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E3: It’s All About the Games For Sony & Nintendo

Hardware announcements are scarce; content rules the day 6/13/2017 04:30:00 PM Eastern

The main story at Sony Interactive Entertainment’s Monday evening PlayStation E3 Media Showcase was the typically large number of titles that will be released for the PS4 between now and some undisclosed time in 2018, including — as expected — several that make use of its PlayStation VR virtual-reality game system.

The focus was also entirely on games during the Nintendo Direct presentation that company streamed online Tuesday morning. Anybody hoping that Nintendo might bow a new accessory — such as one offering VR — for the Nintendo Switch hybrid home video game console/portable game system that it introduced in 2016, and shipped in March, was disappointed.

Nintendo instead just showed several coming games for the Switch that will be released in 2017 and 2018, including “Metroid Prime 4,” Nintendo’s “Super Mario Odyssey” (coming Oct. 27), a Pokemon role-playing game whose name wasn’t disclosed (likely 2018), and also the first games for the system starring the characters Kirby and Yoshi, both coming in 2018.

“Let’s just agree that we love games and we want to see more of them tonight,” Shawn Layden, president of Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE) America and chairman of SIE Worldwide Studios, said while kicking off his company’s presentation.

“It’s all about the games,” he said, adding, “Every year we continue to push the envelope of storytelling, imagination and technology, and 2016 was no exception. Virtual reality is now a real consumer product and our consoles are more powerful than ever, offering 4K and high dynamic range (HDR) options. “With the launches of PlayStation VR and PS4 Pro, PlayStation once again stood at the forefront of bringing these technologies to the world of interactive entertainment.”

Those hoping that Sony would unveil another totally new console, like Microsoft’s Xbox One X, were also disappointed. The PS4 Pro console that was introduced last year offers 4K video streaming, like the Microsoft Xbox One S that shipped last year and Xbox One X shipping this holiday season, but the PS4 Pro doesn’t support UHD Blu-ray like the Xbox One models.

For more concrete news than what Sony showed at its event, one had to instead turn to announcements that it made via a press release providing an update on PS4 sales, as well as a PlayStation Blog post providing details on the company’s new PlayLink for PS4 line of games that allow players to use their mobile devices as controllers for games being played on a TV through the PS4.

Sony said the PS4 had cumulatively sold through more than 60.4 million units to consumers globally as of June 11. The PS4 is now available in 123 countries and regions globally, it said.

PS4 software sales, meanwhile, “remain strong with more than 487.8 million copies sold at retail stores globally and through digital downloads” on the PlayStation Store as of the same date, it said. The company didn’t give any update on PS VR sales.

"The PS4 platform is in its prime,” Andrew House, president and global CEO of SIE, said in the company’s news release, adding: “We are committed to further expanding our overall PS4 ecosystem, by broadening the PlayStation VR content portfolio, as well as enriching our network services.”

PS4 games that will be released this year include “Destiny 2” from Activision, “Star Wars Battlefront II” from Electronic Arts and “Uncharted: The Lost Legacy” from SIE Worldwide Studios (WWS). VR titles for the PS4 and the PS VR that Sony promoted at its event included “Legion Commander” from Chinese developer ChangYou, “No Heroes Allowed” from SIE Japan Studio and Japanese developer Acquire, FuturLab’s “Tiny Trax,” and “Farpoint,” a shooter game from developer Impulse Games that uses Sony’s new Aim Controller gun accessory for PS VR. The controller shipped last month and comes as part of a bundle with “Farpoint” at $79.99.

PlayLink, meanwhile, was described by Michael Denny, senior VP at SIE WWS, as an “exciting new way to play games with family and friends.” The new collection of games “take advantage of the smartphone or tablet device’s touchscreen and camera capabilities,” he said at the PlayStation Blog. He added that the PlayLink titles are “designed to be played in a group setting,” and “if you have a smartphone or tablet with the free companion app installed and your PS4 hooked up to a TV, you’re already set.” The games “turn your smartphone or tablet into a versatile controller –- you can swipe, pinch, drag, tilt, rotate or even snap selfies and draw crafty doodles, depending on the game,” he said.

The initial PlayLink title is “That’s You!,” a comic quiz title that PlayStation Plus members will be able to access for free starting July 4, he said. Other initial PlayLink games coming later this year include “Hidden Agenda,” “Knowledge is Power,” “Frantics,” and the music title “SingStar Celebration” that can be used with the SingStar microphone or by combining a smartphone with the SingStar Mic App.

One week prior to E3, Sony said it would be shipping a new, gold version of its current PS4. The slim Gold PS4 with 1TB of HDD storage became available June 9 at the limited-time promotional price of $249 in the U.S. That’s $50 less than the current regular version of the console. The gold model comes with a matching DualShock 4 wireless controller, and will only be available for a limited time, it said.

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