Sony took to the stage at this year’s Gamescom to unveil what it has planned for their Playstation brand over the next 12 months; they revealed a renewed their focus on improving their PS Vita, changes to the Playstation Plus service and a lot of new games. Including a slew of quirky new IPs, which Sony was so famed for during the Playstation 2 years.
Playstation Plus heading to PS Vita
The Playstation Plus subscription, whereby subscribers get free games every month, will now make the jump to the Playstation Vita. Details of which are still a bit sketchy as there’s no info on price or release dates. But Sony promised to flesh-out their plans a little further down the line.
Sony announced that the next big budget game to be offered for free to Plus members would be Rockstar Games’ wild-west epic Red Dead Redemption, which would be available to subscribers, for free, in September.
Sony only recently started offering full PS3 games to download for free for a limited time as part of its Instant Games Collection offer. Sony will tempt you to join up with a 25 per cent discount on a Plus subscription from 5th September for two weeks. And finally, Cloud storage will also be increasing – from 150MB up to a gigabyte.
Playstation Mobile expands
Sony unveiled plans for Playstation Mobile, a service launched last year to bring Playstation games to certified Android phones and tablets. They’re bite-sized games similar to PS minis and Sony announced that Asus and Wikipad would now become Playstation certified.
PlayStation Mobile uses the PlayStation Store and PSN ID accounts to work and should be available on new devices soon. When you buy a PlayStation Mobile game, it’ll be linked to your PSN ID which means you can play it across all capable devices without having to buy it several times, which is a nice touch.
Another innovative change the Playstation Network is the Crossbuy initiative. Simply put: if you buy a game on the Playstation 3 you get the PS Vita game for free. Games announced were a little thin on the ground, but included Playstation All-Stars, Sly Cooper and Rachet and Clank Qforce. Each of those games, understandably, makes use of the cross-platform Vita to PS3 connection, with Sony promising to continue to invest “heavily” in this area as the future unfolds over time.
While Gamescom may have lacked some new triple-A titles – there were a selection of offbeat, stranger titles that are classic Sony offerings.
The first to get its world premiere was Playstation Network title Rain, created by Sony Japan it’s a adventure game with a twist. It casts you as a boy that turns invisible after he sees a young girl disappear in the rain. As you run though a dark, inhospitable, city the only way to follow the boy’s movement is by spotting his footstep in puddles or watching his outline in the rain. Rain continues the considered beauty you’d find in Journey and is melancholic adventure that proves once again that games don’t have to have guns and violence to capture gamers’ imaginations.
Supermassive Games’ Will Byles took to the stage to unveil his new game, Until Dawn is described as a “Teen Horror” experience that pokes fun a Scream and the like. It uses the Move camera, as you try to figure out who’s trying to murder you in a misty forest. Supermassive said that it’s working with Hollywood writers and US television actors for the game.
Finally, there’s Puppeteer, an adventure game with a Pinnochio twist. It’s from the team the brought us Little Big Planet. You control a Kutaro, a boy transformed into a puppet by the Moon Beark King. After the king eats his wooden head, Kutaro’s is off on an adventure with the help of a pair of scissors to get his head back.
Despite Sony’s current woes, it’s good to see the Japanese firm investing in the Playstation brand so far into a console cycle – from early impression Sony’s press conference was a resounding success – and we’ll know how successful when we get to the lucrative Christmas window. Could they overtake Xbox as the best selling console in the US, only time will tell, but Gamescom has done them no harm at all.