November 17, 2018

Opinion: PlayStation missing E3 2019 is ok

With the news to PlayStation isn't going to E3 next year, it sort of shocked me, PlayStation has been a staple since the beginning and now them citing they are not going to do anything, no booth and no press conference was strange.

My first reaction is clearly they are crazy because there's no reason for anyone to give up what is essentially a weeks’ worth of focus on the company, yes there is a substantial cost behind it for the company, but that can't be the main reason to give up. If we look at 2018's performance there is no reason to think it went well, the press conference flow was horrendous, there were out of place musical segments and their booth was one third joint open space not really be sort of thing you want to have people see. The Last of Us Part 2 looked incredible and Ghost of Tsushima was visually far away the most gorgeous game I saw at E3 last year, but why they changed how they approached the press conference, I don’t know, but I think that is only the beginning of the changes coming to PlayStation.

Looking to Playstation's horizon there's The Last of Us Part 2, Days Gone, Ghost of Tsushima, Death Stranding and I think that's really it, I can't think of anything more, yes we got God of War, we got Spider-Man both incredible games but for 2019 and beyond I can't think of anything else. Recently a lot of the things PlayStation have been showcasing are remasters or ports of the classic titles which is much appreciated, because how many people have skipped over on the Wipeout series because they  never had a PlayStation One, so using the back catalogue to help bolster their line-up and mix it in with the current catalogue is smart. However with PlayStation VR being in the mix I think they've taken a lot of focus away from the PlayStation 4 games and split it, which as Nintendo can tell you that doesn't always work so well.

What are the past few years PlayStation have put incredible focus on the VR and while other VR options have required a heavy investment, the PlayStation system does not and has brought in a lot more attentional users than anything. Recently Astro Bot released and it garnered great attention the new game from FromSoftware is that as well so there's a lot of games that PlayStation VR, I don't know if that's where the focus needs to be. We've see an entry essentially in every major PlayStation IP so far is generation, the problem is PlayStation seem to have developed a pattern for the releases giving the developers way more time than would honestly be beneficial to them, not saying that the time is not well spent, because it's definitely is, it's just a matter of balancing releases as opposed to creative vision. God of War had a very lengthy development cycle but as the first in new series it was expected, the best example of game of didn't require that was Uncharted Lost Legacy, the spin off with the 2 girls using a lot of assets and tech from Uncharted 4, it worked for what they were doing, but one studio can't support PlayStation.

Xbox have had a slow start this generation there's no denying that, but they have been using the tools and leveraging their talent far better than PlayStation, with the Forza series being a perfect example. The engine that powers Motorsport is the same engine powers Horizon and while the games are vastly different, if one develops something cool, other studio can use that. Electronic Arts is the same with the Frostbite engine, the engine is used in the Battlefield series, the Battlefront series, the Need for Speed games and the upcoming Anthem game, it really is one engine to rule then all.  Where it works for them is that each studio has their own specialization, like DICE has incredible first-person knowledge, Bioware has character knowledge and yes they could get to that point where they have everything themselves, but in working together and leveraging their talents, each studio is able to get things up and running sooner. This is something that PlayStation doesn't have that and I think that is one of their anchors around there for a party studios.

Naughty Dog is not too far from a Sony Santa Monica, with the 2 studios are close by and while I can see them helping out, a time or two, I don't see them sharing resources past that. Sharing resources further out with studios like Bend or Sucker Punch is unlikely, because it's never been the PlayStation way, Nintendo is much the same way. PlayStation already announced no PSX this year now they said it was because I didn't have anything to show and I think that's the same issue with E3 2019, rather than offer up a mediocre effort and basically say a we don't have anything all letting you know third parties dominate their booth, this is them stepping back and saying, just wait and see. It's not a slight on the industry, it's not a slight on the fans or a slight on at the ESA who run E3 it's just a matter of the company not having anything to show.

There's no denying PlayStation will show content in 2019, with The Last of Us Part 2 which doesn't have a date is unlikely to release that year and given the success PlayStation of releasing games in the March/April release window with God of War and Uncharted 4, I would be hard pressed to imagine that they give that window up.  In April 2019 Days Gone is set to release so PlayStation clearly believe in that window, given how successful it's been for them and them giving it up would be like Call of Duty moving to an August release, possible, just not probable. The last major release for this year was Spider-Man at the beginning of September and if their next major title is April 2019, that’s a long period of time and as I said before we don't know what's coming post the games of E3 last year.

Ghost of Tsushima looks incredible, you can't watch that footage and not think that, the problem is I don't think the gameplay is where it needed to be for PlayStation and being honest the developers last game, Infamous Second Son didn't set the world on fire. The game itself was fine there's no flaws to it, there was just not enough variation from the past 2 entries in the series and with it being released in the launch window of a new console, it had to elevate itself and it didn't. Between that release, there were talks of Sucker Punch laying off people, so the game that may have been envisioned may not be the one we have now. Plus, with the announcement of Seikro from FromSoftware I think that may have given pause from the higher ups at PlayStation.

We've seen in the past with companies going to E3 and having nothing to show, Nintendo did it a few years ago with the Wii U, they still rocked up to E3 and it was during that time but they said no we're giving up on our live presentations and we're going to roll out a Nintendo direct style video for the show; That worked for them it gave them solid base to rebuild from. They realised what wasn't working for them so they pulled away from the live show and so far, it’s worked. Of course, PlayStation have kicked off their own event, inviting fans and while it has been doing well for them, I can only think that they want to be it doing better. Does this mean PlayStation might move PSX to E3 in 2020, I don't think so, I think we're going to see the events kept separate but it does raise the potential for PlayStation to take a year off and say OK what's work for us in the past and what do we want to do in the future. There's no point in debating about what may work I need a solid baseline first I must like Assassin's Creed did you can't do that if you're annualizing and it worked for them.

PlayStation backing away from E3 for a single year or more, is not going to be the beginning of the end of E3, as there are countless studios that don't attend the main convention but instead book out a hotel room nearby, industry and media from around the world already in town so hobby over hotel for half an hour or standing in a booth half an hour is no different. PlayStation will use this time to look at the company they want to be and what they want to do when talking to the fans and I hope at the end of it they come out stronger but it's not going to be the beginning of the end it's going to be the first page any chapter of what PlayStation is and hopefully it's something the week old can look back on and go I'm glad they kept away for a year because I want to like this PlayStation better.

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