The opening of Sony's Gamescom press conference this year was a revelation--and not because it was filled with any earth-shattering announcements, or CEO-related mishaps. Rather, it showed Sony--a company that for the longest time seemed to have completely lost the plot--finally getting its act together, and understanding its audience.
Shuhei Yoshida didn't say a word as he quietly walked onstage to open the show. There was no grand fanfare as he sat down in a comfy leather chair and began casually flicking through the slick-looking menus of the PlayStation 4. And there was no wall of marketing fluff between him and the audience as he jumped into a Killzone match, failed to shoot at anything in particular, and tweeted a picture of one of its trees.
You could easily imagine yourself in Yoshida's place, sitting back in that comfy leather chair and generally larking about on a PlayStation. Here was a company so assured in its messaging, and so completely convinced by its creation, that it had the confidence to sit back, shut up, and let the product do the talking. Sony simply showed the world how great the PS4 is without surrounding it with a cloud of fluffy marketing speak and outlandish promises. It was relaxed, it was self-assured, and, above all, it was genuine.
It was a piece of presentation brilliance that Sony's competitors would do well to take to heart. When Peter Moore takes to the stage for EA and starts spouting hyperbole about the latest FIFA, do you really believe that he has ever played a game in his life? Or when Microsoft's Phil Spencer announces that FIFA 14 is being bundled in with preorders of the Xbox One, do you really think that it's some grand gift to gamers, rather than just a desperate attempt to claw back customers after a string of disastrous decisions?
"Sony simply showed the world how great the PS4 is without surrounding it with a cloud of fluffy marketing speak and outlandish promises."
Sony is not perfect, and it certainly fell in the trap of wheeling out an endless string of suits to promote its wares later in its presentation. But by grabbing our attention so firmly at the start--even if it was ultimately just some slick marketing--you feel that it cares, that there's a grand vision at work underneath it all that's finally coming to fruition.
You could see that vision when Sony announced that the PS4 was designed to make it as easy as possible for developers to create great games. You could see it when Sony told a packed E3 crowd that you could share and sell disc-based games, and play them without an Internet connection. And you could see it when it spent as much time talking about indie games at this year's Gamescom as it did the likes of Killzone: Shadow Fall and Assassin's Creed IV.
This is a company that has an innate understanding of what its customers want, and one that's not afraid to be bold when it needs to be. It's hard to imagine Microsoft showcasing something as off-the-wall as Octodad alongside the likes of Killzone, and yet Sony does so, and it never feels like an insincere token gesture towards the indie crowd. Our Sony Gamescom appointments this year weren't filled with shooters and racers, but rather the likes of Knack, Rain, and Beyond: Two Souls.
Ultimately, what we want are great games. Some of us will want our games to have big explosions. Others will want to race the fastest cars. Other people will want games that are artistic, wacky, thought-provoking, or just plain fun. There's absolutely no doubt in my mind that the PS3, the PS4, and yes, even the Vita, are the best places to get that kind of variety now and in the future, at least if you don't own a gaming PC.
Microsoft might have the mighty Titanfall, but it doesn't have the confidence, the charm, or the passion for games that will see it play a majority role in the next console generation. Sony has got its act together; it's telling the world it knows and loves games. And that is exactly what's going to secure its place as the console of choice.'