nerd christmas: sony still doesn’t get it

Let’s be honest: you only watched the Sony press conference at E3 because you were hoping they’d give you something else for free.

Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. Instead we got another long, prattling, awkward introduction by SCEA CEO Jack Tretton, prefacing some really lame jokes and what I can only assume was an apology to the developers and customers that supported the PlayStation Network during the ApocalyPS3 of 2011. Though it was introduced in the form of a “You’re welcome,” to the media for giving them something to write about.

I was hoping for something a little more contrite. But I digress.

What worked: Exclusives.

I'm on a boat!

Much like Manny Pacquiao, this news wasn’t the biggest, just the best. Exclusive games are the reason I own all three major consoles; I hate being shut out of what are invariably the best games on each platform. While there seem to be fewer and fewer exclusives each year, these are the games that sell systems. Leading with Uncharted 3 this year was a good move by Sony, as the game looks absolutely phenomenal. Following it up with Resistance 3, another AAA exclusive, didn’t hurt either.

I’ll predict here and now that Uncharted 3 will be the game of the year, beating out L.A. Noire, Skyrim, Modern Warfare 3 and anything else that comes along. The multiplayer numbers won’t be as high as MW3, but with all the improvements and additions Naughty Dog is giving its signature IP, it should be a far more compelling multiplayer experience. If you’ve held off from buying a PS3 for this long, you have 146 days to save up the roughly $360 bucks you’d need for Uncharted 3 and a PS3 ($2.50 a day).

It only does awkward living room gyrations.

What didn’t work: PS Move support for everything, more 3D crap.

When Irrational’s Ken Levine came out and announced the next Bioshock game would feature some kind of support for PlayStation Move, I felt like I did when I first saw Die Another Day: like I’d lost a childhood hero. I find it hard to believe that somebody as smart as Levine would need a Sony executive to make him realize that a game could “incorporate” move technology without making it an integral part of the experience. I just wonder how large Sony’s bribe was.

Seriously, everything has to have Move functionality now? That’s not even the worst of it: Sony announced a ridiculous bundle that comes with a game, some 3D glasses, an HDMI cable, and a Sony-branded 24″ 3D TV, all for 500 Simoleons. You know what else is really small and comes with a feature most people don’t want? A Smart car with an 8-track.

Sounds wholesome enough, I guess.

WTF: PS Vita.

Honestly, who gets paid to name shit in the gaming world? Remember the Virtual Boy, where you felt like you had to register as a sex offender before asking the clerk at Circuit City to sell you one? Vita means life in Italian, I get it. I suppose the Japanese were all chummy with those guys three-quarters of a century ago, and the other alternative would be the Germany-approved “PS Leben.”

I know I’m missing the point here: it’s got what looks to be very nifty touch screen functionality with a rear touch sensor to boot, dual cameras and analog sticks, and all at a surprisingly competitive price point for Sony. It’s just $249 for the basic model, or $299 if you’re a complete idiot and want to pay extra for the 3G AT&T version. Most importantly, it’s got a stellar lineup of games (Uncharted, Bioshock, LittleBigPlanet all confirmed).

I’d still rather wait and see with this one. The PSP never really caught on with developers, and as the owner of a 3DS, I’m not sure Sony showed me enough of the Vita to convince me I need another portable device.

Just your typical gamer.

The verdict: Sony put consumers and third party developers through a lot this year, and they needed a big showing at this year’s E3. While their presentation was typically unhip and Jack Tretton dressed (and talked) like a used car salesman, their exclusive games and PS Vita look promising. They are still lagging behind both Nintendo and Microsoft in the useful implementation of motion controls department, however, and are pushing way too hard on the damned 3D, something I consider to be a DOA technology.

Up next: Nintendo

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