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E3 2013: Sony press conference impressions

E3 2013Sony

In the last few weeks, poor communication and seemingly draconian policies from Microsoft have given Sony a clear advantage in the next-gen PR game. In their press conference yesterday, Sony pushed home that advantage to full effect.

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With Microsoft’s press conference earlier in the day failing to answer concerns or lay out a more coherent reason to buy the Xbox One, it was Sony’s turn to show their cards. And show them they did.

“The biggest cheer of the day”After an an hour and a half of PS3, PS Vita and PS4 games, Sony showed a slide stating that the PS4 will support used games. It was the biggest cheer of the day from the audience, with SCEA CEO Jack Tretton struggling to hold back laughter.

The next slides were the same, going point-by-point through their used-games and DRM policy, Tretton pausing for more cheers after each one. The mood was such that he managed to slip through a negative policy change – PS4 multiplayer will require PS Plus membership – with little reaction. The final blow came with the announcement of the price – $399, €399 or £329 – significantly below the Xbox One.

The only disappointment came in the form of PS4 exclusives, with most of the interesting games scheduled for the PS3 instead. Beyond: Two Souls was the pick of those shown, now scheduled for an October release.

“Hardware reveal was received warmly”Indie games were emphasised too, perhaps due to Microsoft’s continued policy of not allowing developers to self-publish. Eight console debut exclusives were announced, including a new Oddworld title.

The hardware reveal was received warmly, with the PS4 arguably better looking than the Xbox One. Neither console is pushing the boundaries of industrial design, but Sony’s is marginally more aesthetically pleasing.

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Sony now have a clearly differentiated console in several regards. It is less expensive, has no measures to deter game lending or trade-ins, has a less stringent DRM policy and more indie titles. Only in exclusive games and the controller (the left thumbstick is still in the wrong place) are there any weak points.

Consoles take years to build momentum and the PS3 got off to a slow start. This time, Sony have made sure that they will make the quickest start.

The author of this fine article

is the Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in November 2000. Get in touch on Twitter @PhilipMorton.

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