Sony Games Convention Conference Finished
Sony has finished giving what will be the only platform holder conference of the Leipzig Games Convention.
Among the announcements were a 160GB PS3, wireless keypad for PS3 controller, tweaked PSP for October, Heavy Rain and more.
There was also a weird German man that stage-invaded with a camera and microphone during a LittleBigPlanet demonstration towards the end. We found this very strange, although apparently he was some kind of German celebrity.
The transcript of our entire live text coverage of the conference follows.
Our live coverage has now ended. Here's what you missed: Updating...
So here we are, just minutes (all right possibly a lot of minutes, judging by previous conferences) away from the start of Sony's Leipzig Games Convention conference.
It's taking place in the middle of Sony's stand, which takes up a good portion of Hall 3. We've managed to get a seat in the VIP area. This is bound to be an improvement over last year's knee-jangling scenario.
A voice just came over the tannoy and said, "The conference is about to begin."
A man in a giant Buzz quizmaster suit is walking on the stage. "Oh yay" or "Oh no" depending on your perspective.
Now they're showing a montage of game footage - WipEout, LittleBigPlanet, FlOwer - just a few seconds of each.
Some sort of classical-techno music is playing in the background. Perhaps Vanessa Mae will make a surprise appearance!
PSP games now - CocoReccho, Rago Doll Kung Fu. And on to PSN - Fat Princess, PixelJunk Eden I'm saying nothing.
Ratchet's grinding down a rail - a new announcement perhaps? Or the PSN game they've just released?
David Reeves has taken to the stage and welcomed us in both German and English. Wie gehst du, Dave?
Now he's quoting Goethe - "a famous poet" who spent a lot of time in Leipzig. But Reeves wants to start with another poet quote.
"Come writers and critics who prophesise with your pen, and keep your eyes wide the chance won't come again."
It's "The Times They Are A Changin'" by Bob Dylan. "And don't speak too soon for the wheel's still in spin and there's no tellin' who that it's namin' for the loser now will be later to win for the times they are a changin'."
Dave reckons Bob has a lot to tell us about PlayStation. "The losers very quickly become winners. We have known this, and no doubt others will too."
But everyone's a winner as long as the industry grows, points out Dave - "most importantly, the gamers".
No sign of Bob Dylan. Or Vanessa Mae.
Now he's talking about what they said at E3 and London PlayStation day. Come on Dave, where are the "new and exciting" things you are promising?
He's going to showcase LBP, Killzone 2, MotorStorm: Pacific Rift and Resistance 2. "Games you have seen showcased before," he helpfully observes.
But wait! New games and technology too, says Dave!
That will be coming "first to Europe" and everything!
Time for the first announcement then. Last year, recalls Dave, they announced the Go! products for PSP at Leipzig. They've been a "huge success". PSP installed base is 13.4 million throughout PAL territories, and 41 million worldwide.
Just noticed there are two Helghasts standing by the stage. Perhaps they are Bob Dylan's copyright lawyers come to take Dave away.
It's a new iteration of PSP - the PSP 3000.
There's a pic on screen and Dave is holding one. It's Piano Black like the others. Smoother edges and corners.
"A couple of added features", but as slim and light as the Slim and Lite.
"We will be enhancing the LCD screen. What this actually means is we have taken the already high quality screen and increased the intensity and number of colours it can display."
The result is crisper colours with more intensity and less glare when you're out in natural light, apparently.
"It's really impressive," says Dave.
Plus PSP 3000 will include a built-in microphone - to help establish PSP as "a viable communication device".
As long as you're in a Wi-Fi area you'll be able to use Skype and Go!Messenger to contact people.
Slim and Lite is still important, though.
PSP 3000 will launch on 15th October in EMEA territories. It will cost EUR 199.
There will be eight bundles, all at EUR 199: FIFA, Harry Potter, Buzz and Go!Communications bundles will all be on offer.
Slim and Lite will be available as a standalone product for EUR 169, for "a limited period of time".
And that's it for PSP 3000 - he's on about Sony Online Entertainment now.
SOE is joining SCE with three titles: The Agency, DC Universe Online, and Free Realms - as we knew.
For the first time, SCE will be publishing and distributing SOE's PlayStation games, including the distribution of their PC versions. Dave is a lot more excited about this than most people in the room, I'd wager.
"New revenue streams as a result," says Dave. Ah, that's why he's excited.
We're going to take a quick look at the three games, apparently. Montage time!
Free Realms first. Looks a bit like a cross between The Sims and a nightmare I once had.
The Agency - lots more explosions and rock music. And now it's DC Universe Online. Superman and Wonder Woman are doing some posing, not in an erotic way.
And it's over. "Good," says Dave.
He probably didn't mean it like that.
Sony wants to "try new things", says Dave. Just make sure you and your partner are in a relaxed environment and it's a good idea to have a safety word, Dave.
"It's a strategy that is in full swing." Saying nothing.
"PS3 has had a great year - sales have grown enormously." To over 14 million worldwide, apparently, and 5.8 million in PAL territories. The 6 million barrier is "within our sights by the end of this month".
The 80GB PS3 will launch this Friday, one week ahead of schedule, as rumoured. Australia and New Zealand will get it on the 28th though. It will cost EUR 399.
He's announcing a 160GB PS3 to launch on 31st October. Halloween.
It will be the same spec as the 80GB but with the extra hard drive space, and priced at EUR 449.
That will include EUR 70 of additional downloadable content, "to be announced closer to the release date".
By the look of the box on screen, it looks just like the other PS3s.
PlayTV is launching on 19th September. "We're very excited," says Dave. Can't see any wee coming out or anything though.
LittleBigPlanet is coming out on 29th October in PAL territories. The box features Sack Boy holding a globe. It's very cute.
Now he's announcing that later this year, they will launch a wireless keypad for PS3.
It looks like a Blackberry-style keypad that slots onto the top of the PS3 pad.
"It's very compact, easy to use and detachable to Sixaxis and DualShock controllers." A slight fumble, but he's managed to slot it on and off the demo controller easily.
There will be eight versions of the keyboard in PAL markets to support various language needs.
The keypad will have a touch pad mode for mouse input. This is designed to make it easier to use the net browser, and "could be used in game development in the future".
It looks not unlike the Xbox 360 pad keyboard, to be honest.
Music now. They're doing a new service for 23 PAL countries, "free of charge". It's called Vidzone.
Streaming music and video. It's separate to the PSN music service, which is still on the way.
Vidzone is an additional feature that has been designed to offer "easy access" and allow PS3 to access "unlimited streaming of music on demand, totally free of charge".
You will be able to browse and play content from your favourite artists or genre, or choose the latest or recommended videos.
You can build and save a music library and create your own playlists.
You will be able to access it via remote access PSP, and download ringtones to your mobile "for a very small fee".
Vidzone is launching in early 2009. He's going to show us a video of it in action. "Bring Music to your PS3." It looks a bit like the iPlayer.
"Send music straight to your mobile." No sign of pricing, just a "buy" button. The interface looks similar to the PSN Store, but it's green rather than blue. "Your own music channel on PS3."
Dave's back. Oh no, graphs.
There will be two services in PAL markets - music and movies.
Vidzone will launch in Q1 next year. The Music download service for PSP and PS3 will launch in Q3 2009. Go!View, the Sky service, will launch in Q3 of 2008.
A Video download service will launch next year. The US one. It's all a bit confusing and he's taken the slide away.
"I'm sure you want to know about the games." Not half, Dave. "As we are in Germany, what better game to begin with than SingStar?" A PC RTS, perhaps?
SingStar video. It's so lifestyle I may go blind from all the white. Microsoft had Duffy at their E3 conference. Can Sony top that? With Vanessa Mae perhaps?
2.2 million downloads from the SingStore so far. Soon there will be functionality that lets you play tracks from SingStar PS2 discs on PS3.
You can play all the tracks on your PS3. This feature will be delivered as a firmware enhancement this year, and will be included on SingStar PS3 discs from early next year. It's "sure to raise the roof at parties", says Dave.
In Volume 3 of SingStar, there will be new artists including Michael Jackson and Barry Manilow. MANILOW.
And The Ting Tings. Never mind the Ting Tings Dave. MANILOW.
Another video. Billie Jean!
ALL NIGHT LONG BY LIONEL RICHIE! Some kind of rapper. Fergie - The Black-Eyed Peas (not the ex-royal). Katrina and the Waves.
The Ting Tings. WHERE IS MANILOW. No Manilow. Killer Queen.
And now he's announcing SingStar Disney - with songs from The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast and Henry Portrait of a Serial Killer. Maybe not the last one.
Cinderella, The Jungle Book, The Little Mermaid, etc.
SingStar Disney is out this autumn and will be a huge hit with kids, says Dave.
The first SingStar song packs are on the way - the first two will each feature five songs from Queen. They will cost EUR 6.99 and be out this September.
The Helghasts have disappeared. Where have they gone? To kill the man who came up with the idea for SingStar Disney?
"Something truly unique" now, says Dave. "EyePet."
"This magical application" lets you adopt a virtual pet and watch as he or she comes to life in your living room.
You can "stroke" them, "play with" them, or draw toys for them to play with in your living room.
Some footage is being show. A frightening monkey-dog thing is bursting out of a lifestyle family's telly.
The lifestyle boy claps and it jumps. He draws a car on a bit of paper, the monkey-thing colours it in and the lifestyle dad presses a button on the PS3 pad to turn it into a 3D wooden car.
The monkey-thing is wearing a variety of outfits e.g. punk, dinosaur. I am not sure I understand the meaning of anything any more. EyePet is out next year.
Another game now. "Tonight is the first time you have truly seen this game." It's Heavy Rain. David Cage, the president of developer Quantic Games, is taking the stage.
We can't call him Dave too. We'll call him Cagey.
He's banging on about how Quantic is based in Paris and they made Fahrenheit. Come on Cagey, show us the crying lady with the gun.
Quantic wants to centre the game on "narrative and emotion", and "mature content" and "complex stories".
However, it's got to be accessible to a broad audience too. No guns, cars etc. - it's about the emotional experience, empathy, contextual actions and moral choices. You will play the story instead of watching it; you will be the writer, director at the same time.
They wanted to make a game where the story is told through players' actions, not cut-scenes. A picture of a crying lady is on the screen! That's more like it.
"We think about it not like a videogame, but as a different kind of experience based on emotion." I once had a similar experience with Pac-Man World 3.
Time for a trailer. "Actual gameplay footage," apparently.
It's raining in what looks like a suburban US town. Kids skip about on porch step. A lady gets off a motorbike infront of the house and climbs through the window, which slams shut after her. She walks into the lounge. The windows are boarded up, mannequins are posed in strange clothes.
There's a man in the house - they start fighting. He's got a knife. They face off across a table then into the bedroom. The scene ends abruptly, and cuts to the image of the woman's face when she was still outside the house, wet with her tears or the rain - it's hard to tell.
"Full time 3D and playable," says Cagey. During the demo shape button icons appeared, suggesting context-sensitive play - a bit like Quick-Time Actions. Hmm. That's all Dave's got to share with us this year.
"On numerous occasions we've accepted it was difficult for us with PS3," says Dave. "2008 has been a great year so far and we've every confidence... The only first now we care about is that PS3 is the first choice for gaming."
Now he's handing over to the Sony Germany boss. I think it's the same man who sang with Die Toten Hosen last year. No sign of them though.
He's talking in German. There are some amazing graphs on the screen. Yellow balls and red balls are rolling out of tubes to represent portable console sales. Or something.
Now cylinders are rolling down a hill to represent the market share of TV-based consoles in Germany. It's all happening very fast. No idea. "Einer PlayStation."
Another graph. This one looks like a windmill. Now some blocks are falling out of the sky. It's like Jack Tretton's LittleBigPlanet presentation at E3, except much more boring.
More blocks are falling out of the sky. Something is totalling 8.5 million these days. No idea what.
SingStar's very popular in Germany, according to the latest graph. Oh good, another SingStar video. Some white German people dressed as LA rappers are talking about how brilliant SingStar is. "I was making a kebab at the same time when I put the disc in, man. Sh*t man, the disc tells me I'm a rookie," say the English subtitles.
"The kebab was completely burned."
Now some more normal looking people are talking about how much they like SingStar. None of them are describing any disastrous kebab-related experiences. Have you ever burned a kebab while playing SingStar, Eurogamer readers?
"Singing is always good," says a pretty lady. Oh no the white rappers are back. "The coolest thing is that you can download songs from the SingStar." It is hard to imagine The Game or 50 Cent saying this.
"You know, SingStar Turkish Party! That would be so cool man!" What? Is this kebab-related? Or is this some kind of casual racism?
No, they're serious. SingStar Turkish Party is on the screen.
Time for a LittleBigPlanet video. Sackboy, dressed as a Roman centurion, drags a 3D heart over to his girlfriend. Now he's jumping around familiar-looking platforms, swinging on ropes, all the usual business.
It's looking pretty, polished and cute, as always. The demo ends with Sackboy falling onto a smouldering block and being incinerated. Not so cute.
The producer of LBP is on the stage now. "How is it going, Mr LittleBigPlanet?" says Mr Sony Germany.
They're doing the "final touches" and are "doing the beta trials", apparently. "People are creating some truly fantastic things we didn't expect them to do." They can't wait to see what gamers across the world will create. Someone should tell them it will be cocks, for the most part.
We're seeing four Sackboys in what looks like a big tent on the big screen. One's a cowboy, one's a lion, one's wearing a Russian hat and the other one's plain. What's going on? Someone has stormed onto the stage with a camera and microphone.
He's interrupted the demo and shaken the hand of the LBP man and the Sony man. They look frightened. There is a lot of German talking going on.
The TV man tries to talk to the LBP man in German but he doesn't actually speak it. Is this for real?
Perhaps this man is big in Germany. Loads of press photographers are now taking pictures. This is weird. Now he's being invited to play LittleBigPlanet. It must be a setup.
"I'm just going to ignore this guy and carry on," says the LBP man. "I can't understand a word you're saying but you smell beautiful," says the weird TV man. "Go on please with this perfect game."
No idea what is going on here. The TV man doesn't seem to know either. "I have to destroy the bubbles, right?" he says. Yes, says the LBP man. You have to destroy them to get extra costumes. "Every single thing you can see here, you can make yourself."
"Who could possibly have thought this was a good idea," says GamesIndustry.biz editor Phil Elliott, sitting next to me. "Sony," I reply.
Another cameraman is filming the audience and shining a big light right in our eyes. Why? Just why?
And yet the demo continues. The characters are jumping across flaming pits. "There are over 50 levels in the game," not including any you create yourselves. That will total "literally hundreds of thousands". LITERALLY.
"The game is going to be fantastic," says the man who is making the game. "Only for PlayStation 3?" says the weird man. The LittleBigPlanet man has left the stage, trying not to look like he's running. There is some banter between the weird man and the Sony man. Now the weird man's off too. That was weird.
"Auf Wiedersehen." And it's over.