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Breaking: Sony PlayStation 3 Press Conference Coverage

Gamasutra attended the PlayStation 3 press conference as part of Sony Gamer's Day in San Francisco, and reported live from the keynote speeches at the afternoon event - click through for full details. [ALSO: Sony's <a href="http://www.gamasutra.com

Simon Carless, Blogger

October 19, 2006

11 Min Read

1.45pm PST - Assorted press and executives are gathering in the dimly lit South San Francisco venue as a 'sizzle reel' showing various views of the PlayStation 3 hardware and controller plays on the screen. The press conference is scheduled to start at 2pm PST. 1.58pm PST - Starting a little early, with another promotional reel, showing plenty of footage from major launch PS3 titles, including Lair, Assassin's Creed, Madden, Motorstorm, Heavenly Sword, and Resistance, with the tagline 'Play B3yond' integrated majorly into the promo. 2.00pm PST - Kaz Hirai takes the stage, punning on the Linkin Park/Jay-Z song used in the promo: "The only thing left to wait for is November 17th". He explains that they're going to take a look at what's physically in the box, the launch titles, the peripherals, and the downloadable store for PlayStation 3, "as much in live demos as possible". Many of the launch titles will be demonstrated after the presentation. 2.03pm PST - Hirai says the PS3 will "lay the foundation for the next 10 years in digital entertainment", noting that the PS3 is "what we call futureproof". He explains that "everything in the box defines what next-gen entertainment is about", and believes that it will be supported by consumers and developers "even 10 years from now". He confirms that the final boxed PS3 product is coming off the assembly line "as we speak". 2.05pm PST - Hirai explains that more than 10,000 development kits have been shipped to 208 companies in 11 countries to get PlayStation 3 games up and running, and reveals 22 'launch window' titles, including first-party titles Genji, NBA 07, and Resistance: Fall Of Man alongside a host of third-party content - some of the highlights include Call Of Duty 3 Madden 07, Need For Speed: Carbon and more. Hirai ends by referencing Ridge Racer 7, one of these titles, and happily/knowingly yells 'Riiidge Racer', to many guffaws from the crowd. He calls the total of 22 titles in the PS3 'launch window' timeframe "the most robust launch line-up" ever. 2.10pm PST - Hirai hands things over to SCEA co-CEO Jack Tretton, who notes that we are at "the end of a very long road". He comments dryly of the massive initial PS3 demand: "I can promise you that one of the things you will find at retail on November 17 is a crowd." Moving on, he specifically says: "We do not have a stripped-down Core [system]", obviously referencing the Xbox 360's launch configuration. He then confirms HDMI and 20gb HDD for the $499 PS3 version - the only differentiating factors for the $599 version are the 60gb HDD, the 802.11 b/g, and the Memory Stick/Compact Flash slots. 2.14pm PST - The first 500,000 units of PlayStation 3 will get a free copy of the movie Talladega Nights: The Ballad Of Ricky Bobby for Blu-Ray, Tretton reveals. This bombshell is followed by a trailer for the Will Ferrell and Sacha Baron-Cohen movie. 2.17pm PST - The SIXAXIS wireless controller is being discussed - Tretton explains that the controller has a 20m wireless range, will recharge via a cable, has 30 hours per charge, and notes that "the development community is just starting to harness" the power of the controller. Also confirmed is an AC cord, USB mini-cable, Ethernet cable, and multi-AV cable with composite connectors. Tretton notes that there's just an AC cable, not any external form factor-related issues, commenting: "There is no external power source or heavy brick... like some of our competition." 2.19pm PST - The launch first-party game titles from Sony will debut at $59.99. The wireless controller will cost $49.99, a memory card adaptor for the PS2 for $14.99, and a Blu-ray disc remote in December for $24.99. Tretton now discusses 15,000 retail channel demo units being readied, including an HD Bravia monitor, for the PlayStation 3 launch, and the console's software will have "dominant shelf space" in retail. He also noted that game demos, videos, and trailers will be dynamically downloaded to these PS3 retail demo systems, "truly the best way for the consumer to get updates on everything that is going on." 2.22pm PST - Phil Harrison appears on stage, explaining of current PlayStation 3 development: "We have games that are finished, we have games that are in manufacturing." He brings Insomniac's Ted Price on stage to demonstrate Resistance: Fall Of Man, demonstrating a level set in a futuristic Nottingham, England. Price shows the large array of weapons, including a rocket launcher where the projectiles can be paused in midair, and discusses how the multiple projectiles from a bloom-like weapon are being processed simultaneously on the SPEs of the PlayStation 3 - not possible otherwise, he says. He then shows Reapers, independently firing pistols. He ends by discussing the online mode, which features 40 players online at once, "a first for a console launch title." He explains there are buddy lists, communities, clans, and experience levels all available within the game. 2.28pm PST - Harrison returns, and explains that the ratio of disc storage to memory in older and recent consoles, characterizing the Xbox 360 (indirectly) as somewhat deficient in that area, and explaining: "We are way beyond the limitations of the 9 gigabyte DVD." He brings up a demonstration of Genji, much better-looking than it was at E3, to demonstrate the kind of texture detail that the larger Blu-ray storage apparently brings. 2.31pm PST - The Sony Worldwide Studios head is discussing why sports games are particularly suited to HD, and reveals that NBA '07 is "the very first sports game to have 1080p, 60 frames per second action - and that's a launch title." Harrison notes that this is something that "some others didn't think was possible", and a demonstration of NBA '07 is shown on the big screen, indeed showing remarkably high resolutions, and an impressive 'sweat shader' effect. 2.33pm PST - Harrison is talking about the SIXAXIS controller, which he explains as "an extension of your own arms, your own body", and brings Factor 5's Julian Eggebrecht on stage to demonstrate Lair, which he explains is "yet another game running in 1080p, despite it being impossible I hear." He demonstrates the 2007 title, comments of the SIXAXIS: "For years we've been waiting for this", and demonstrates moving the on-screen dragon around using the motion aspects of the controller. He also explains smartly: "We integrate [motion control] where it's really appropriate." He transitions to the ground in the dragon, showing a massive amount of in-game enemies being stomped on by the dragons, before an in-air fight occurs and one of the rival dragons is killed. He explains that the PS3 is "everything you would expect in terms of graphics, sound, but also a new step in terms of controls." 2.38pm PST - Harrison shows the start-up sequence for PlayStation 3, with the sound of an orchestra tuning up, "getting ready for the emotive experience" of the PS3. He notes that multiple users can co-exist on the same PlayStation 3, and there is parental control over users in terms of "content and commerce". The PS3 GUI uses the traditional PSP 'Xross-Media Bar' GUI style, and Harrison firstly shows the photo area, explaining that the PS3 can be "the repository of all your digital photography". He shows a normal slideshow, but then switches to a photo album, rendering the photos in a 3D environment, and allowing the user to move around and click on each to see the picture. Harrison notes "just like PSP... additional functionality will be upgraded over time", suggesting that additional modes may be added via the network. He now shows the music section, where CDs can be played, and MP3s ripped and managed, also showing a 3D visualizer alongside a Beyonce track. Moving on to the video section, an HD trailer for Spider-Man 3 is demonstrated, with Harrison showing the ability to have moving thumbnails of all the footage running in real-time. He then shows a new trailer for the next James Bond movie, Casino Royale, Daniel Craig's first outing as Bond. 2.45pm PST - Showing the network functionality, there's a 'Friends' list which is built into every PlayStation 3 free of charge and standard - the list shows that friends are online, and you can send messages to each other. The friends have icons attached to them, much like Xbox 360. You'll also manage the players that you meet within the list, and ban players within this screen as well. Harrison confirms that the PlayStation 3 will include a web browser free and out of the box - he demonstrates the '1 Minute Version' of the E3 Press Conference video running on YouTube in the browser, to further crowd hilarity ('Riiiidge Racer'), as one of multiple WWW windows. He demonstrates now that you can run the PS3 media bar live on the PlayStation Portable, and the all the media on PS3 can be streamed live from the PS3 to the PlayStation Portable - initially locally, but eventually across the entire world via the Internet. (Presumably, you need to buy the wireless, higher-end PS3 version to do this.) 2.50pm PST - The PlayStation Store is now being demonstrated, and Sony Online Entertainment's John Smedley comes on stage to explain the store - SOE were in charge of the Store. He explains: "Our systems are go for launch", and shows the way that "third parties can plug into this system". He explains that Xfire has been integrated into the SOE launch title Untold Legends, as an example of the 'freedom' that has been given to developers - but developers are not mandated to use Xfire, obviously. The PlayStation Store is shown - it's a bright, shop-like interface, and he explains that PlayStation 3 developers can use this store interface within all their titles. The sections include 'Featured Items, Demos, Downloadable Games'. There are demos of major launch titles, including Resistance and Fl0w shown. In the Downloadable Games section, there are the conventional PS3 downloadable games (such as Blast Factor) shown. There are also legacy PS1 titles, including Warhawk, Syphon Filter, Medievil and others, that will be downloadable using the PS3, playable on the PSP and "a little bit further down the line", on the PlayStation 3 itself - apparently not for launch, though. 2.56pm PST - Smedley is showing the checkout process for downloadable game Blast Factor, explaining microtransactions, and showing that it's easy to check out, buy things, and grab things. You're also allowed to log in to your own account at your friend's house, using his PS3, and download your games to it - up to 5 copies of the game per user (though presumably you can only be logged on in one place at once.) 2.57pm PST - Harrison notes that PS3 downloadable games will cost $14.99 or less, but prices have not been definitively set yet - but will be over the next couple of weeks. Smedley goes on to show the free downloadable movie trailers also available through the service, also pointing out a 'What's New' tab in the top right of the system, as well as a 'Top Downloads' tab, showing the most popular downloads. 2.59pm PST - The Sony execs are showing a Motor Storm downloadable demo, which will be available for free download on November 17th - there will be '4 or 5 demos' available on launch day. They then show a title being designed "from the ground up" for digital distribution - Blast Factor, which was created by 5 people at the Sony Santa Monica Studio/BluePoint Games. Blast Factor looks significantly like XBLA titles such as Geometry Wars and Mutant Storm Reloaded, and is set in petri dish-like levels where you can shoot objects and use the SIXAXIS controller to 'flip' the dish, wiping out enemies with the resulting dynamically molded water waves. Harrison adds that the game has 100 levels and runs in 1080p. 3.05pm PST - David Jaffe is called on stage to show the PS3 downloadable title that he's been working on - he says that "in Santa Monica, we're really getting behind downloadable content" He explains that his multiplayer-centric game, Criminal Crackdown, which is being worked on with Incog and will debut in February or March 2007, is a throwback to the party-game like atmosphere of Bomberman. The game has cute cartoony graphics where everyone is driving a small vehicle around a level, trying to catch a criminal and return him to the jail - Jaffe then demonstrates it, and it seems like a great indie-style title - it even includes 4-player splitscreen and 1080p. 3.09pm PST - Harrison hands back to Hirai, who references "the unparalleled line-up of titles" coming in the launch window, concluding: "We've been keeping our cards very close to our chest on the PlayStation network", but "it's an incredibly robust system". He ends: "We are absolutely committed... in leading the industry into the next digital decade."

About the Author(s)

Simon Carless


Simon Carless is the founder of the GameDiscoverCo agency and creator of the popular GameDiscoverCo game discoverability newsletter. He consults with a number of PC/console publishers and developers, and was previously most known for his role helping to shape the Independent Games Festival and Game Developers Conference for many years.

He is also an investor and advisor to UK indie game publisher No More Robots (Descenders, Hypnospace Outlaw), a previous publisher and editor-in-chief at both Gamasutra and Game Developer magazine, and sits on the board of the Video Game History Foundation.

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