the difference between that and a regular video game.
Other stupid things include Sony’s name change from PlayStation Suite to PlayStation Mobile (furthering Sony’s attempt to capture a market that has no need or desire for them to be involved in any way), and the absence of a Vita price drop. Me and the other three guys that bought it would like some company, eventually.
The Why Didn’t You Do This Before
Announcing the future compatibility between the Vita and PSOne games as anything other than an apology seemed out of place for the lagging handheld, yet Jack Tretton’s proclamation carried with it the air of someone bestowing gifts, leaving the Vita community wondering why this was worthy of an E3 reveal. Looking past the fact that this should have been available day one, or at least before now, Sony announced only two exclusive Vita games (CoD Black Ops: Declassified and AC: Liberation), completely leaving out the third (Soul Sacrifice). It’s worrying to think that a device that was supposed to be receiving the attention its predecessor didn’t is having to use games from two generations prior as a gap-fill in between a meager amount of exclusives.
Pure Unadulterated Brilliance
PlayStation Plus: If you own a PlayStation, now is the time to get Playstation Plus. I already liked the service because I live for cheap games, and I already loved the service because the best games I ever played were available heavily discounted or free on the PSN Plus service. Offering Cloud saves, the ability for your console to turn itself on to sync your trophies and download updates, and now game upon game upon game, I cannot express how good this deal is. I know what you’re thinking, ‘Mark, you’re like the best and handsomest gaming journo that ever lived, surely you get all this stuff for free!’ You’d think so, and you’re definitely nearly right, but playing games and writing about them means you miss out on the games that you didn’t want to write about yet still play, and now I have the opportunity to do so, for the cost of sweet FA.
If Sony have lagged on anything in this generation of consoles, it has been services. The PS3 isn’t a home entertainment unit like the Xbox 360, and it doesn’t have the necessary functions to make playing and talking with your friends easy. But the new PlayStation Plus system shows that Sony understands that the services that are truly valuable to hardcore gamers is the chance to get more titles for less.
Finally, the best part of the Sony conference, and of the entirety of E3, was the showing of Beyond: Two Souls and The Last of Us, two games that won’t sell nearly as well as the next Gears of War or Halo, but will be infinitely better experiences. How can I say this with such confidence? Well, first, watch the footage:
Secondly, check out the upcoming articles on Dusty Cartridge that outline how much and why we loved Beyond: Two Souls and The Last of Us.
So what did you guys think about the Sony conference? Awful? Awesome? Have I missed anything particularly compelling? Let us know in the comments below!