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Sony press conference review: White hot

The reveal of a new 'Glacier White' PS4 punctuated a press conference packed with exclusivity deals

Of course it wasn't going to be like last year. Surely nothing will.

Sony's E3 2013 press conference was an extraordinary alignment of fates that you don't just get to capture on stage every twelve months. You'll be lucky to see a tectonic shift of that magnitude once in a decade.

But despite PlayStation's latest E3 media event not repeating the magic, Sony has nevertheless achieved something spectacular - it now carries a momentum not achieved since the PS2 era.

Here, at Sony's E3 2014 press conference, the corporation continued to surf the wave of triumph that it triggered so dramatically last year. One can see the landscape transforming before us, with the major publishers throwing support behind Sony's top-selling system.

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Activision offered exclusive Destiny content, plus a beta, EA is providing an exclusive Battlefield Hardline beta, Warner Bros revealed exclusive Scarecrow missions for Arkham Knight, while Ubisoft pledged that the PS4 version of Far Cry 4 will exclusively feature drop-in co-op (with the joining participant not needing to own the game).

Crucially, no special treatment has been announced for the Xbox One versions of any of these games.

While Sony flaunted so proudly and unrelentingly the wider industry's support, including Rockstar's next-gen edition of GTA V, SCE's own showcase of PS4 titles was somewhat thin, or at least thinner than hoped.

Noticeable by its absence was The Last Guardian, along with Sony Santa Monica's next God of War, Quantic Dream's new game and Media Molecule's next project.

LittleBigPlanet 3 was the surprise delight, though equally surprising was the revelation that its developer is the UK driving games specialists Sumo Digital. It was a charming demonstration nevertheless, but it's hard to tell whether this and DriveClub can surge software sales come Christmas.

A more unconditional disappointment was the diminished focus on PS Vita, as well as just a fleeting mention of Project Morpheus. How much will it cost? When is it going to be released? Who knows, but here's two more demos.

"[Sony] took stage and told the world: the games industry is back with us now"

It was towards the halfway point of the media event, when the TV show adaptation of Powers was discussed for perhaps a little too long, that it became clear that this was certainly not going to match the dizzying perfection of E3 2013.

But one area in which Sony remained unshakably superior was its indie games catalogue, with a scintillating new No Man's Sky trailer revealed along with confirmation that it'll appear first on PS4.

"First on PS4" was a phrase used throughout the event; applied to promising indie games such as Broforce, Hotline Miami 2 and Abzu.

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Here it was made unequivocally clear - the independent games sector is outright ignoring Microsoft's release date parity clause. Surely this is the last change Phil Spencer has to make before his team moves forwards, or risk missing out on these games entirely.

Third-party exclusive games were also paraded. Suda 51's Let it Die, Paradox Interactive's Magicka 2, and From Software's Bloodborn joined the list. And, as if by magic, Sony revealed that Tim Schafer's team at DoubleFine is rebooting Grim Fandango for PS4.

Such reveals were suggestive of how Sony is handling its industry-leading momentum. Success only appears to have made it more pugnacious.

While Microsoft extended the olive branch at its (also successful) Xbox One media briefing, Sony continued to twist the knife, joking about its camera add-on being an optional buy and declaring some kind of ownership - symbolic or otherwise - over a whole range of major third party titles.

It's hardly surprising. For the last five years Microsoft had been doing the same, and Sony wanted to state clearly how things have changed. On Monday it took stage and told the world: the games industry is back with us now.

Unless Microsoft can conjure a once-in-a-generation tectonic shift of its own, one gets the impression this will be part of the message for several years to come.

Rob Crossley


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