When 2012 is all said and done Sony will have released three games starring Sackboy, the nondescript hessian bag of fluff and ice cream who made his name in Media Molecule's ground-breaking create-your-own platformer LittleBigPlanet.
Yesterday Sony launched a new, lighter, slimmer PlayStation 3 just in time for Christmas. The PlayStation 3 super slim, or the super duper slim as Bertie called it during our live report of Sony's Tokyo Game Show press conference last week, comes in two flavours in the UK: a mammoth 500GB edition (out now) and a teeny tiny 12GB edition (out 12th October). Sony doesn't set the price of its hardware in the UK (more on that later), but shops are live now with their offers (GAME has the exclusive on the PS3 500GB FIFA 13 bundle for Ł250).
But why has Sony revised the PS3 hardware yet again? And let's not forget the PS Vita, which by all accounts has sold terribly since its February launch. How's that doing? When will Sony cut the price? And what about those bigger memory cards? And where's 3D gaming gone? Sony used to love that. Now it's on the down-low. And what about the Wii U? How will Nintendo's new console impact PlayStation?
Armed with these questions we spoke with Sony UK boss Fergal Gara at Eurogamer Expo to get answers.
Sony's cards are on the table at last. All six of them, in fact, as part of the WAAR (wide area augmented reality) feature Vita developers have been banging on about recently, with the console able to register up to six cards at once to create fancy AR experiences on the fly.
"It was probably all a terrible mistake..."
In Digital Foundry's last Saturday feature before the onslaught of E3, we talk to one of Media Molecule's tech masterminds, Alex Evans, about the origins of the company's association with Sony and how they got to grips with unique PlayStation 3 architecture.
Nobody could accuse of Media Molecule of cynicism. LittleBigPlanet's introduction has the ever-reassuring Stephen Fry refer to Planet Earth as "an orb of dreams", inhabited by creatures boasting "vast imaginations" that are "charged with creative energy". The scriptwriters have obviously never watched Jeremy Kyle or spent an evening down our local Wetherspoons, else they'd be more likely to characterise humanity as being "vastly cretinous" and "charged with GBH".
First things first, apologies if you were disappointed, having read our Eurogamer Expo preview on Monday, to discover that the MotorStorm: Pacific Rift vehicle outside the Expo entrance was a monster truck instead of a Humvee. We are also sorry that so many of you missed the chance to touch Bertie's moustache, which endures even now atop the sweater-clad granite torso and arms of news-typing sultriness.
I'd like to bring you better news about the tomato-sauce rocket, but I'm afraid I can't. The team spent hours crafting it, nursing it through that eleventh-hour transformation from mayonnaise to ketchup (the switch was made "in case the mayonnaise coming out the end gives people the wrong idea" in the words of our star designer), building it out of polystyrene so that it was light enough to take to the skies but still allowed Sackboy to cling onto it for the ride, and finally constructing, one at a time, the hamburger buns that would cushion its landing.
Who would have thought, with all the marketing millions and pretensions of cool behind Sony's PlayStation 3, that its most iconic characters in 2008 could end up being a nicotine-loving geriatric in skin-tight latex and a doll made out of burlap cloth? The geriatric, at least, was something we expected. The sack doll? Not so much.
Soft-spoken Media Molecule co-founder Alex Evans is showing off LittleBigPlanet to a roomful of press, and we're stood behind him blowing raspberries and wailing. Obviously. He doesn't seem to mind. Five minutes in, he asked if anyone wanted to play along, and inexplicably we were the only people to put our hands up (both of them, while hopping up and down). So now we're cycling the Sackboy emotes with the d-pad and using the DualShock 3 tilt function to angle our puppet avatar's head so he's watching his dad.
At one point in our demonstration of LittleBigPlanet, someone asks a simple question about the physical interaction of the materials you can use to create stuff in its sticky-back-plastic platform-game world. It's answered, wordlessly, by level designer Dan Leaver. In a minute or two, he creates a constellation of blocks of concrete, wood and sponge hanging in mid-air. Then he exits edit mode - effectively un-pausing the game - and they crash to earth convincingly, tumbling, bouncing and squashing each other.
Shooters and sports games. RPGs and racers. Strategy and simulation, action and adventure. The lines may blur but for the most part you know where you are with these. If a game's got guns, cars, football or wizards, it's easy to see where it fits.
Sony hasn't had the easiest ride of late. Giant enemy crabs. Riiiiiidge Racer. The price. The European delay. The backward compatibility issue. Executives saying daft things. It all adds up to massive damage to its reputation.