Sony Computer Entertainment
So it's actually affordable. I guess Sony can learn its lesson after all.
That's my most immediate and visceral reaction to Sony's keynote address at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles, delivered last night. Sony's PlayStation Vita, the handheld known until yesterday as the NGP, will retail for a less-than-whopping $249 ($299 if you can't live without 3G network capability).
Sony has a long and bloody history of overpricing their hardware launches (see: PlayStation 3) and speculation had been rampant that Sony wouldn't be able to find a way to price the Vita anywhere near its fiercest rival, Nintendo's 3DS. They're now head to head, which at least means Vita has a chance to give Mario a run for his gold coins.
Of course, whether that actually happens will depend almost entirely on whether Sony can support its new toy, slated to release this holiday season, with games we'll want to play. Much of Sony's parade of game announcements had a distinct "old, but better" bent to it, whether it was word that upgraded versions of the PlayStation Portable God of War games are coming to the PlayStation 3 or the headliners of the Vita's launch lineup.
The latter was jammed with enhanced versions of games we've already seen and played on the PSP -- franchise players like ModNation Racers, LittleBigPlanet and Hot Shots Golf, all with new bells and whistles involving the Vita's rear-touch capability. Being able to play a new and portable Bioshock game is a system-seller as far as I'm concerned, but I've got to wonder if longtime PSP owners are going to be all that jazzed to invest in a newer version of their existing game library. Then again, the industry's been convincing/forcing us to do it for years, so who knows?
The copious amounts -- and I'm talking near full feature-film lengths -- of footage Sony showed from Uncharted 3 make it clear that Sony has every intention of turning Nathan Drake into its very own Master Chief, a system-selling icon starring in a series of games that has no apparent end. Good move. Drake's a lot more likable, and a lot less blood-drenched, than Kratos.
Give props to Sony's Jack Tretton for quietly and directly apologizing for the PSN hack-tastrophe that killed the PS3's online experience for more than a month leading up to E3. This could easily have killed Sony' E3 mojo (especially given that hackers are still merrily pillaging their way through Sony's other unprotected networks). Instead, the apology was a brief and effective example of how Sony could have and should have addressed the situation in the first place. Maybe Anthony Weiner and Newt Gingrich can score a transcript.
Forehead-slaps to Sony's bizarre 3D TV, a goofy gadget that purports to let two players, each wearing 3D goggles, see the action in split screen. Yes, E3 is supposed to be about buzz and innovation, but we haven't even fully embraced generic 3D on our living-room TV screens yet. This one could be a toy in search of a market.