TOKYO--Directly after the Tokyo Game Show's opening ceremony takes place, Sony's president and group CEO, Kaz Hirai, will be taking to the stage to deliver his keynote address on "A Look at Expanding Our Business Strategy Toward New Growth: The Expanding PlayStation World."
Hirai's presentation is taking place inside Makahuri Messe International Conference Hall, and the 1,000 seats allocated for members of the press, executives, and the general public are filled to capacity.
It has been rumored that the Sony executive will be taking the opportunity during his keynote address to make some announcements, including that of a Dual Shock 3 controller for the PlayStation 3.
[6:31] The venue is stuffed full to capacity, with a camera crews crammed into the back of the hall.
[6:32] The lights have gone down. It begins!
[6:33] A trailer is playing from the CESA to introduce TGS '07.
[6:33] Kaz Hirai is being announced. He takes to stage to rapturous applause.
[6:34] He welcomes everyone to the TGS and says that this is his first opportunity since taking up his new post to make a speech in front of so many people.
[6:35] He says that PlayStation, since 1994, has surpassed Sony's original business model.
[6:36] And has become a world leader.
[6:36] He says he will be talking about some of the company's ideas and how Sony will be contributing to the industry as a whole.
[6:36] Since he has taken over his position last September, he has been saying that the company needs to get back to basics and make more interesting games.
[6:37] The PS2 was launched in 2000, and this is the eighth year. Since 2000, the price has decreased drastically, he says.
[6:38] To date, 120 million PS2 units have been sold worldwide.
[6:38] The PS2 has enjoyed a far longer life than the PSOne. This year, more than 300 titles are scheduled to be released for the PS3.
[6:38] He displays a graph showing how the PS2 has enjoyed a long and healthy life, with all lines going upward to mark its record-breaking sales.
[6:39] "Now, with the PlayStation Portable, people can bring the functionalities of the PlayStation brand outside of the home," says Hirai.
[6:40] He boasts that Midnight Club II, Monster Hunter 2, and Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories have all become platinum titles on the PSP.
[6:40] "We will soon reach 30 million units sold for the PSP," promises the executive.
[6:40] Hirai shows off a picture of all the six new colors of the new slim PlayStation Portable, which is to be launched in Japan today.
[6:41] He goes on to talk about various bundles that have been launched for the PSP.
[6:43] Sony localizes all its packages and bundles for each market. Hirai talks about the PSP camera for Europe and Japan, as well as the 1 SEG Tuner for the new PSP.
[6:45] Hirai references the company's presentation at Leipzig and says that users are asking for such functionalities as mail, TV, pictures, and video.
[6:45] "Sony needs to further expand the multimedia capabilities of the PSP, as these are popular features," he says.
[6:46] There will now be a demonstration of the PSP's Remote Play from the PS3. A high-definition TV--Sony-made, naturally--is wheeled out on stage.
[6:47] Another Sony official takes to the stage to do the demonstration. He is talking up the PSP and the way it connects remotely to the PS3, so gamers can access PS3 functionalities on their PSPs.
[6:49] The exec says that in Japan, wireless is free and easily accessible from many free Wi-Fi points in shops and hotels. So this is a "really cool feature."
[6:50] Kaz Hirai has retaken the stage and is now showing off the way that the PSP can be used as an additional monitor, screen, or a controller for the PS3.
[6:51] There is also a voice-recognition function, and multiplayer games can be accessed by multiple users on multiple PSPs, with others joining as spectators.
[6:52] Hirai continues to talk about the possibilities of Remote Play in the future.
[6:52] Users will be able to play their games on the PS3s, and when they have to leave for work, continue playing them during their commutes on their PSPs.
[6:53] "PSP will make use of these extended functions to expand the world of PlayStation and will be a very important part of the platform's growth," says Hirai.
[6:54] He then apologizes for not being able to launch the PS3 at the same time worldwide in late 2006.
[6:54] Hirai hopes that the PS3 will become "the core home entertainment system."
[6:55] Some 40 PS3 titles will be at the Sony Computer Entertainment booth on the TGS floor, promises Hirai.
[6:55] Which titles, you ask? Hirai introduces them in the form of a video montage.
[6:56] Final Fantasy XIII, Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, and Devil May Cry 4 are shown briefly.
[6:57] They are followed by Sega Rally Revo, Call of Duty 4, Spider-Man 3, and Conan.
[6:57] Heavenly Sword, of course, is shown as well. Some of the titles are for Japan only and look quite quirky.
[6:58] MGS4 and Afrika finish off the video montage. Kaz asks the audience how they liked the games...
[6:59] ...after some applause, the lights come back up. Hirai then says Sony Computer Entertainment will be doing new things to work better with partners.
[6:59] "Further building close relationships with its partners and improving the development environment is a priority for Sony," he says.
[7:00] Sony will also be accelerating the development of first-party titles, promises Hirai, with an emphasis on PS3 titles.
[7:03] He is now talking about the acquisition of developers in Europe, such as Evolution Studios.
[7:03] Here comes another video montage: Pursuit Force: Extreme Justice and MotorStorm are the main games shown.
[7:04] Now down to brass tacks: Hirai says that Sony will be reducing PS3 manufacturing costs by making the console's semiconductors smaller and reducing the number of components in the system.
[7:04] Dual Shock 3 is now official. (For more on the Dual Shock 3, check out GameSpot's in-depth, hands-on profile of the peripheral.)
[7:05] "This came from listening to users who said that they wanted a vibration function on the PS3," says Hirai.
[7:06] Sony introduced the Sixaxis, but Hirai says the company realized users wanted Dual Shock. At first, they "thought it would be too difficult, but they have managed to overcome this difficulty." It is unclear if he means technology or Sony's legal battle with Immersion.
[7:07] The Dual Shock 3 looks exactly like the Sixaxis and will launch in Japan in November, as well as North America and Europe in spring 2008. No exact date or pricing are mentioned, nor does he say whether it has to be bought separately or will be bundled with future PS3s.
[7:07] Games that will use the Dual Shock 3's rumble function include DMC 4 and Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots.
[7:08] As soon as the vibration function was decided upon, Sony announced it to its partners, although there was little time to add it to games before TGS. That said, 11 games so far have incorporated the function. (An updated list subsequently released by Sony shows over 60 titles will have Dual Shock 3 support.)
[7:09] As for existing titles, they can be updated via the PlayStation Network so they can use the vibration function, says Hirai.
[7:10] Hirai says this update is a result of how the game industry is moving rapidly toward a networked world.
[7:10] Now, he has an exciting announcement to make: Grand Turismo 5: Prologue will be available on December 13 in Japan.
[7:11] The subject quickly moves to the eagerly awaited virtual world and social network, PlayStation Home.
[7:11] Home has now been delayed. It was due to be released at the end of the year but will be pushed back to spring 2008
[7:12] "Please be patient," says Hirai.
[7:13] Hirai mentions "Everybody's Fashion Function," a way to dress Home avatars, but it's not sure exactly what he means. He promises more details will be given at the company's booth on the TGS show floor.
[7:14] On to the PlayStation Store. Currently, the store offers 30 PS3 games, 300 add-on items, 100 game archives, and 90 demo movies.
[7:15] People have been asking for more convenience and can now access the PlayStation Store from PCs and transfer content to PSPs as of today.
[7:15] Now Hirai talks the future possibilities for the PS3 and its powerful cell processor.
[7:15] He compares the PS3 to a supercomputer, going into much technical detail.
[7:16] He thinks that networked PS3s will propel Sony's effort to move into real-time entertainment.
[7:17] Oh, and "Blu-Ray discs provide the best video quality," he adds.
[7:17] Hirai then says he is happy that TGS is starting today and hopes to see the members of the audience at Sony's booth. Is that it?
[7:17] Apparently not. "Sony wants to be a much more active member of the gaming industry," says Hirai.
[7:18] "The game industry is quite unique compared to other industries," he says. "What Sony needs to do is get back to basics."
[7:18] "Gamers should be able to enjoy games with the rest of the world, and Sony would like to help them to do that."
[7:18] He thanks the audience for coming--to robust applause.