House building a platform with architect Mark - from ps4 to Vita TV
This little blog entry is just a look back to the very first words spoken 6 months ago when opening the ps4 press conference in the context of today's Vita TV announcement. I'm not promising any cutting insight into what was said today or back then, just pointing out what I find interesting and, above all, highly reassuring as the PlayStation family expands.
With today's announcement of the rather surprising PlayStation Vita TV at SCEJA's press conference, once I'd gotten over the shock of what is essentially a new PlayStation home console/media device and had a little time to think about what we saw before us, I was reminded of some things Andrew House said back at the ps4 announce in February... something about Vita having power, potential and connectivity. Before today I'd assumed that simply meant remote play of ps4 on Vita - that just made sense. So I went back to check out what Mr. House actually said when he opened the presser just to settle my curiosity. I'll also point out that I also continued watching for a little while longer to re-live Mark Cerny's eloquent unveiling of the ps4 platform, the controller and the basics of the hardware design and ethos itself. Even though that has little relevance, it's interesting to see that again just 6 months on so see how rock-solid their messaging has been regarding ps4. However, the plan was to remind myself of how Andrew House opened proceedings February 20th in New York:
"Today marks a moment of truth and a bold step forward for PlayStation as a company, as creators and innovators and as industry leaders. At Sony we've always talked about our entire portfolio of technology and content, blockbuster titles and successful entertainment franchises. Today we'll show you how we're strengthening the PlayStation ecosystem through hardware, software and network capabilities that, when unified, create truly magical experiences that can only be found in our world."
So already, in the first few sentences, House was already beginning to tell us about a new and exciting connected PlayStation universe, at the time it just didn't promise to be as far-reaching as it is turning out to be. He continued:
"We'll show you how we're making access to our content and experiences, social interactions and titles, vastly more simplified and streamlined. We'll show you the many ways in which the living room is no longer the centre of the PlayStation ecosystem - the gamer is. With the gamer as the focal point for our efforts, we've created a platform attuned to consumer's changing behaviours and an evolving sense of play."
Along with many watching, these opening words maybe didn't really hit home at the time. It is interesting to note how PlayStation's focus was no longer a "battle for the living room" as many had claimed the 7th generation was - here we saw a focus shift to everything being all about and revolving around the gamer. This came in stark contrast to Microsoft's Xbox One reveal some time later, a device most definitely rooted and aiming to be central to all things "living room" with it's camera peripheral and cable box interactivity with perhaps too little emphasis paid to the gamer initially.
It seems that at this early point, way back in February, PlayStation was organised, focussed and filled with belief about the ways they saw console gaming going forward. Many commentators had said console gaming was done for and that there was only a niche future for such closed platforms, but with PlayStation's policies regarding indies and embracing true free-to-play games and their willingness to provide a platform that was much more developer-friendly compared with the obtuse ps3 architecture, it's clear they had their plan in place and believed in it. Sony's idea of an 8th generation machine wasn't simply about better graphics and more of everything. So if it wasn't just about more shiny and everything turned up to 11, what more was there to their vision? House continued...
"Ease of access, regardless of location or device, has been an absolute priority. With mobility and the ability to share content and experiences becoming an increasingly important part of the gaming experience, connectivity between devices and the ease with which they connect has been essential to meeting the demands of today's casual or core gamer. Our vision for the future is consumer-centric, developer-inspired, and characterised by an unwavering commitment to phenomenal play experiences. These experiences can happen on a console or hand-held device and we're meeting the demand for mobility with the most powerful hand-held gaming system ever created - PlayStation Vita."
Personally, I was awake late into the night and the last thing I wanted to hear about from PlayStation was more about the Vita. I owned one, it looked and played great and I believed how powerful they said it was because I'd already seen it first hand, but this social interactivity and connectivity stuff? We had remote play on ps3 with PSP and it wasn't all that great and smart phones and facebook are nothing I'm interested in - I just wanted to hear about the next home console! Not being a big fan of online multi-player I'd never considered the social aspects or potential for gaming and to be honest I didn't really want to hear about it now, it just seemed like the usual stuff these people say.
"In fact, the OS and chip-set inside PlayStation Vita is so powerful, we think it could bring significant value to gamers' living room experiences. We know the potential for expanding PlayStation Vita to the living room is real and promises to deliver amazing gameplay and multi-media. We'll be talking more about this exciting initiative later this year, but it's safe to say, we'll continue to unlock PlayStation Vita's potential."
I don't know how many people picked up on this at the time or dismissed it, as I did, as being nothing more than reiterating the hints of more remote play or cross-play possibilities of ps4 and Vita. Maybe they were simply hoping to sell a few more Vitas off the back of the ps4 somehow by reminding people of its existence in front of a huge captive audience?
But read that back now or watch the presentation again, in the context of today's reveal, and it all falls into place. It highlights how well Sony PlayStation have their act together - that this is and was their plan all along. That a delayed ps4 release in Japan due to localisation and producing territory-specific launch titles would require time but that something as amazing as Vita TV could offset this handily in a region that has taken to the Vita itself more than any other.
So that's a whole lot of text to allow me to basically just emphasise the point that Sony PlayStation seems to be in very safe hands. The way they are moving forward with such a connected and holistic over-arching framework of devices all tied together through PSN and ps+ - it's highly reassuring and promising when looking to the future. To know that there is a plan, that it makes sense, that it is being executed point by point and that we've probably not even seen the final pieces of the puzzle yet. All in stark contrast to back-tracking, reversals, ambiguity and frankly appalling messaging elsewhere.