Gamescom: Sony Conference features new UI, indies, price drops, release date, and a lot of games

Date Posted Author
21st August 2013 Richard Pilot

It's great to see Gamescom grab more and more of the limelight as it continues to grow. As the biggest consumer facing games show in the world, companies big and small are beginning to give the show more attention. Like its more recognisable cousin E3, Gamescom seems to be attracting more publishers and studios to hold their own conferences at the start of the show. Sony has been a Gamescom regular, last year announcing new titles such as Tearaway, Rain and The Puppeteer as well as new services such as PlayStation Mobile and Cross Buy. This year was no different and high off the buzz from E3, Sony were keen to pull off an impressive show.

Kicking off the event was a more subdued SCE WWS Head Shuhei Yoshida, relaxing on an armchair on stage and more importantly, showing off the PlayStation 4 user interface. It seemed to be a more socially integrated system, which still sported the XMB which could be called in from the top of the screen.

Sony covered PlayStation 3 first, talking about Gran Turismo 6, finally giving it a release date of the 6th of December; the GT movie was mentioned although nothing was actually shown. A free to play LittleBigPlanet title was also announced, coming to PlayStation 3 later this year (no mention of a PS4 release).

Sony reiterated its commitment to the indie community and they did so in style. A segment, lead by Senior Business Development Manager Shahid Ahmad, revealed a huge list of games from popular indie developers coming to PlayStation systems. Rogue Legacy, The Binding of Issac: Rebirth, N++, Volume, and Hotline Miami 2 are all coming to PlayStation. The reaction from the crowd was great and after every game was the word 'exclusive' as all games would arrive on either Vita or PlayStation 4 and in some cases both. Sony showed how they were doubling down on indie in a big way.

The Vita even got a look-in too, with its indie support from the above games as well as new titles; Murasaki Baby, where you have to guide a cute little character around a sinister world and Big Fest, a tycoon genre game where you manage a music festival, picking the headliners and setting up the stages. The Vita isn't just for indies, though and some bigger games were mentioned too like Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate and a portable version of Borderlands 2. The Vita will also get a price drop to about £150 and more importantly, Sony made a commitment to reducing the price of its memory cards, good news to existing Vita owners. Also seeing a price drop was the PS3 itself, going down to the same roughly £150 mark in the UK.

A huge bunch of other games were announced too! From The Chinese Room (the team behind Dear Esther) came the mysterious game Everybody's Gone To The Rapture. Also announced was, cel shaded third person adventure/exploration game, Rime. Action game HellDivers from the team behind the indie PC hit, Magika. Arcade action Resogun from the Housemarque studio and finally a remake of Amiga sidescroller, Shadow of the Beast.

Moving away from games, Sony continued to bolster their services for the existing and upcoming consoles, announcing a partnership with Twitch to bring their streams to the consoles as well as strategic partnerships with popular ISPs such as Virgin Media or Orange to bring gaming specific internet packages with dedicated bandwidth in the pipe for gaming services.

PlayStation Plus was bolstered with the addition of Assassin's Creed 3 to the Instant Game Collection in the near future. For future PS4 owners, Sony declared that newly announced PS4 game Resogun will be available in the first month of PlayStation Plus. Additionally, every PS4 will have a 14 day PS+ trial.

In what has become a feature for press conferences, there was a dedicated Ubisoft portion of the proceedings. Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag was shown, in particular demonstrating the PS4 Remote Play feature, allowing the player to take the game to the Vita. A partnership between Ubisoft and Sony Pictures was announced with the intention of producing a film based on upcoming game Watch Dogs. The game itself wasn't left out though and similar to past deals for the Assassin's Creed franchise, the PS3/PS4 versions of Watch Dogs will come with exclusive mission content.

PlayStation 4 news was left to the tail of the conference, with a trailer for MMO game War Thunder which is similar to the 'World of ...' franchise from WarGaming.net, featuring air, sea and land combat. Sony announced Minecraft for PlayStation 4, a launch exclusive (which means it hits PS4 first). Whilst a no-brainer for Mojang, it's a little strange to see both Sony and Microsoft get tongue tied around the word exclusive. In other news, in order to ease transition to the next gen, Sony announced that four games - Watch Dogs, Assassins Creed IV, Call of Duty: Ghosts and Battlefield 4 - would be available on next-gen to those who had already purchased on PS3 at a "significantly discounted price". Also EyeToy esque game The Playroom would be preinstalled on every PlayStation 4 (shame you need to buy the camera to play it...). There was a new trailer for Infamous: Second Son as well as new multiplayer footage for Killzone: Shadow Fall showing off the ability for players to create their own multiplayer modes, which would get ranked and rated by the dev team and community, dubbed 'warzones'.

Wrapping the whole event up was two big pieces of news. Firstly, worldwide pre-orders for the PS4 had reached over an impressive 1 million and more importantly, a release date was announced. The PlayStation 4 will land 15th November in the US and 29th November in Europe and Latin/South America.

Thus ended an impressive conference. A big statement of support for indie games on PlayStation 4, some interesting deals to incentivise the purchase of next-gen and finally a date for when you'll be able to get your hands on the console. Good stuff!

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