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E3 2014: Can Sony Stay on Top?

Can they ever hope to beat last year's show? With a resurgent challenge from Microsoft and Nintendo, Sony will need to be at the top of their game.

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Last year was a big deal for Sony. For every decision they botched during the launch and early years of PlayStation 3, last year they got it right with PlayStation 4 and then some. Their efforts with PS3 had the look of over-confidence, such was the success enjoyed by PS2, and they must've thought they had it in the bag.

It's fair to say that while PS3 was no failure, Microsoft edged the last round of the console wars with Xbox 360. Sony are fighting tooth and nail to make sure that doesn't happen again with PS4, and it looks like their energy and vigour is paying dividends. On top of that, seeming complacency and bad business decisions made by the opposition have done nothing but help their cause.

During last year's show Sony's Andrew House stood in front of an elated crowd and, with perfect timing, delivered a knock out blow to Microsoft's early doors battle plan for Xbox One by declaring that Sony would be sticking with the old ways in the face of MS's plan to redefine DRM and the second-hand market. It was the perfect move, a sucker punch, and in one move Sony completely won the hearts and minds of all in attendance and blew away the opposition.

A year has passed since then, but the Microsoft that Sony bested so thoroughly last time around are not the same proposition now. Last year Sony beefed up their lineup with a series of indie game announcements that gave their portfolio a flattering appearance. If you're into indies then Sony's decision to push in that direction will have been a welcome move, but fans of Triple A games were left looking at an anaemic selection of titles, especially when compared to the offerings from over the road.

E3 2014: Can Sony Stay on Top?
Sony will be banking on a positive reception for Driveclub, so expect them to give the racer plenty of time to shine.

Since the launch of the new-gen consoles in November there's been plenty of releases, both large and small scale, as well a selection of free-to-play titles. There's new announcements all the time, and the roster of upcoming games just keeps on swelling, getting fatter. But, what's missing from Sony's arsenal is a juicy selection of exclusive Triple As, and it's here that we can potentially see Microsoft - and even Nintendo - getting traction this year.

The PlayStation 3 continues to sell well for the platform holder, and it doesn't look like the wind will come out of those sails for some time to come, especially with the console still making an impact in so many emerging territories. There's also the PS Vita, which may still be in rude health, but at least isn't on life support like it was last year.

Expectations on Sony are naturally high and we fully expect the focus to be almost exclusively on PlayStation 4 during the press conference. Its predecessor and PS Vita will likely be relegated to brief trailer reels.

Having gotten the delay out of the way prior to E3, The Order: 1886 should still play a major role to play, and we suspect Destiny will also be featured heavily. Given Driveclub will likely be one of Sony's bigger titles this autumn we suspect it will be given ample time on stage. Sony have been courting third-parties, gaining bonus content (likely in exchange for advertising), and we expect this to continue. Perhaps one of Ubisoft's new announcements will follow in the footsteps of Watch Dogs in this regards - if that's the case it could well be featured at the presser.

E3 2014: Can Sony Stay on Top?
The delay to The Order: 1886 will leave a bit hole in Sony's plans for 2014, with Sony needing some Triple A sparkle.

Sony naturally has an edge on Microsoft when it comes to Japanese support, and we expect them to want to revisit games like Kingdom Hearts III and Final Fantasy XV that were premiered at Sony's presser last year. If there's new footage or demos, we think they'll be at Sony's show, even if that is looking unlikely. The next game from Suda51, Lily Bergamo, could also make an appearance. Sony got a lot of goodwill featuring indies prominently at their show last year, and we expect them to try the same trick again this year.

If Naughty Dog are on track for a 2015 release of Uncharted 4, this should be the main attraction during the conference. Possibly rivalled by a new God of War. Given the reception of the HD remaster of The Last of Us, we could see Sony announce a couple more with Gran Turismo 6 and Beyond: Two Souls likely candidates for upgrades. PS4 versions of games like The Unfinished Swan and Journey wouldn't surprise us either. Perhaps we'll see a proper reveal of the new Shadow of the Beast.

Media Molecule have announced they won't show their next game at E3, but we've heard whispers on the grapevine that lead us to believe that something Little Big Planet related will make it to LA. If The Last Guardian steps back into the limelight we expect it will serve as the closing number, but it could also serve as the opening act to kick things off proper. If it shows up (please show up).

PlayStation Now is a bit of a wild card for Sony, and if there's positive news to be conveyed with their streaming initiative we'll no doubt hear about it at E3. Another wild card is Project Morpheus, teased as a prototype back at GDC. Are Sony ready to show off the final consumer hardware and present us with a price and date? Perhaps. But what we'd really like to see are some proper games running on the hardware and a more defined vision.

Key for Sony at this year's E3 is to give the impression that there's a lot of high calibre Triple A content in the pipeline. With the end of this year looking a little spotty due to recent delays they may have to rely on some bigger games due out late in 2015. It's all about riding the momentum and paying attention to what current PS4 owners are looking for.

E3 2014: Can Sony Stay on Top?
We'd love to see something running on Project Morpheus that convinces us Sony are serious about VR.


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