Sony closed off a long day of press conferences at the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles on Monday with a string of big announcements. Some hit and some missed – here's our take on which was which.
1. Uncharted lives
To the delight of fans, Sony fulfilled expectations with the announcement of the next instalment in its acclaimed PlayStation-exclusive series with Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End. Scheduled for the PlayStation 4 for some time in 2015, the action game will see explorer Nathan Drake saddle up for one more world-trotting adventure.
Developer Naughty Dog is riding high right now, fresh off its highly regarded 2013 zombie thriller The Last of Us – which is being re-released for the PS4 on July 29 – as well as the original Uncharted series. If the short cutscene shown during the press conference is any indication the game will look great, how it will play or how it will differ from previous iterations is the open question.
2. Indie power
Sony spent a good portion of its nearly two-hour presentation talking up independent games, highlighted by No Man’s Sky from new U.K.-based studio Hello Games. The science-fiction game will start each player on their own planet, with each person encouraged to explore the galaxy and find others’ home worlds.
Also coming is Abzu, an underwater adventure from Matt Nava, art director from critically acclaimed indie game Journey. The game will also feature audio from Austin Wintory, whose score for Journey earned him a Grammy nomination.
3. PlayStation Now coming to Canada
After some confusion over whether Sony’s PlayStation Now game streaming service (think of it like a Netflix for video games) would be coming to Canada this year, the answer is now a firm yes. The company confirmed it will be available as an open beta as of July 31, where pricing and rental durations of games will be tested.
As long as they have a controller, gamers won’t even need a PlayStation console to use PS Now: the streaming service will work on some Sony smart TVs later in 2014, or the new $99 PlayStation TV set-top box (an Apple TV-like device, which will also carry Sony’s exclusive streaming TV content, such as the announced adaptation of the comic book Powers into a scripted series).
While the service’s availability is good news, gamers in Canada may want to consider examining the data caps on their home Internet service since streamed games could be huge eaters of bandwidth.
4. Lack of sizzle
Aside from the numerous indie games and the surprise announcement of the cutesy platformer LittleBigPlanet 3 – scheduled for a November release – Sony’s cupboard for 2014 looks pretty bare.
As with 2013, the company is going to have to rely on third-party publishers to sell the PS4 console with their big games. However, with many of those publishers opting to schedule or even delay their big releases till 2015, there doesn’t look to be much for gamers to choose from to fill out this year. On the plus side, if you hate black-plastic consoles you can wait for the white PS4 that will come in the Destiny game bundle.
5. End of Twitch
When news broke a few weeks ago that Google was looking to acquire Twitch – the video streaming site that has become popular for sharing game footage – it sure looked like the writing could be on the wall for the upstart service.
With Sony’s announcement on Monday that PS4 owners will soon be able to directly share their game videos to YouTube, that now looks like a certainty. Twitch may have grown quickly to more than 45 million users by the end of last year, but that’s a drop in the bucket compared to YouTube’s 1 billion users per month. It may very well be impossible to compete with Google’s video giant.