Good afternoon from the Millennium Dome (I'm not calling it The O2). We're installed in an auditorium surrounded by veiled PlayStation pods in the shadow - well, lifestyle glow - of a massive screen showing PlayStation animations, with a podium off to one side of it.
Hello and welcome to Eurogamer's live coverage of Sony's PlayStation Day press conference on London!
Unfortunately you're too late for the actual live bit of the live coverage, but you can still see what happened by reading through the updates.
Please forgive any typos and libel, or alternatively please hunt us down and murder us.
Kaz Hirai and David Reeves will both be talking to us this afternoon, we can confirm, so expect a mixture of graphs and product demonstrations.
Unless this is the first games industry press conference in history to begin on time, we've probably got a few minutes to go before anything happens. People nearby are regarding me suspiciously because I'm clacking away.
Probably also because my desktop wallpaper is a flying electronic bat bearing the slogan "COM-BAT!!!1111oneoneone".
According to my lanyard, the "sampling" period after the conference will give us hands-on access to the likes of Killzone 2, LittleBigPlanet and Home, and MotorStorm 2 is called MotorStorm Pacific Rift. But you know that, assuming the people I left behind put it on the Internet when I ordered them to.
Anyway, I'm going to stop wittering until something happens.
[Sorry, we're having a couple of technical hiccups. We'll be back with you soon - Ed]
Starting very soon, we're assured. Small admin note: we've had to switch to LiveText Tech Solution Delta, so you might notice a reduction in pace.
It's starting off with a montage of Sony product videos - LittleBigPlanet, echochrome and friends. "Play brings us together" apparently. Killzone 2 also appears as we're told that Play is a thousand stories waiting to be told. Now there are shots of MotorStorm launching from Home.
David Reeves has arrived on stage. "Welcome to our PlayStation Day" he says. He's introducing Kaz Hirai, pointing out that he hasn't spoken publicly since TGS. Kaz is on stage to share the "wonderful" range of games and services PlayStation has to offer.
Says that the PAL territories are really important and that there's a lot of product being developed here, including Buzz, SingStar, Formula 1, Killzone and LittleBigPlanet.
He says that next week will see proper new sales figures for hardware revealed in Tokyo, but that the end of '07 stuff they've already reported was PSP - 34 million, PS3 - 10.5 million, PS2 - 127 million.
"Ultimately it's the games that define the PlayStation," Hirai says. Sony will be pushing "PS3's multi-faceted entertainment credentials" today along with its games.
He's returning to the subjects of his TGS speech, including the "greater sharing" of knowledge and assets with devs. He reckons we're "seeing real steps in quality" and developers choosing PS3 as their primary format. "I've always thought of PS3 being a long-term play for us" he says, reckoning a 10-year lifespan is on the cards.
The first year had teething problems, threats from competitors and some disappointment among punters, Hirai says, but "things have improved greatly" since late last year, and 2008 has "got off to a great start". He also points out that GT5 Prologue and GTA IV are the only major PS3 releases so far.
GT5P, LBP, MGS4, Resistance 2, Haze, MotorStorm 2 and Buzz are the key pillars for 2008 on PS3, says Hirai. Along with Blu-ray and PlayTV, it's an "easy decision" to make PS3 the centre of your gaming and entertainment habits, he says.
Home will be "open to the public towards the end of the year", he points out, referencing the TGS announcement. He also apologises for the delay and reiterates that he won't open up Home until he's "completely happy with it". "As great as it currently is, it needs a little more time". Autumn.
"Our confident in Home has not wavered," he says, promising we'll see more on the show floor. Moving on, he turns to PSN, with "over 8 million" sign-ups worldwide and 3m in PAL territories.
LBP in October will "revolutionise" the way people interact with games. He says unique, exciting and accessible games will make PS3 the staple diet for gamers - including casual and social gamers. He's now handing back to David Reeves.
Reeves thanks Hirai and moves back to the subject of games. He says they've moved away from a per-platform focus.
"As of today, in our region, we have sold nearly 12 million units." They've also sold 5 million PS3s in Europe. Says Reeves is "particularly proud" as the timeframe is "similar" to PS2's launch despite the difference in price.
"We have sold more PlayStation 3s throughout Europe than Xbox 360," he says, despite 360's launching a lot earlier.
(Sorry about technical issues, readers. It's frustrating for us too.) Reeves is now onto the subject of PlayStation Network and user-generated content, which has "captured the imagination" of people, apparently. A "wide variety of titles" will emerge supporting this, he says.
The starter steps for user-generated content are customising your PSN profile and perhaps making a theme, says Reeves. Each registered SingStar user has bought an average of six songs, he says. Guilty. I've had 30, actually. For shame. He's running through how My SingStar Online works. 20,000+ videos uploaded, and he's showing some.
He's moving onto Buzz, and he's excited about sofa-versus-sofa play over the Internet with wireless buzzers and downloadable quizzes. And of course custom quizzes, which you'll be able to set up using the My Buzz website. PSN will allow registrants to export quizzes directly into the Buzz game menu, he says, suggesting we'll see family quizzes and geeky stuff like Star Trek.
Perhaps the best example of user-generated content though, he says, is LittleBigPlanet, due out in October. "The game will include over 50 wonderful environments", but of course the USP is the ability to make your own extras. Now they're showing off some of Media Molecule's efforts, spoofing Killzone. Little Helghast troopers! How cute.
I'm glad we're having really irritating technical problems because it gives me a chance to have that heart attack I've wanted for a while. He's talking about Killzone 2 now, and says it is launching in "February next year". Onto a trailer.
It's similar to the one we saw at the first PS3 E3 all those years ago with an aerial landing craft and lots of wide open vistas and things zooming around in the sky. The leathery graphics of the E3 2007 demo remain. A stunning glimpse to be followed with hands-on once Reeves finishes up.
And now we're onto Resistance 2. He's even brought someone to talk about it. Aha, Ted Price, president of Insomniac Games. "Welcome to London," he says to Ted, who says "thank you". R2 will "focus equally on four areas" - community, campaign, co-op and competitive.
He wants to talk about all four, bless. MyResistance.net will be completely revamped, adding "the kind of social features you'll find in sites like FaceBook". Wicked. This stuff will be tightly integrated with the game. He's not going to show the Campaign, he says, but this time we focus on Hale as he heads home to the USA.
We're going to learn more about Hale and the Chimera and where they came from (so probably not "a joke shop"). Eight-player co-op has its own story, characters and their own progression, rewards etc. Today though, we're going to talk about Competitive. "Six months away from appearing on shelves," he reminds us.
Video. Woody sort of town with canopies overhead. Players racing through the streets, giant Chimeran craft in the sky. "Work in progress" is stamped on the screen as a bloke with a sort of shield bubble thing walks past. There's a man with a mini-gun, some Iron Sights action and a GPS-looking thing in the top corner.
Graphically that was a bit shonky, but to be fair it clearly hadn't been lit properly and Price said it was a work in progress. Chimera will be in multiplayer too, he says, although we didn't get to see them today. He's now acknowledging that 60-player support needs intimacy to actually work. "Battles within battles." Five smaller skirmishes between squads will take place in each 60 person fight.
Every squad is assigned dynamic objectives. They want to keep squads apart to avoid situations where people tread on each other's toes, and they're conscious of the opposite becoming a problem, too. "There are always five or six players for whom you develop an intense hatred," says the otherwise friendly-looking Price.
A reward system will give out bonus points for teamwork, which can be used to earn persistent rewards, to level up, etc. More on that in the next few months. "Bottom line...we think it's going to be breaking new ground for the PS3," he says of competitive action, "but that's just a quarter of the game".
Reeves is back, offering Price a special thanks for turning up at all their events. "Not only that, but he always delivers the games on time," he says. Reevesy moves on to Metal Gear Solid 4, reiterating its 12th June worldwide date. Exclusive MGS4 bundle will be happening - 40GB, but it looks like the regular black PS3, not the fancy silver one, judging by the pack art.
Not sure the kids will like that one, Reevesah. Anyway, onto MotorStorm, the original of which sold more than 3 million copies worldwide. MotorStorm Pacific Rift is of course on-screen now, promising "raw, thrilling off-road racing" in "stunning" environments. Here's Paul Hollywood, the game's creative director. He's "pumped up", according to Reeveso.
MotorStorm's great because it's "brutal" and the player is always at the centre of it, Hollywood reckons. Uh-oh, it's no ordinary sequel, apparently. "We've added ultra-aggressive AI", lots of attack manoeuvres, and dangerous and unpredictable events. Such as my internet connection failing constantly.
Hollywood is hamming it up, promising a "dangerous and unpredictable foe" in "the island", which we're seeing from the air. Inspiration came from Hawaii. Bet that was a good research trip. It's got volcanoes, waterfalls, swamps, etc. "This is MotorStorm, so no Hula". And definitely no Elvis.
"The island is now your greatest enemy, challenging you to hack your way through thick vegetation; teeter on the edge of towering cliffs; plough through tropical waters; and escape the deadly volcanic interior." I can do full quotes with Hollywood because he's pausing for effect and FX. We're being shown a pre-alpha, 40 percent complete track - one of the game's 16.
"This is not just a pretty backdrop." It's a Marks & Spencer backdrop? No, but it does have interactive vegetation. It also fights back, apparently, so shrubs will take you down if your vehicle isn't big enough. However, smaller vehicles can follow big ones through vegetation. Water also won't be just a backdrop, and has forces, flows and buoyancy.
Obviously it also provides drag, and cools down the engine temperature a bit like Excite Truck. "And let's not forget, MotorStorm is still a racing game." 20-vehicle races. They're showing it and, again, it's clearly not finished (water interaction with wheels, for instance), but it's still quite handsome, and we're promised lots of unique vehicles too.
A new class: the monster truck! Yay. It's "a climber" as well as a racer, and it can sprint, but cornering is difficult. It's also a predator, fit for crushing smaller vehicles. You're not here just to race, but to bully. There'll be four-player split-screen as well as the usual online, he adds. "This is not Redneck Racing, Baja or Rally."
After an extended version of the CG trailer we all saw before. We can play it today in one- and two-player options, says Hollywood, so we will. "Finally in this section," says Reeves, returning, he'd like to show us a new cutting-edge game. Mirror's Edge, of course.
Sean Decker, EA DICE's general manager is here to show it off. "This platform really allows us to make our vision of what the game is." Good then. He's explaining the game's back-story - about couriers who operate atop buildings in an oppressed city where communication is otherwise monitored. Faith, your leapy heroine, is in trouble, having uncovered a conspiracy.
The European gentleman to my left keeps looking at my loud clacky keyboard grumpily. If he does it too many more times I'm going to smash his head in using a unique first-person perspective for all my actions as an homage to Mirror's Edge. Now we're getting an in-game ME trailer, which will be on PSN later this week in high definition.
Ah Mirror's Edge. Very blue and pretty. Cutlack would love it. And the red which guides you through the city by hinting at interactive objects. Good use of pigeons there. Some sort of fire engine glimpsed on the ground. A yellow wall, lots of glass. No obvious motorbikes, however.
Kicking and shooting as Faith dives around, but you won't spend the whole game doing that, as you may remember, since running around carrying guns impedes movement. The music's very nice, too. "Ladies and gentleman I give you Mirror's Edge," says Decker, actually giving us Reevesy back.
"With the excitement of the Sony-sponsored Champions League reaching its climax," he says, switching to how Sony interacts with sport... we're going to focus on motorsport and football. On the track, GT is "rightly regarded as the world's best driving simulator". A Dutch man behind me says "no" quietly.
It's already sold over 1.5 million copies in PAL territories, though, Dutch-man. So there. And racing is more than a game, says Reeves. "For a true PlayStation experience, we need more" than GT TV, he says. A collaboration with Nissan, he's announcing a competition of some sort.
We're getting the "ultimate competitive driving test", the Nissan GT Academy. The prize is for two people to get a four-month real-life racing tutorial followed by a race in January 2009 - the Dubai 24-hour race.
Weird. We've now got a Nissan exec, who doesn't get a nice on-screen card with his name on it, but he's called something like Simon Spry. Probably not exactly that. He's a talking press release so far. Ah good, a GT Racing Academy video. WITH LOUD MUSIC.
So far it looks like normal GT5 Prologue, but with video of real-life racing in-between. Great. Launching May 23rd on PSN, he says. I expect they'll clarify all that in a press release. "Every round of the GT Academy will be filmed and made available on the PlayStation Network," says the returning Reevesy, and they're going to take a few journos along to report. Pick me!
He's talking about Sony's involvement with FIFA on the Interactive World Cup. There's some video of famous footballers like Shrek and Reevesy is on about the tournament itself, which has been reduced to 32 finalists from over 25,000 participants, and will be decided in Berlin soon.
"It will not have escaped your attention that earlier this year Blu-ray emerged as the key winner in the next-generation disc battle. This was due principally to the large number of PS3s in the market," he says. There are over 5 million European Blu-ray devices, he says. And he's moving onto BD LIVE. This is going to revolutionise something or other that I missed while I was rebooting my net conn.
Someone from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment is here. "Thanks to PlayStation's support, Blu-ray software sales in Europe are approaching 3.5m." So there are more Blu-ray devices than disc sales? Well anyway, 1.4m this quarter. More than 34m homes in Western Europe have HDTVs now too, he says, as someone breaks stuff loudly off-stage.
The first BD LIVE titles were Walk Hard and The 6th Day, and over 20 percent of people who bought those in the first week activated the BD LIVE services, he says. On 16th June, we'll get our first BD LIVE-enabled disc outside US, with Men In Black in "selected international markets".
Now we're getting a video of what BD LIVE is, because it's "changing the way that you watch movies". Spider-Man 3 will have it, apparently. It's got bookmark features for saving favourite scenes, and a "Blu meter" for showing you where you are in the film as you skip around. Close Encounters of the Third Kind will do it too and The Water Horse. There's a Water Horse Virtual Pet.
Baron Munchhausen will have pop-up trivia. Men In Black will have "a fortune-telling Frank the Pug". You can compete in some sort of quiz against friends. Walk Hard will let you download bonus content not available on the disc. Vantage Point will let you change POV and has picture-in-picture GPS tracker.
Sounds like a load of old cock to me, but then I don't believe in the future. I still watch videos in SD and don't have any hats made out of the wool of cats. Our Blu-ray friend is done, and Reeves returns. His name was Simon too, apparently! Thanks Dave.
He's going to announce more details on "Go! View", Sony's joint venture with Sky. It launches on 30th June and is the "first official video download service for the PSP of its kind in Europe". It will have movies and TV content. It will be available as a subscription model or on a pay-per-view basis. Now we're getting a video demo.
Five simple steps, apparently. Choose what you want to watch, download it to your PC, transfer it to the PSP, watch it whenever you want. That was four steps. Five is presumably "delete it when it expires". There'll be sport, such as football and rugby. More info at www.gopspgo.co.uk apparently. It's just for PSP in the UK, but it will also launch "on the continent" next month.
"It's also no secret that we'd like to launch a similar service on PS3...so watch this space."
Media Server Capability is the subject of Dave's next, er, subject. Because, did you know, you can stream stuff from your PC to your PS3 in the living room. Now he's on about social gaming, and he claims Sony "kickstarted this social revolution" with EyeToy and Dance Dance Revolution. Did you.
"Then we took it further with the likes of SingStar and latterly Buzz." SCEE sales of EyeToy - 6.7m, SingStar - 12m, Buzz! - 6 million. Sony's strategy for the PS2 stuff has been to expand and increasingly localise, and he reckons this worked well, with localisation into 14 languages.
We'll find many titles on the show floor reflecting this, he says, including EyeToy Play Heroes, which even comes with a toy sword. Pom Pom Party is "for those girls with a passion for pom pom shaking". Finally in this section, echochrome. Our review's up tomorrow. Will we like it?
"Echochrome has been described as a 20th century Rubik's Cube," Reeves reckons. We'll see. With a video. Of a man and a woman being lifestyle in a lounge, suggesting things to each other. Ooh, she's taken out her PSP while he plays on the PS3. There are people in pink body suits rolling an apple around whitewashed Ikea furniture.
I think he may have said "21st century Rubik's Cube," since that would actually make sense. Anyway, "there you have it, echochrome, it is fiendishly addictive". Moving on again to SingStar, the "musical introduction to PlayStation, combining as it does [singing, showing off and vomiting]".
Now he's praising Guitar Hero and Rock Band for broadening the music game market. Sony has undertaken a Europe-wide search for up and coming music talent, under the banner of "Movement", which will introduce PS3 owners to "some great new unsigned acts" from across the continent. The presenters Spencer and Martin will be touring in a VW Combi. Brilliant.
Here's a sneak peak of the first leg of their road trip. They're singing. "Two guys in a camper van / Driving round Europe in a camper van". I reckon, if I really try, I can sever my jugular vein using a Bluetooth USB key. At least the music is alright, assuming you like stuff from now, and don't instinctively hate everything that isn't by Belle & Sebastian or other effeminate rockers.
Reeves is now talking up PlayTV. It launches in September and will retail at EUR 99. Someone drops something. A key focus is to deliver a high level of connectivity, says Dave. Every programme recorded on the PS3 hard drive can be exported to the XMB and stored there with other videos.
Any content can be watched using Remote Play he says, as everyone wonders if they've sorted out the watching-at-the-same-time-as-gaming thing. He doesn't say, just moves on to Go!Explore, which launched in a few European territories last week. It's a state-of-the-art sat-nav system, doncha know.
Lots of extra content can be had from the PC Store for PSP. "Starting in the summer, you can expect to see electronic versions of classic UMD titles for download directly to your PSP." Somewhat ill-advisedly, they illustrate this with box art for Gran Turismo 4 Mobile, which has never been released.
He's referring back to his speech at Leipzig last year. It was good for me too, Dave. He reckons they've delivered on promises made last year, where they predicted sales of 4m units in their region, having hit over 5m. This can be "attributed to the quality of software that we are launching". "And now with exclusive titles such as Haze, LBP, Resistance, MotorStorm, customers are buying into PS3 as the ultimate gaming system".
Over 3.2 million registrants on the European PSN, he says, having downloaded over 57m items from the PlayStation Store. He says he very much looks forward to reporting back at what he "hopes will become now an annual event". "The future we believe is looking very bright for PlayStation, so without further ado I think I should let you all go and explore the fantastic games."
"So please ladies and gentlemen, go ahead and play." That's it. Sorry for the occasional tech problem, guys.