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Why We Think Sony Bailed on E3 2019

VO: Riccardo Tucci
With Sony not coming to E3 2019, what does that mean for the big Playstation titles like Death Stranding and Last of Us 2? What is the PS5 connection?

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No Sony at E3 2019. What Now!

It’s news that has shocked the gaming industry as a whole. For the first time since the biggest gaming show began back in 1995; Sony will not be present at next year’s E3. Naturally, most fans of Sony have jumped to the conclusion that they’ll be doing their own show instead, and not have attention drawn away from their major titles … except that they do have their own expo in the form of the “Playstation Experience:, which usually takes place in December, and it’s not happening this year either. And thus fanboys have been quickly conclude: “OMG Playstation is dead, Sony has no games left”. NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO!, that isn’t it either. It actually seems like the signs are pointing towards a clear direction: The Playstation 5 is coming.

Let’s put together what we know so far. At E3 this year Sony held a showcase for 4 major titles: “The Last of Us Part 2”, “Ghosts of Tsusima”, “Death Standing” and “Spider-Man” And that last title is already out. The first 3 were undoubtedly impressive, (even if we still don’t know what the hell “Death Stranding” is) However none of those games have set release dates. The only Sony exclusives currently set for 2019 are “Days Gone” and “Dreams” And while they both do look impressive, they don’t really carry the same levels of anticipation that we’ve had for the likes of God of War, Uncharted 4, and even original IP’s like Horizon: Zero Dawn.

We also are starting to see reports of developers already starting work of PS5 titles, with reports that Square Enix is already working on an untitled Next-Gen AAA title, thanks to an artist who accidentally revealed this information on his Linkin. Further elevated by Sony President and CEO Kenichiro Yoshida, stating in an interview with the Financial Times that quote: “At this point, what I can say is it’s necessary to have a next-generation hardware,”

This leads us to an inevitable conclusion: Sony is shifting “The Last of Us 2” and “Ghosts of Tsusima” to be available for the PS5 and it’s easy to see why. The Playstation 4 launched at the end of 2013, and it’s early life was ... to put it bluntly: pretty lackluster. 2014 is widely considered to be one of the weakest years in gaming as neither Xbox One or PS4 had any must have titles ready until at least the following year. And that’s because modern day ‘launch titles’ traditionally have had a reputation of being kinda … meh! As more higher quality titles need extra time to make the best use of their consoles hardware. However Nintendo showed how to buck this trend.

Let’s take a look at Nintendo’s timeline in the last few years, because it’s seems that Sony is following a similar strategy. In early 2016 Nintendo announced they were winding down support for the Wii U. And when E3 2016 came around, they chose to forgo doing a major Nintendo Direct showcase in favor of doing a livestream on just one title: “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild”. Which at the time had long been in development for the Wii U, but was now going to see a dual release on the Wii U and Nintendo’s upcoming new console. In October that same year; that console was announced to be the Nintendo Switch. So essentially 2016, was Nintendo’s off year as they got ready for 2017. This is already starting to mirror what Sony is preparing for in 2019, though they seem to be going one step further than Nintendo, by just: Not attending E3 at all.

Back to Nintendo and March 2017 see the release of the ‘Nintendo Switch’ with ‘Breath of the Wild’ as a launch title to overwhelming universal acclaim. The result is one of the fastest selling console launches of all time, and the momentum kept going throughout the year with major titles like “Splatoon 2” and “Super Mario Odyssey”. If we look at Sony: well given that “The Last of Us Part 2” & “Ghosts of Tsusima” currently don’t have release dates, its very likely their development may indeed be moving to the PS5 for that console’s debut year to prevent another early dry spell.

Since we already stated that 2019 would be Sony’s “Off-year”, that would obviously put 2020 as the release year of the Playstation 5, though what month is anyone’s guess at this stage.

But some may ask “Why is this off-year” necessary? Well it’s simple: Game development takes time, and developing for new hardware is often a tricky learning experience. If games are released too late in the console’s lifespan they run the risk of being overshadowed by better games on stronger hardware in the long term. Where as if they’re released too early on new hardware it may end up being a critical flop. So it makes sense from a business standpoint to take games already late in development on the PS4 and given the developers enough time to adapt the game for stronger hardware.

Thus it’s very likely we’ll see the PS5 launch around mid 2020 with “The Last of Us: Part 2” as a launch title, while “Ghosts of Tsusima” would release towards the end of the year. In early 2021 we may also get a sequel to Horizon: Zero Dawn and possibly God of War at the end of that year, not counting any new IP’s Sony may announce at the same time. As for ‘Death Stranding’ … well … that’s hard to say: Hideo Kojima is clearly doing something that defies all forms of conventional video game making. All we’re hoping for is that he doesn’t fall into the same trap as John Romero’s ‘Daikatana’, though that’s a video for another day.

Back to the present though there are two more statements we have to make: No! The PS4 is not dead! While the first party lineup is drying up, it’s third party lineup for next year is still very strong with the likes of the ‘Resident Evil 2’ Remake, ‘Kingdom Hearts III’, ‘Shadow’s Die Twice’ and ‘Devil May Cry 5’ just in the first 3 months. Let’s not forget that the PlayStation built its brand on successful third party support, and that’s not going away anytime soon.

And No! E3 isn’t dead either. Microsoft and Nintendo have both reaffirmed their commitment to the show. Though expect Microsoft’s press conference to be jam packed with nearly every upcoming third party game release that doesn’t have a Nintendo Switch port. While Nintendo also has the likes of Bayonetta 3, their next major Pokemon title and of course: Metroid Prime 4. All which have been announced but yet to be revealed. Not to mention the likes of Bethesda, Ubisoft, Square-Enix and “they who must not be named” (EA) holding their own press conferences.

If anything, now that Sony is out, everyone else is going to bring their S-Rank game to next year’s E3.

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