Before I go any further, I am fully aware of the stresses of putting together even just the smallest thing for E3. Putting together a press conference? Good luck to you, you're gonna need all the alcohol in the world.
But for a company that has been doing this for a long time and a company that the past few years have been killing it at E3 - even including E3 2014 when the lull of entertainment and the PlayStation-made TV show Powers were in full swing - and arguably have put on three of the most legendary E3 press conferences of all time this decade (2013, 2015 and 2016), I am genuinely still baffled by how on earth Sony had completely fouled what would have been another home run presentation this year following events overnight, only saved by the actual content of the show.
They had the perfect ingredients. As we'd discover, a decent third-party line-up that would accompany four deep-dives into four big first-party games, including the most anticipated game on its books from its flagship developer. And whilst there would have been a lull inbetween changing locations for one of those games into the rest of the show, it still would have been a salvageable show if things had gone different (I'll get to that below).
Instead, games were shown outside the showcase that would have made sense being in it, a presentation that ended abruptly without warning and to be honest, a sense of hubris not seen in a long time from Sony that really annoyed me and coming off the back of Microsoft's best E3 showing ever.
The Missing Games
When I say missing games, I don't mean games that never appeared before the PlayStation event or won't appear when the showfloor opens this evening UK time. So I'm not talking of the likes of Square's Avengers project or Final Fantasy VII Remake or whatever Rocksteady is doing or other games of the anticipated ilk expected at the show.
What I actually mean are games that were missing from the event itself, but shown before or after or even during the event in streams that would have made sense showing in the presser. Lets touch on some of them.
Dreams - Media Molecule's opus was actually in the event in quite a decent way, showing up before the event started or acting as bumpers inbetween games being shown within the conference hall. And what was shown of it was really good, showing a sort of warm up band inbetween games. But with Sony planning a release for the game this year, a beta planned for before release and some questions still hovering on what Dreams actually is, a more than substantial showing was in need.
And it got it..... after the showcase. Dreams was showcased in greater detail on the official PlayStation post-show and Geoff Keighley's stream after the event with Media Molecule folks demoing the musical aspect to journalists after in a live show at the post-show party. And I can let the last thing pass, it's primarily for journalists (though you could make a case they could have demoed this on stage instead). But I don't get how we didn't see a deep dive of its own similar to the demos on Keighley's show or the PlayStation stream or at least a trailer. Sure, Media Molecule's been streaming the game now and then since its return to the public eye at PSX Weekend last year, but it needed to show itself off in a big way on Sony's biggest stage, E3, beyond just being few second bumpers for inbetween games.
Concrete Genie - Announced at Paris Games Week last October, the sophomore effort from Entwined developer got a run out for the first time since its reveal not at the Showcase, but instead on Keighley's stream. No demo would have been required, but a 90 second trailer would have done the trick here.
Déraciné - This is arguably the biggest miss of them all. A brand new PlayStation VR game from Japan Studio and From Software. From. Software. You know, the team who've made the most iconic and defining RPG series this generation and altered the RPG genre in incredible ways? That same From Software. And this project is headed up by the father of Demon's Souls, Dark Souls and Bloodborne in Hidetaka Miyazaki, who's doing this whilst directing the studio's next big game in Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, coming early next year.
Déraciné is set to launch later this year. And putting aside the fact it's a From game, this is - if I have got this correct - Japan Studio's first game since Gravity Rush 2 early last year. That in itself is worth a look, but between the two studios, who put together one of the generation's most critically acclaimed RPGs with Bloodborne, it's easily worth inclusion into the show.
Except it didn't get a reveal at the show. It was revealed AFTER the show during PlayStation's post-show stream. And that's what annoyed me most of all. Putting aside the fact this consisted of two renown developers, but especially From Software, Sony were announcing games AFTER the show. I mean if you're not gonna put it in the show, surely announce it before the show. I mean it's why you had a week's worth of E3 reveals before the event, right?
Ending with Spider-Man is a subjective thing. You're gonna agree. You're not gonna agree. I fall in the latter, but whatever. And I'll touch upon that below. But after Spider-Man, it went to a montage and...that was it?
It was abrupt. No Shawn Layden to come out and say thank you for coming, goodnight. All that jazz. It just ended. No notice, no farewell, nothing. Done, finished, bye Felicia. And that irked me more than it perhaps should have. Call it common courtesy, I guess.
It was just weird to have it end the way it did and then go to the PlayStation post-show without even so much as a goodnight? Okay, this one is mostly a nitpick. Still, this small thing can be added to the pile for me.
The Alternative Sony press conference
In an effort to keep myself occupied trying to stave off sleep and just out of sheer curiosity, I imagined a different running order for last night. Something that would have fulfilled a lot of the criticism here and help salvage the show even after that post-Last of Us lull when everyone was shifting from the church into the main show area.
This is merely hypotheticals and what can effectively be called fantasy booking, especially considering putting together running orders is a science in itself, but I think things could have been different if it went like this.
This is how I would have run it.
(PS: This is only using the running order for last night and the games shown and revealed post-show, so I'm not slotting in anything shown pre-show at other events as other games that would helped solidify a high standing for the show - your Cyberpunks, your FFVIIs etc etc etc)
(PPS: Here's the actual running order for last night for comparison sake:
- Dreams warmup
- The Last of Us: Part II
- Ghost of Tsushima
- Dreams bumper #1
- Resident Evil 2
- Dreams bumper #2
- Trover Saves the Universe
- Kingdom Hearts III
- Dreams bumper #3
- Death Stranding
- Nioh 2
- Dreams bumper #4
1 - The Last of Us: Part II
Lets indulge Sony here for this. They tried something unique for this and, well, it didn't pan out for those watching the stream at home and delivered a lull that frustrated viewers.
But lets indulge them here considering this is arguably their most anticipated game from their biggest active franchise and from their flagship developer. The Last of Us: Part II kicks it all off in the church setting like it did last night and then after, the press and other folk are ferried off into the main area and thus we get that same lull. But the rest of the show would help salvage any goodwill lost and turn the show mostly around.
2 - Ghost of Tsushima
After everyone is ferried in from the TLOU II area and is in the main area for the rest of the show, we come back to the deep dive from Ghost of Tsushima. Same as we did last night.
3 - Control & 4 - Resident Evil 2 [Trailer 1]
After Ghost, we continue as we did last night: Remedy unveils Control and we see the trailer that we got for the debut of REmake 2. But there's also a caveat too with the latter. But we'll get to that towards the end.
5 - Déraciné
Rather than jump into what was shown afterwards last night, this is where we deviate from the original running order and place Japan Studio/From Software's PSVR game Déraciné. It would have kicked off the PSVR segment of the show. And considering that segment would have been short anyway with the following two games, it'd be a sort of in and out type deal, in case anyone gets too frustrated
6 - Trover Saves the Universe
And here's Justin Roland's PSVR game would have rolled in.
7 - Concrete Genie
I'm using Keighley's segment with developer PixelOpus after the event to demonstrate this, but basically, a 90 second to two minute trailer would have done here.
8 - Kingdom Hearts III
And then you've got your Pirates Kingdom Hearts III trailer. Preferably the NSFW/NSFKids version where Goofy tells abuser Johnny Depp to fuck off and literrally jump into the sea.
9 - Nioh 2
And then here's where you'd get your Nioh 2 trailer.
10 - Spider-Man
Now here's where things go leading up to the end. And is why I wouldn't have had Spider-Man end the show. For a start, in the three E3s its been in since its announcement, its now been the finisher to two E3 press conferences with last year being a gameplay demo itself. And especially when you're coming out in a few months and when you've just had a big blowout of gameplay as part of a GI cover feature, I'd say step aside for another game coming further down the line.
That said, Spider-Man is not a Days Gone situation where you can live without it in your press conference. It's still one of pop culture's biggest IPs and still a game a lot more people are looking forward to. Keep the gameplay demo we got as is, but just in a different slot.
11 - Dreams
I'm using the demo that Alex Evans of Media Molecule demoed on the PlayStation post-show stream last night as a pointer, but keep the presence we got last night - the band tuning up before showtime and being used as bumpers inbetween games - and then add on top either a new trailer or even a deep dive of its own using the music demo Media Molecule demo'ed to journos at the post-show party. Give a timeline beyond just '2018' for its release, give like a season or even month if you're feeling brave.
[OPTIONAL] 12 - Resident Evil 2 [Trailer 2]
Now, this is a sort of optional pick and could honestly fit better within the post-show actually, but hey, give the audience more REmake 2. But the only reason I say this is optional is, besides the fact we've seen the game already (though we did get Days Gone twice a few years ago when that was revealed, albeit at first with a trailer and then gameplay demo at the end of the same press conference), it'd be a dramatic tone change from something like the charming Dreams to something more sinister and Resident Evil 2.
13 - Death Stranding
And this is where we start to wrap up.
Bring Layden back out to say thanks and all that jazz, PlayStation 4 is best place to play yadda yadda and then to close the show, it has one game left from one of the biggest and creative names in the industry. Cue the Death Stranding trailer.
Then maybe bring Kojima on with Lindsay Wagner (She was with him last night on Keighley's stream) to say a few parting words about what we'd seen, Wagner talks about her involvement and then they're gone.
End - Montage
Boom. You're done.
The lull after The Last of Us demo going into the main show would have killed the momentum from the start, but would have easily returned with a show like that, I believe. That would have been a mid-to-high eight or even a low nine scoring presser if went like that.
Oh Sony. It turns out that I started out writing this in the biggest heap of anger ever knowing your pedigree. And now as I finish up writing it, I'm just filled with disappointment. Disappointment that you can, could and should do better than what happened last night. Bring us back to the 2016 and 2017 runnings of the show. That seems like a good way to do it.
Bear that in mind for next year, right?