gamescom 2012: ip push shows sony in no rush for next-gen

As we head toward the end of the current generation of consoles, Sony showed at its gamescom press conference it’s in no hurry to be at the finish line for this cycle of hardware.

At least seven new IPs headlined Sony’s press conference at gamescom in Cologne, Germany last night, four of which announced during the show. Four. Very rare, although something we should prepare to see next year with the arrival of next-gen. While a couple of these IPs were announced at E3 or even before then, Sony went mega huge with new properties in Germany during its showing. And its presentation worked for the better with them.

Whilst one of those new IPs wasn’t for PlayStation 3 itself – I’m referring to Media Molecule’s Tearaway for Vita, which I’ll get to below – the new IPs on display last night’s show will mostly make up a big roadmap by Sony for PS3 for at least the next year or so ahead of an expected PlayStation 4 reveal next June in Los Angeles at E3.

Say what you will about it being Sony’s rip-off of Smash Bros, but PS All Stars Battle Royale was one of the first games announced to use CrossBuy, a concept debuted at the presser where if you were to buy the home console version of a game at retail or digitally, you’ll get the PS Vita version along with it for no extra fee. This has happened before with Motorstorm RC and Sound Shapes, but this is the first time this has been introduced for massive AAA titles.

Whether this’ll give PSASBR a big or small boost will have to be seen, but the whole CrossBuy effort surely will help Sony as a whole. And just imagine, putting Sony’s efforts on this scheme to one side, if third parties leaped on for this. What if EA went for it with Need for Speed: Most Wanted, Ubisoft did this for Assassin’s Creed III/Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation or Activision and Black Ops 2/Black Ops: Declassified?

We’ve known Media Molecule has been working on something new outside of LittleBigPlanet for a year now. It was just a case of when the time would be right for its unveil. Last night was that time. The surprising caveat, however, of Tearaway was that it was for PlayStation Vita, not PlayStation 3. But if anything, going by last night’s debut, bringing it to Vita was a stroke of genius.

MM co-founder Alex Evans said the game was about giving a message to the gamer during the presentation as we were introduced to main character Iota. And the papercraft world that is the game’s centrepiece attraction looks beautiful on Vita and just as charming as LittleBigPlanet. While the response for Tearaway seemed to be a lot more subdued than it was in the Moscone Center during LBP’s reveal at GDC 2007 (though there was a big response when it was announced Media Molecule would be coming on stage), it doesn’t make it any less special than its bigger brother. In fact, if done right, this could even go on to be just as great LittleBigPlanet. Sign me up.

Wonderbook didn’t wow me at E3. It didn’t seem to mostly wow anyone, going by my Twitter. Actually, that’s a lie. It didn’t seem to wow anyone in my demographic (let’s say 18-24, and the demo itself didn’t help). But bubbling under the surface, the potential of it to children was there at E3. The involvement of Harry Potter author JK Rowling was a start.

But in Cologne, Sony aired new announcements for the Studio London project, beginning with the addition of a new story from Moonbot Studios – already mentioned in passing at E3 – called Diggs Nightcrawler (let’s call it the kid friendly LA Noire with a Humpty Dumpty twist). And while the specifics of the relationship wasn’t detailed, Disney was also confirmed as a Wonderbook partner. But it was another aspect of it that could possibly kick start sales: the use of Wonderbook as an education tool. The announcement of BBC’s Walking with Dinosaurs showed this potential very well during its announcement video.

I’m in all likelihood not going to buy Wonderbook (unless that Disney deal involves Winnie The Pooh – in which case, day one), but it came out a lot better in Cologne than its showing at E3. It actually looked a lot more appealing.

Sony Computer Entertainment WWS European boss Michael Denny was then wheeled out to introduce the kicker: three brand new IPs for PlayStation 3. The first being a first-person Move teen horror flick in the woods with a hint of Alan Wake about it – Until Dawn. The title has been doing the news rounds for a good few years, but we had yet to see it until now. It looks alright, but it definitely needs some tinkering due to some rough edges. Still early days yet, though.

But the next two IP reveals were the cherry on top of what was already a good showing: Rain and Puppeteer, both from Japan Studio. I’ve been a big advocate of Sony’s PSN efforts – particularly games like Journey and The Unfinished Swan – and Rain, where you play as an invisible boy where your presence in the world is known through rain, looks set to continue that trend. What a lovely art style too.

But it was Puppeteer that capably brought home the emphasis on brand new properties during the conference. It had charm around it that felt very much like a Sony game from the bat with a charming art style and an interesting premise behind it.

It tells you a lot of Sony’s performance last night that The Last of Us, Naughty Dog’s anticipated new IP, was only the cherry on top on the list of new properties shown. While we’ve known about TLOU for the better part of nearly a year, it was still looked in fine form from the newest trailer (even if most of the footage in it came from the E3 demo). Still no date, but personally speaking, it’s my most wanted game for a reason.

Obviously, established IP helped play a part in last night’s press conference. FIFA 13 for Move, LittleBigPlanet (both a Vita showing and a probably longer than preferred cross controller PS3/Vita demo for LBP2), Call of Duty: Black Ops – Declassified (which wasn’t looking too hot) and Killzone Mercenary for Vita. Not to mention a showing of PlayStation Mobile stuff and the ongoing and improving efforts of PlayStation Plus as a service (as much as I didn’t like it, Red Dead Redemption going free for Plus subs is rather cool).

But it was the new IPs that defined Sony’s performance in Cologne last night. Microsoft just about managed to pan out Xbox 360 in its E3 press conference, while Nintendo is set to go first this year in the next-gen stakes with Wii U. Whether Sony does show PS4 in LA next June is one thing. But as it’s previously said, it’s doesn’t care if it does end up going last next-gen, it’s just about getting it right and being the best of the three platform holders.

For now, Sony got it right last night for PS3 and Vita. Now, onto Tokyo.

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