Sony’s much hyped Playstation Meeting 2013 press conference finally went down yesterday, and as most people predicted, the company finally gave us our first look at the PS4’s controller, games, and unique features. As exciting as the new announcements were, there were a few products and details that everybody was hoping to hear about that unfortunately didn’t make an appearance today: here are the notable no-shows from Sony’s Playstation Meeting 2013.
The PS4 itself:
It’s pretty customary when revealing a new console to, y’know, actually show the console itself, but today Sony showed us the PS4 without actually showing us a physical PS4. We saw its controller, we saw some of its games, and even got a glimpse of the PS4’s revamped UI, but we didn’t actually see the system itself. Maybe finalized console units aren’t done yet, or maybe Sony just wants us all to speculate what the PS4 casing will look like, but whatever the reason, it was strange that Sony didn’t at least have a mock-up or prototype unit on hand to at least give us an idea as to what the PS4 will look like.
Of course, it doesn’t really matter what the console itself looks like: nobody buys a game console solely because it’s a nice looking piece of plastic, we buy them because there’s games and other content we want to play on them, so perhaps Sony was smart in focusing on the PS4’s unique features and games rather than trying to wow everyone with a shiny new box. Then again, actually showing off the system itself would’ve helped to establish the PS4’s look and identity right away: When they first unveiled the Wii U, Nintendo similarly chose to focus on that system’s unique controller and games rather than console itself, and because of that, nowadays there are still casual gamers out there who mistakenly believe that the Wii U is an add-on to the original Wii and not its own standalone console. While I doubt that anyone is going to confuse the PS4 for a PS3 add-on, it still would’ve been nice to have a physical product to associate with all the neat ideas and new games that Sony showed off today.
The Last Guardian
The Last Guardian was supposed to be one of the PS3’s “killer apps,” but it’s starting to look like the spiritual successor to titles like Ico and Shadow of the Colossus may not come out on the PS3 at all. It’s been 4 years since the game was first announced, and it’s been about 2 years since we’ve seen any new gameplay footage or screenshots from the game.
The Last Guardian has had a troubled development history: the game has been delayed multiple times over the span of this generation, and several key members of its staff, including its director, Fumito Ueda, quit Sony while the game was in development. Ueda has remained on the project as an outside contractor, and while he recently posted a message online reassuring everyone that the game was still in development, a lot of people have begun to question whether the game is still being made for the aging PS3, or if Sony has decided to rework it as a PS4 title, which could mean even further delays for the project.
I think it’s safe to say at this point that if Sony doesn’t announce a final release date for The Last Guardian on PS3 by this year’s E3, then it’s probably wise to assume that they’ve either cancelled the game outright or they’re moving development over to the PS4. Speaking of which…
Final Fantasy Versus XIII
Square-Enix big wig Shinji Hashimoto took the stage at yesterday’s big press conference to announce that his company is producing a new Final Fantasy game. Understandably, most people weren’t surprised; hearing that Square is making a new FF is like hearing that 343 Studios is working on more Halo, or that the Zelda team at Nintendo is *gasp!* working on another Zelda.
Cynicism aside, it’s good to know that we won’t have to wait too long to get our first look at next-gen Final Fantasy, but Square seems to be forgetting that they already have a “new” Final Fantasy in the works for current-gen systems: the oft forgotten Final Fantasy Versus XIII. Have you ever wondered why we haven’t seen a “real” Kingdom Hearts sequel this generation? Well, that’s because the KH Team has been working on Versus XIII for the last seven years, and outside of a few story-based trailers and some vague details about the setting, we still don’t know much about the game other than its cast of morose pretty boys and the fact that Versus XIII is taking a long ass time make.
Despite rumors to the contrary, Square-Enix has repeatedly stated that Versus XIII hasn’t been canned and that development is still proceeding as planned. While Square denies that the game has been cancelled outright, they haven’t refuted the rumors that Versus XIII is being reworked into the PS4’s Final Fantasy XV, which sounds a lot more plausible: after all, Square has sunk years worth of work (and millions of dollars, assumedly,) into Versus XIII, and the whole “Fabula Nova Crystalis” project hasn’t really panned out for them (at least financially,) so turning the last XIII-related game into a brand new Final Fantasy free of XIII’s stigma might be a shrewd move.
As with The Last Guardian, it’ll be safe to assume that if Square doesn’t show something that looks like Versus XIII at E3 this year, then the game has either been cancelled or its assets have been reworked into another game.
Vita price drop for the US and Europe
Sony recently cut the price of the PS Vita in Japan, leading many to believe that they’d give the struggling system a much needed price drop in America and Europe as well. Sony’s press conference came and went without any mention of a price drop, and Sony Entertainment head Shuhei Yoshida confirmed afterwards that Sony currently has no plans to lower the price of the Vita in the US and Europe.
While the announcement that PS4 could stream games to the Vita was indeed exciting, I doubt many people are going to buy a Vita specifically for the purpose of using it like a PS4 peripheral. The Vita needs to two things if it’s going to succeed: 1. new, exclusive games and 2. a deep price cut, and so far, Sony hasn’t given us much hope that any of those things will be coming soon. The Vita’s sales performance thus far has shown us that most people won’t pay more than $200 for a dedicated gaming handheld, and also that people won’t buy a handheld to get ports of games they can get on their PS3. The Vita is a neat piece of hardware with a lot of untapped potential, and here’s hoping Sony stops treating the system like an afterthought and gives it the attention it deserves.