Sony had a rapid-fire series of announcements during its press conference at Gamescom, and we're going to sift through the mountains of trailers and announcements to try to talk about some of the meat. So what are the trends here?
Sony doesn't really care about the Vita
There was next to nothing about the PlayStation Vita, which isn't surprising due to the hardware's relative lack of sales in recent days. It's an amazing machine with a wide variety of content, especially if you like indie games, but if you have a limited amount of time to get people excited about things, it's understandable that Sony shifted into "all PS4, all the time" mode for its press conference.
They did announce, however, that the PlayStation TV is coming to the United States in October, in case anyone wants to spend at least $100 to play Vita games on their television or to find out if PlayStation Now works for them. Anyone? No?
I doubt we'll hear about that interesting, if limited, console at Sony's next press conference either.
Sony is doing interesting things for people who don't own each game
Some really cool ideas here, and let's hope they get ripped off by other companies. On the PlayStation 4 you'll get 10 keys with your copy of Far Cry 4, and those keys allow you to invite friends who don't own the game to play with you for up to two hours.
That's a pretty beefy demo and, more importantly, it shows trust in the game's quality. The reasoning is easy to spot: Ubisoft thinks you'll buy it after getting an extensive demo. I just see it as a way to invite my friends to play a session or two with me. Everyone wins.
The upcoming Share Play feature that will launch with the 2.0 firmware coming this Fall will also help you play with people who may not own the game you're enjoying.
"PlayStation 4 will create an online local co-op experience by allowing you to invite a friend to join your game — even when they don’t own a copy of it," Sony stated. "With this first-of-its-kind feature, you’ll be able to play games with a friend just as if you were together in the same room."
You'll also be able to invite someone to take over your game for a bit to get you past a part that's giving you trouble, which is a pretty cool way to play socially. Expect some limitations on how this feature will be used as well, but it's a fun use of the technology that will help bring players together, even without a purchase. Sony has been doing a great job of extending its online benefits, and this is certainly another unique way to do so.
Indies and recycled games are a great strategy
I don't mean "recycled" games as a bad thing at all, and Sony has been leading the charge in getting a little extra mileage out of existing games. Journey is coming to the PS4, as is Unfinished Swan. Both games are striking and will do well on the hardware, especially since Sony has likely swayed quite a few players over to the PS4 who may not have owned a PS3.
Tearaway coming to the PS4? Sure. Papers, Please? Of course. Volume, Mike Bithell's follow-up to Thomas Was Alone? Get that guy onstage. DayZ on PS4? Why not! Sony has an excellent habit of raiding its own catalog and existing PC games to pad out the PS4's catalog, a trick that Microsoft has only begun to emulate with its upcoming Halo collection. Sony has also had great successes plumbing the world of indie games for unique titles.
Sony is going to keep finding interesting games for its platforms, and it's likely going to continue to plunder older titles for chances to update the graphics or re-release the games. When the results are this good, who's complaining?
To sum it up
Sony has sold 10 million PlayStation 4 units to date worldwide. That's not shipped, that's sold to actual players. That's a huge accomplishment, and the Gamescom press conference feels like a victory lap. A ton of great games, news from non-exclusive but seemingly PlayStation-focused titles like Destiny, and a ton of interesting games.
This is the way to get people talking, and it's a great slate of titles and releases combined with PlayStation-specific features. It's too bad there's no place for the Vita in these events, it's a wonderful system if you go into it with the right expectations.