E3 2008: Sony Press Conference Highlights

Wednesday 16th July 2008, 11:12:00 PM, written by Carl Bender

Sony rounded out the manufacturer press conferences at E3 yesterday, surprising the public with a new Playstation 3 SKU and the launch of its video service.

The new SKU, set to replace the current baseline 40GB model when it releases in September, will feature an expanded 80GB hard drive and a DualShock 3 controller; pricing for the unit will be set at the same $399 price point as the model it is replacing. 

For its part, the 40GB model has already been discontinued, with Sony saying it will allow the retail channel to clear out over the next several weeks/months to make way for the new system.  As the stock of MGS4 retail bundles itself runs down, this will return Sony to the single-SKU environment it had for a brief period prior to the release of the MGS bundle.  This will also return Sony to an environment in which no shipping unit features the ability to support PS2 backwards-compatibility, as the new 80GB makes use of the more modern PS3 motherboard and silicon revisions of the 40GB unit, rather than the legacy components of the MGS4 80GB system.

Central to Sony's plans for the PS3, the highly anticipated Playstation video store was launched yesterday evening in Sony's bid to increase the Playstation 3's credentials as a central media hub.  Accessible through the Playstation Store, pricing is set at $1.99 - $3.99 for standard definition rentals, $5.99 for HD rentals, and $9.99 - $14.99 for standard definition purchases (high definition purchases are not currently available). Content rented through the service becomes unwatchable 24 hours after first viewing, but users are permitted up to 14 days after download for that viewing to occur. Offering roughly 300 movie titles and 1,200 television episodes at launch, Sony is promising that new updates to content will take place weekly.

Furthering the appeal of the store, purchased/rented videos are able to be transferred to a registered PSP through either a PC or Playstation 3.  Additionally, for owners that have the necessary cables, the PSP-2000 permits video to be displayed on televisions through its video out.  Larger memory sticks are required to make practical use of the service, however, as movie files come in at near 2GB of data.

In discussing their games, 2008 headliners Resistance 2 and Little Big Planet were given the most airtime, reflecting their place at the top of Sony's slate of exclusives for the year.  Playstation Network games received a fair bit of airtime as well though, with new titles revealed including a sequel/interlude to last years Ratchet and Clank release. Entitled Ratchet and Clank: Quest for Booty, this Insomniac developed title will bring a (relatively) lengthy PSN platforming experience to the console when it debuts later this summer. Other games shown included new PixelJunk effort PixelJunk Eden, side-scrolling physics based brawler Rag Doll Kung-Fu: Fists of Plastic, and Fat Princess, a multiplayer tactical hack-n-slash with a deceiving name.

From the world of MMORPGs Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) was on hand to demonstrate DC Universe Online, an upcoming release for both PC and Playstation 3.  Within this virtual existence, players will be allowed to create either a superhero or a supervillain to fight alongside (or against) the likes of Batman, Superman, and their notorious adversaries.  MMORPGs such as the modern/spy-themed The Agency and child-friendly Free Realms were also reiterated to be in progress for the console.

Although God of War III was shown in trailer form to satiate its fans and confirm its status in development, the reveal Sony chose to focus its energies on was a new IP from Zipper Interactive entitled MAG, for Massive Action Game.  An evolution in the genre of online team-based combat games, MAG seeks to expand the scope of online action considerably with its support for up to 256 players per match.  Within this field, individual players are assigned to squads of eight, with the highest ranking player designated as squad leader.  The highest ranking among four squads will in turn be designated as platoon leader, and the highest ranking among the four platoons will be designated as his team's commanding officer.  To establish a sense of purpose within the larger conflict, squads will be assigned missions to complete against the backdrop of the battle, and a class system of sorts will be in place to allow for specialization/personalization.  Although details on the title are still scant, a 2009 release is loosely targeted.

Going beyond the Playstation 3, Playstation Portable had a number of significant game announcements of its own, with Resistance: Retribution and Super Star Dust Portable both high-profile games set to draw upon the popularity of their PS3 predecessors.  Sequels to fan-favorites Loco Roco and Patapon were also announced, as was a release of social game-show title Buzz!.

Also touched upon at the conference was the launch by months end of 'Life with Playstation,' a simulated planet application which will display satellite imagery of the Earth and allow users to navigate the globe in order to find real-time news and weather by geographic location. 

As far as the launch of the upcoming 'Home' virtual world, Sony said only that a public beta would be made available later this year.

Discuss on the forums


± playstation

Related News

Diving into Anti-Aliasing
RWT explores Haswell's eDRAM for graphics
ATI shoots a Bolt through its GPU compute stack
AMD releases CodeXL 1.0
Travelling in Style: Beyond3D's C++ AMP contest
Analysis of Ivy Bridge Graphics Architecture at RWT
RWT analyzes Kepler's architecture
Nvidia 680 GTX (Kepler) Released
Microsoft Releases C++ AMP Open Specification
Nvidia's 2x Guaranteed Program