4:52 - Sony's only playing the music out of a few front speakers. It fills the cavernous stage, but we know that once the actual presentation starts they'll switch on the hidden speakers and crank the bass to 11 for chest-thumping, hair-raising 5.1 sound that'll move this audience whether they want to be moved or not. Lights have been dimmed! As predicted, the music's been taken from 5 to 7.
4:54 - First up on stage, Kaz Hirai, President & CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment America. "Please accept my apologies for the delay in getting started this afternoon. Just one year ago we unveiled plans for PS3. PS3 is not an incremental upgrade. PS3 is a very powerful machine ... In essence the real power rests in the hands of the content consumer. We want freedom. We want choice. We wanted to be entertained in new and unique ways."
4:55 - Kaz looks so darn tiny down there on the stage. We're up here in nosebleed territory. "Seamlessly interacts with the PlayStation family. PS3 is the best of breed of computer entertainment platform ... It requires huge financial investments. But we must take risks to reap rewards. The essence of PS3 is real change and comsumers are ready. The next generation doesn't start until we say it's time."
4:57 - Did Kaz just say that PlayStation 3 is the "best of breed" computer entertainment platform? Will gamers really react to businessy terms? Well, no matter, they're just tossing out buzzwords to see which ones will stick to the wall. "We would not be able to achieve greatness without a strong foundation. PS2 install base continues to grow worldwide ... Global total of 103.69 million units." Kaz's presentation is typical: we're covering all of the PlayStation 2 performance records: 23.3 million hardware shipped in Japan/Asia. North amercia 42m. europe 38.6m units. Total 103.7 units. additional 10m units to be shipped.
4:59 - "We have amassed more than 3 million registered [online] users ... We want to remind everyone that PS2 will continue to make significant contributions. We have an amazing linuep of titles." Lists ATV Offroad Fury 4, Destroy All Human 2, Dirge of Cerberus, Dragon Ball Z, Final Fantasy XII, etc.
5:00 - "Outside of E3 consumers can look forward to 216 new PS2 titles by the year's end ... Why did you wait so long to enter [portable market]? And why now? ... It's about the ability to offer the right product structure and the right time. We delivered on the process." Looking out over the audience, there's a sea of video camera LCDs flickering back at us -- videos of this event should be plentiful on the net afterwards. PSP Hardware shipments: Japan/Asia 4.7m, North America 6.4 m. europe/pal 5.94m. total 17.03m. FY06 forecast 12 million units to ship.
5:01 - "PSP is fastest selling platform in the company's history. That's almost 1 million units for each month of its life. We are closing in on 50 million units of software shipped worldwide. We estimate an additional 155 titles will be added"
5:02 - Trailer: World Soccer 2, Planet PSP: Interactive City Guide (working title), Gangs of London, Ape Academy 2. "Let Planet PSP be your guide." Killzone Liberation, B-Boy (breakdancing game), Loco Roco (of course ...).
5:04 - TalkMan trailer shows multinational folks talking into a PSP -- it's almost as if the game is translating for them. Greatest hits announced for PSP - Ape Escape: On the Loose, ATV, Hot Shots Open Tee, Wipeout. The PSP trailer is impressive, generating some polite applause from the audience, but we get the feeling that we're being set up for some 1080p videos that make the PSP trailer look, like, so last-gen. It's a classic sales setup. Wait for it ... wait for it ...
5:05 - "More than 670 non-game UMD titles have been produced." So Kaz is still covering the PSP: talking about UMD titles produced, firmware upgrades, the web browser, video, audio, and "improved content protection." "The most recent update 2.7 added 2 great new features. The RSS channel and Macromedia Flash support. Later we plan to add RSS video, GPS, and VoIP." PSP will include "Memory Stick Boot," voice over IP, network support this winter via firmware updates.
5:07 - We're being shown a video now with a bunch of young, cool folks filmed on the streets of New York City, London, Sidney, Cape Town, Tokyo, Mexico City, etc. A british dude in New York City waxes excited about the "hard plastic" and "knobby bits" on the PS2 controller. The Tokyo video includes subtitled shots of Japanese people, one who says, "When I play games, I become a monkey!"
5:10 - Light applause after the man-on-the-street trailer. It wasn't all that hot, but it was a nice touch mean to get across the fact that this is a youth-oriented company. PS3 features and benefits: Powered by Cell. CD, DVD, Blu-Ray disc. Bluetooth, WiFi, ethernet. Dolby Digital Surround Sound. Legacy SD to full HD support (1080p). wireless controller, up to seven player, pre-installed HDD. USB, Memory Stick, SD, Compact Flash. gigabit ethernet cord, removable hard drive
5:12 - PS3 will support HD output at 1080i definition ... a level of sophisticaiton and reality that has never been experienced." PSP interopability with PS3 via network, memory stick, USB. "BluRay is a next generation format supported by major studios. Five of the six major Holywood studios are supporting BluRay."
5:13 - Blu-Ray slide -- obligatory comparison showing how the Blu-Ray disc just destroys other discs in the category of storage. Kaz makes the comparison to the launch of DVD to suggest that Blu-Ray will allow the content creation community the ability to transcent hardware limits and bring their imaginations to life. So, all that other stuff you've done before Blu-Ray? That was totally unimaginative. Creativity starts now! Every PS3 system will ship with a HD drive. THAT'S KEY.
5:15 - As previously announced in March, we're set to launch the PS3 simultaneously around the world in major territories this November. PS3 development systems slide: largest number of systems ever shipped, more than 10,000 to 208 companies in 11 countries, final kits shipping now, 6 months before launch. Some games at e3 are running on those final tools (dev kits). "Today, we will be showcasing playable game titles, which all will be available for you to play at our booth. Kaz said the magic words: "playable game titles." We're going to get our hands on some PS3 games on the E3 floor.
5:17 - Phil Harrison, President Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios. Phil: "A little under a year ago we shared of vision of hte PS3 format. Our development studioes have been hard at worlk. Today I am proud to share with you the fruits of those labors."
5:18 - Phil's on the stage in a smart suit, obligatory shaved head, no tie. he brings onto the stage his "friend and colleague" Kazunori Yamauchi, President, Polyphony Digital Inc. Kaz (trans): "Good afternoon ... it's an honor to be here as a lead off batter. Today we'd like to show a Grand Turismo prototype: Gran Turismo HD" 1920 x 1080p.
5:19 - Gran Turismo is going at 60 frames per second. So this may be an exaggerated statement, we feel that this is the first time for a household television to display a noncropressed baseband signal. The menu has been designed for HD resolution. Ok, these cars and bikes look hot. Simply hot.
5:22 - As we zoom down the Tokyo track demo, it doesn't appear all that much sharper or higher quality than PGR3. A quick side discussion verifies that it's not just me. The foliage doesn't look so hot. Then again, this is just a demo. It doesn't appear that motion blur has been added in yet, or if it'll even be added to the game.
5:23 - The draw distance isn't that hot either. We can see buildings in the distance pop into view here and there. It's a very attractive racing game, but not heads and shoulders above PGR3, which is our basis for comparison. What you are seeing now is 1920x1080i HD. The is 12 times the resoultion of GT4.
5:25 - In GT4 the average loading time was 10-14 seconds. For GT HD its been optimized for the HDD. So players will be able to maneuver from menu screen to starting a race in 2-3 seconds. Now we're being shown another track: Sarthe. The sound quality is suspect here. The engines sound fantastic: it's like we're sitting in a jet fighter skimming just a foot above the racetrack.
5:26 - There are hints of greatness in the demo: glimpses of polish and speed that indicate that this will be a very, very hot game by the time it's on store shelves. For PS3's sake, we're hoping that the extra development time translates into clear visual distinction versus the Xbox 360's premiere race title.
5:27 - One thing we like here are the clouds in the sky. They look fantastic. Another nice touch: foliage reflected on the car bodies as we race by narrow bits of track. "Lastly, we would like to show another track from the Grand Canyon."
5:30 - We're being shown the Grand Canyon demo track now: the motor on the car that we're driving on sounds very, very different from the previous car that we were driving. One thing that immediately sticks out: dust hasn't been added to this dirt-track course yet. We're treated to a high arial shot of the Grand Canyon. It's breathtaking in scale, and beautifully painted ... but up close crowd animations are stiff. Bodies don't move uniquely.
5:32 - "We will be conducting some beta testing for online play in GT4 ... this is only the beginning: we think the Next GT will easily surpass Gran Turismo HD (which was only upscaled assets from current-gen GT). The world of GT will explode with networking capabilities ... we hope to deliver the next GT not too far from the launch of the PS3."
5:33 - Phil Harrison: "The next demonstartion is actually an interesting combination of three different things. The first is a traditional card based game. Added to that is the power of the PS3." The Eye of Judgment. A card game using the EyeToy. He's sticking his hand under a camera and moving a card from spot to spot -- as he moves the card, the monster hovering over it also moves.
5:34 - This demo is very cool, folks -- this is kind of like the "augmented reality" demo that was circulating around the net over the last year. Phil Harrison has a "boss card" that he places on the screen. The boss is a rubber ducky. Hah hah hah! The game will be on demo on the E3 floor: "Come to booth and try out game."
5:35 - Basic ommunity services slide: "Our goal is to create an environment that is more than just a place to play games. These basic services will be offered to PlayStation users free of charge ... our goal it to create a virtual society -- or a community. These basic services will be offered to PS users free of charge." Bite-size, or big portions, anytime or anywhere for all types of entertainment content
5:39 - What can the users expect? The e-distribution of PlayStation connect playable on the PSP. PSP users will be able to enjoy the PS titles through emulation technology." E-distribution slide: content server (PSP), archive server (PS older games). You'll be able to download these older titles to a memory stick and run them on the PSP. We have a PSP running one of the first PlayStation titles that was released... [navigiating to the game] ... [loading] ... let's see if you can guess the title ..."
5:40 - "The game is powered by Namco ... it's Ridge Racer! Ahh! This brings back memories ... Just to show you, since its running on a PSP, you can change the screen size."
5:41 - "Another exciting ability is for consumers to make mircotransactions. We will be selling a pre-paid card in various denomination." This is exciting, but there's a little bit of manufactured excitement in this: Ridge Racer will never hold the emotional attachment for gamers that Mario will, and it appears at this moment that Kaz is trying just a bit too hard to talk about how exciting it is to play a really old version of Ridge Racer. "We will be selling a pre-paid card called 'The PlayStation Card' sold in varying demonimations."
5:43 - Back to Phil Harrison: "Gonna show you a quick look at the PS3 interface. This shop interface allows users to purchase various content. This one is dedicated to WarHawk. You are are able to see what's cool, what's hot." It's the whole e-commerce experience. We see a shopping cart, a "what's new" list, and a "top 10 list."
5:44 - Singstar demo: He fires up an HD video that's been overlaid with Karaoke controls and lyrics. It looks like a ton of fun. "What really powers Sing Star is the network. This is where the game really comes to life. We're gonna show you the ability to browse a catalogue of songs ... I'm gonna take you through the networking purchasing system."
5:45 - Now he's showing us an online catalog of songs. He's browsing through an online store -- but they're not telling us the pricing of these songs just yet. Songs show as $0.00. We can see a few features peaking out here: there's a UI element of a "monthly spending limit."
5:46 - "My Singstar online" -- this is allowing you to develop your own profile, to find out who is online, download new content (skins, graphical effects) to personalize your experience, and to add your performances to the network. YouTube bootycams on the PS3. That's the headline right there, folks. It'll be hot if Sony can actually deliver anything nearly as addictive as a late-night romp through YouTube's most popular videos.
5:48 - We're being shown Genji. This game looks impressive. It's got a lot of nice graphical touches. It makes us immediately think of 99 Nights. The weapons, the armor, the moves. Just fewer onscreen enemies, and more outlandish moves.
5:51 - What's interesting about this demo is that it's showing Bill's hands on a controller via picture-in-picture. This is important: PlayStation 3 needed to combat the negativity that followed last year's E3: "But nothing was playable!" The picture-in-picture serves as a constant reminder that the games are playable. Phil: "Now movinf from legendary Japan to realirt 21st century style. We'd like to show you are Formula 1 game with an interesting twist. I'm gonna give you a very special demonstation of a wing mirror. What I have on the PSP is a real time feed of the wing mirror"
5:54 - Onscreen now: Heavenly Sword sequence. Flashy, red-haired babe with sharp weapons, chains, and so on. It's pretty. The sounds are hot. The kills visceral. Bones crunch, kicks liquify internal organs. This game will also be playable on the show floor, and we'll definitely be playing it. What you can see is that this game delivers the most phenominall animation system.
5:58 - Trailer showing games that are "perhaps a little bit further out." First up: Factor 5's Lair. If the game looks anything like the pre-rendered stuff we just saw, the game will be an incredible experience. The best way to describe what this one felt like: the dragon test in the Harry Potter Goblet of Fire movie. Not a lot of flames, but a whole lot of scary dragons. London Studio's Getaway (Team SoHo).
5:59 - AFRIKA: a grazing rhino, birds chattering noisily in a tree, a giraffe, zebra, wildebeasts, all sorts of other animals we should know, but don't. Concludes with a shot of a cheetah and a lion. We're not sure exactly how the game's meant to be played, but the trailer gives a sense that the designers are striving for realism in the National Geographic style.
6:01 - Phil Harrison: "Round of applause, please." Exclusive appearances coming up. A glimpse of some of the future of PS3. It is my great pleasure to share with you two brand new titles for the first time. The first is from our Studio in London." [running video, title is "Eight Days]
6:04 - Eight Days: Lots of guns, lots of gansters, great cinematical lighting effects, massive destruction via a gas tanker. Nothing in this game to challenge the genre of gansters and guns, but certainly a graphical update to a game type that we're all comfortable with. "Next up is a brand new game from a developer who since their first game in 1996 has shipped over 40 million units of software. I'm gonna let the video speak for itself" Shows untitled Naughty Dog game.
6:05 - "I'd like to welcome Mr. Ted Price the Pres. of Insomniac" Ted: "The Resistance: Fall of Man ... let's check it out." Price says "this game is intense." ORLY? Who wouldn't say that about their next-gen game. Let's see the goods, Price.
6:10 - First Resistance is a WWII style shooter in set in the 1950s, but get this -- World War II never happened! Instead, it's clear that aliens arrived to save us from killing ourselves and and to unite humanity behind against a common enemy. That's kind of neat. The mixture of WWII-era guns going up against otherworldly munitions makes the genre fresh. One nice scene in the demo shows a tiny little alien jmping on the back of a human soldier and popping a spike through the back of the soldier's skull. The skull crunches, blood sprays, and the man crumples. The action is intense, so Price delivered. Nice work. Ted: "Just a small taste of what's to come. Keep in mind the game features multiplayer modes featuring 32 players.
6:11 - Phil: "That sums up our playable selection. You can see we are really starting to push the technology. But that's it for me. Thank you very much for your attention." ... but wait a minute. That wasn't all playable. Some of it was, some of it wasn't. Let's just get that straight right now. Phil has left the stage, Kaz Hirai has taken it.
6:14 - Kaz: "Our first party lineup is looking strong. But what about 3rd parties? Let me share with you a collection of 3rd party titles in development: From Ubisoft: Assassin's Creed. Looked HOT. From Bandai Namco -- two words: bot battle. Ridge Racer 7 ... a seventh Ridge Racer? Gee, we never saw that coming. We never thought that we'd see a seventh in the series.
6:17 - Sonic the Hedgehog. It's fast (as always). Speed isn't new, but what is new is the art style here. It looks more grown up, grittier. It's evolved in a good way. Assassin's Creed; Gundam: Mobile Suit; Coded Arms: Assault; Ridge Racer 7; Brothers In Arms: Hell's Highway; Tekken 6; Sonic The Hedgehog; Virtua Tennis 3; Virtua Fighter 5; Stranglehold; Fatal Inertia; Bladestorm; Amored Core 4. Fatal Inertia: available at launch. Cars, without wheels, zooming through canyons and stuff. Feels very Star Wars, but it'll sell, being a launch title and all. Looked shiney and next-gen enough to drop some jaws, but there didn't appear to be anything new in the concept.
6:19 - EA Chairman and CEO Larry Probst takes the stage. Larry: "The special partnership between EA and Sony has never be stronger. This afternoon we want to show you too brief demos. These are works in progress. Let's start with the exec producer of NBA Live ... let me start with a side-by-side comparison of the last and next generation. PS2 vs. PS3."
6:22 - "With procedural awareness we give players personality, attitude, confidence and style. WE are making players that move right. That's why foot planting is so important. No matter what the sport footwork plays a huge role. Now we need to give them full freedom of movement. On the PS3 players have full 360-degree movement. They feel alive. But that's a video, let's see how it's running live." Shows Tracy McGrady vs. Dwayne Wade demo. Procedural awareness demo by EA is hot. As crosshairs move zoom around the air around the player, he follows them with his eyes and with his body. That's why next-gen is important: technology makes these pixelated players believable. It brings us closer to what we're seeing on ESPN. "This is not a video. This is running live on PS3. There it is, NBA Live bringing players to life on the PS3."
6:25 - George Borshikof: "What I'm about to show is technology that will change the way you experience interactive entertainment. For the last two years we have beeb creating UCAP. Joining us today is Tiger Woods. As you can tell UCAP improves gameplay because personality has never been so real." A's Borshikoff is talking about emotional involvement with games. The UCAP demo of Tiger Woods looks great -- but it's not about the polygons, it's about the combination of those polygons combined with pre-captured animations and voice. When it all comes together just right, Tiger comes to life. Larry: "Thanks guy. Those are just two of the games in development for PS3. EA intends to support PS3 with more than 10 titles, including Fight Night, Need for Speed, Army of Two, Medal of Honor Airborne, and Madden."
6:29 - It'll be interesting to compare the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions of these EA titles. Will there be a common-denominator version of the tech that's either upscaled or downscaled for the PS3/Xbox 360 (depending on capability) or will the company actually invest in two significantly different versions of these games? We're betting that the 360 gets exactly the same game, and we're looking forward to the side-by-side comparisons. Kaz: Now we are excited to give you a sneak peak from Square Enix. Take a look at Final Fantasy XIII for the PS3, which will be available in several versions, including Final Fantasy XIII and Final Fantasy versus XIII.
6:31 - "Now we are proud and honored to be able to share this next title from Hideo Kojima. The video you are about to see is already running on the PS3. The concept of this video is: sense. Metal Gear Solid 4 is coming now.
6:33 - Lots of shaky-cam in the GS4 video. Lots of display of military might. This is about setting mood. To show actual gameplay would cheapen the mood that Kojima and crew are trying to build here. Snake shoves the barrel of a gun into his mouth, and there's a loud bang, but we doubt that the old dude actually pulled the trigger. It's all about building excitement, and that it did. Kaz: And now, it wouldn't be a proper E3 without Ken Kutaragi.
6:34 - Kutaragi asks, "Have you enjoyed our latest progress on the PlayStation 3?" The crowd's response is actually kind of weak -- but this is a long press conference and energy's ebbing. WE're hoping that the big secret (the controller) wakes this room back up. Controller up next!
6:35 - ... It's the PS2 controller. "INSIDE THIS BODY we have added powerful and elegant systems.... "
6:36 - Phil Harrison comes out: "It's not what it looks like, it's what it does. Let's switch to the demo, and, clearly a little secret is waiting to be unveiled..." Phil brings out a PSP. It looks like the PS3 controller does some special stuff: demo shows a crate on screen. A little secret is inside the box, banging and asking to be let out.
6:37 - "Now, I want you to watch this very, very carefully ... I life up the controller and it flies. This controller has 6-degrees of freedin using my hands as the entire input device. This standard controller will be packed in with every PS3"
6:38 - The controller's got X-Y-Z, pitch, roll, yaw, lateral motion detection. The controller uses bluetooth and wireless controls. It's lighter than the PS2 controller. This is interesting, because it suddenly makes Microsoft look like the odd man out on the motion-sensing controller front. How will Microsoft respond to the fact that they're the only one of the three that doesn't have a controller that support user input via natural movement of the controller?
6:42 - The Warhawk 3 demo that we're seeing now shows how the controller is used to control the motion of the on-screen fighter jet. The link between on-screen movement and controller movement is tight. Dylan Jobe says, "It marks an interesting moment for us. It allows us to change from static control mechanics to very kinetic control mechanics. As a developer and a gamer I'm incredibly excited about this..."
6:43 - "Today we're pleased to announce the global PS3 launch details. We will make PS3 available via a two-configuration plan. One with a 60GB HD. And the other with a 20GB hard drive. Japan's date: Nov. 11. In Japan 59,800 Yen. The 60GB PS3 will have an open price which retailers will set. In North America: 20GB for $499, 60GB for $599. Europe has 20GB for 499 Euro, 60GB for 599 Euro. 2 million to ship worldwide during the launch window. 4 million by end of calendar year 2006. By March 31, 2007 they'll have shipped 6 million worldwide.
6:45 - Kaz: "Thank you very much and have a great show"
6:49 - Long list of developers scrolls by. There's no question that this console will be well-supported by first- and third-party developers. What are the big questions leaving here?
1. Will consumers buy it with such a big price tag?
2. How will Microsoft respond to Sony's announcement that the PS3 contorller supports motion-sensing technology?
3. Will Sony be able to deliver on those shipment projections?
4. Will those beautiful demos look nearly that good once they've been made playable? How much of that graphical sex appeal will be lost in translation from trailer to Blu-Ray disc?
And we're done. We'll be cleaning up this post and adding more pictures, but in the meantime thank you for joining us, and be sure to check out our coverage of Nintendo and Microsoft's press conferences tomorrow!