Sony Gamescom Recap: PS4 Date, Price Cuts, Microsoft Burned
“While others have shifted their message, and changed their story, we were consistent in maintaining policies, and a model that is fair, and in tune with consumer desires.”
The biggest news to come out of Sony’s Gamescom 2013 press conference this morning was the announcement of the Playstation 4 launch date of Nov. 15 in the US, and Nov. 29 in Europe. But the presser’s defining moment was this quote, delivered with a smirk by Sony Computer Entertainment President and CEO Andrew House.
It’s yet another entry in the long list of ways Sony has delighted in mocking rival Microsoft over that company’s controversial Xbox One policies, policies Microsoft has continued to jettison as it seeks to correct the damage from a PR effort defined early-on by perceived tone-deafness and arrogance. And whatever your opinion on the merits of both consoles or their corporate creators, House’s comments set the stage for what is shaping up to be a vicious, and definitely entertaining battle for gamers’ hard-earned money.
PS4: Definitely A Good Deal?
Sony’s strategy has long been to emphasize that for Playstation customers, the transition to the next generation of consoles will be somewhat less fiscally painful. That strategy was continued this morning when Sony announced a slew of deals for customers, starting with the news that both the 12 GB PS3 and Playstation Vita are dropping in price, to $199.99 in the US, and €199.99 in Europe. The cost of Vita was further sweetened with the announcement that when Playstation 4 launches, “almost all” of its games will feature remote play capability with Vita. That’s a tremendous improvement over the Remote Play service as it currently exists, with support for only a handful of PS3 titles.
Sony also confirmed that the basic Playstation 4 package covered by the in-box price is going to be robust. Music Unlimited has been improved significantly for PS4, with a new interface, access to a catalogue of 22 million songs, and the inclusion of features long asked for, such as the ability to listen to your Music Unlimited playlists while playing video games. In addition, “Over 20 video services and applications coming to PS4″ bundled with the console won’t be locked behind a paywall. The centerpiece of this is a just-announced partnership with Twitch, which will allow gamers to access video game livestreams at the touch of a button at no additional cost.
In a nice change from the usual obliviousness to the fact that not everyone enjoys Internet access on par with residents of Silicon Valley, Sony announced plans to mitigate the notoriously terrible Internet service many Europeans experience, via partnerships with companies like Orange, Deutsche Telekom (T-Mobile) and Virgin designed to provide broadband access with speeds of up to 200mbps to PS4 owners. While the details of the plans were only alluded to, it was said that at minimum, these deals will ensure that “bits of the pipe are left open to gamers.” No doubt this may come with added cost for those who wish to take advantage, but it’s a step in the right direction.