Sony’s E3: making a Move on the third parties

Twisted Metal and Killzone 3 might be the toast of the PlayStation community at present, but Sony’s presser was as much about partnerships as it was home-grown games.

By Edwin Evans-Thirlwell, June 16, 2010


Attendees of this year’s E3 pressers could be forgiven for thinking that the manufacturers had got their scripts mixed up. There was Microsoft, high prince of the marines-and-mohawks brigade, blowing controller-free kisses at the fun-for-all-the-family demographic. There was Nintendo, lifestyle marketing queen, flashing an awful lot of leg in the direction of the long-estranged hardcore. And there, finally, was Sony, once a definite second fiddle in the multiplatform software duet, slobbering all over exclusive content deals like a nymphomaniac after two months in solitary confinement.

It was a conference with a very clear objective: to re-establish PlayStation as the go-to guy in multiplatform gaming. There were first party offerings enough to pip Microsoft to the post, with powerful showings from Killzone 3, LittleBigPlanet 2, Motorstorm: Apocalypse, Gran Turismo 5, InFamous 2 and the rumoured Twisted Metal sequel, but where Sony really put clear light between itself and its arch-rival was in the third party presence.

EA came forward with trouser-tenting special editions for Dead Space 2, featuring a newly HD and Move-compatible copy of Dead Space: Extraction, and Medal of Honor, bundled with PS2 hit Medal of Honor: Frontline. PS3 players of Mafia II, meanwhile, will receive exclusive maps and ‘arcade-style gameplay’.

Ubisoft stepped up with PS3-only content, unspecified as yet, for the much-anticipated semi-sequel Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood. The game’s multiplayer beta will also air solely on PlayStation Network.

Killzone 3 looked the business. Was anyone seriously expecting otherwise?

Killzone 3 looked the business. Was anyone seriously expecting otherwise?

The coup de grace, without doubt, was the appearance of Valve’s Gabe Newell to announce both a PS3 version of Portal 2 and PSN access to Steamworks. Internet reaction to the industry legend’s about-face on Sony hardware has been predictably infantile, but there’s no denying it was a shock to hear the lobotomised tones of GlaDOS amid the deep blue glare of PlayStation iconography.

Move’s role in all this was interesting to behold. The motion-sensitive controller is a two-pronged assault on the competition: it allows Sony to go head-to-head with the Wii, obviously, but it serves also as a means of distinguishing PS3 versions of multiplatform releases from those of Xbox 360 (Microsoft, of course, can do likewise with Kinect). The manufacturer has had a bash at this strategy before with the hurriedly produced Sixaxis, but Move is a far more serious proposition.

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