It’s nearly 11pm. I should be getting ready to go to bed. Instead I’m waiting to watch the Sony Future conference, to see the unveiling on the PS4.
I’m well prepared. I have a drink and some food to keep me going through what could be an hours long presentation. My laptop is plugged in, my dogs put to bed and I’ve got the official Sony livestream page open and ready half an hour before launch as I prepare my notes. How bad could it be?
Before the show started, the video stream was simply looping the same bit of meaningless teaser with the Playstation symbols. But there was no sound. The sound was on my laptop right? I checked in iTunes. Yeah, it was. On the web? Yeah, Youtube works. Ok, there’s no sound. There needs to be sound.
Two minutes before sound kicks in. Phew. At 11pm a video starts. It’s fast paced, with upbeat music. Sony didn’t build a box. It’s telling me about how cool the Playstation is, how it changed things, how I like the Playstation. We were born different. I am the Playstation. I feel like I’m in a crap rave. We are all the Playstation. Worship the Playstation.
A man comes onto the stage. Is he the Playstation? No, he is just the pawn of the Playstation. He wears a suit (I’m not wearing a suit) and talks in strange words. He talks of personalisation, synergy, connectivity, consumer-inspired, multi-dimensional and eco-systems. His words are empty, like cardboard boxes.
The feed stalls. The sound cuts and the screen goes black. I try to reload it, but the page isn’t coming back. Frantically I search around on the net to find another site hosting it. The official Playstation community page? Not loading. IGN? Stream offline. Gamespot? Stream offline. I end up on DigitalVersus.com They are my saviour. I have never heard of them.
A different man is on stage. A man with dead, soulless eyes. He talks in a patronising, simmering voice about the PS3. It was the top device for Netflix, he scoffs. He was happy, but not. The PS4 is coming. He asked people to help, but couldn’t tell them about it. He talks in technobabble. There is 8gb of unified memory. Do I know what unified memory is? It sounds like RAM. People like RAM, right? He holds up the Dual Shock 4. It’s a Dual Shock 3 with a plate over the front. People feel compelled to clap. It has a light bar, to show which player is which. There’s a small touch pad on the front. I wonder why. It isn’t explained. The PS4 has GDR5 system memory, he boasts. On a primal level, I am impressed. I am scared.
A demo is shown. Thousands of blue blocks fall into a virtual town. It doesn’t look like a fun game. The dead-eyed man is almost sexually aroused with enthusiasm.
He shows a game he’s been working on. Jennifer Hale is voicing it. That seems right. Safe. Familiar. It’s clearly all FMV. Knack, it’s called. Knackers, it will be called.
The dead-eyed man talks of more features. “Consumer orientated with a premium placed on functionality and ease of use.” Why wouldn’t it be consumer orientated? It’s for consumers. He talks about a new feature, where you can stop what you’re playing and have the console instantly reload it at that point when you return. They’ve developed the pause function. There’s scattered applause.
The console can update itself and games while it’s turned off. This does not sound like a good thing. When it’s turned off, I want it to be turned off, not conniving in the background.
You play games while they download, the man exclaims. This doesn’t sound practical. If you can play a game with only a few percent of it downloaded, what is the rest for? What if I try to get to the bits it doesn’t have? “Instantaneous” is spoken, but it all depends on your internet connection, surely.
He talks about the share button on the controller (it’s by the too-small touch pad, so you’re sure to accidentally hit). If you press it, it brings up a screen that has instant recall of everything you’ve been playing, because it’s been documenting you. You can instantly edit and upload videos of your gameplay, you exhibitionist whore.
You can watch what other people are playing as they play it. YOU CAN BLOODY SPY ON PEOPLE AS THEY PLAY GAMES. Christ, not only that you can send them messages and REMOTELY TAKE CONTROL! How is this considered a good thing? Who thought this feature up? Sony is making Skynet.
They plug integration with social networks. Now your Facebook feeds will be full of unwanted information about people using their PS4s. They plug Ustream, the people failing to competently live-stream this event.
Apps. Apps for phones, apps for tablets. Apps for everything. You can take the PSN with you everywhere. Never leave behind the PSN. You can never escape the PSN.
‘The system can get to know you’ the man proclaims. I see now, he is a tool of the machines. He is their slave. He is the man whose genius outstrips his morality, who creates a beautiful apocalypse. The PS4 can tailor itself to your interests. It can show adverts you prefer. It can download things it thinks you will like. IT CAN DOWNLOAD GAMES WITHOUT YOUR KNOWLEDGE.
Dave Perry is brought on. A memory of GamesMaster jumps into my head. Oh, it’s a different Dave Perry. Never realised that before. Alt-Perry talks more about personalisation and assumption. Instant demos. Press share to livestream yourself playing games to no-one.
You can now shift what you’re playing from the PS4 to your PSVita (assuming you’re one of the twelve people who has a Vita). That doesn’t sound like a good thing. You’re tethering the PS4 to the Vita in terms of functionality, you fool!
We see Knack running. It looks ok. Nothing spectacular. Casually, amongst the buzzwords and corporate talk, they mention that the PS4 is not backwards compatible. History is bunk. The Future is now. The Future is PS4.
Another man appears to say synergy twice in as many sentences. I rue not coming up with a drinking game, before remembering I don’t drink. Why don’t I drink? I should be drinking.
Finally, they start to talk about some games. They show ten minutes of the latest Killzone. It’s pretty but bland. A man hangs from a helicopter in the most mundane fashion possible.
A man talks about Drive Club. It’s been in development for ten years. Yeah, that’s an encouraging sign. You couldn’t have made a game in ten years? No, only now is it possible to make a game where you drive in teams, apparently. The game is a car anorak’s dream. They’ve done textures right down to the suede on the car seats. I wonder why they bother, but immediately feel guilty.
A man comes on and starts talking about how many security cameras there are in Britain. How often the US look at people’s phone records. How often your privacy is infringed. I wonder if anyone’s mentioned to him that those are most of the selling points of the unseen PS4. He introduces a game (eventually). Second Son. It’s just FMV. I’m thoroughly whelmed.
The guy who made Braid appears and talks about a puzzle game. My stream starts to break again, but from what I can tell, it’s just going round a small village doing identical looking puzzles.
Quantic Dream shows off the most impressive looking CGI man I’ve ever seen. I wonder how they’ll waste it.
Media Molecule turns up to talk about 3D modelling. They mention the Move controller, which is apparently still a thing. They’re using it to make 3D models. The footage is all tinkered with, to look better than it is. He shows a real-time animation done with Move controllers, but I’m still sceptical. It looks faked.
It’s been 90 minutes. It feels like 900.
Capcom spend a day and an age talking about all the games they’ve made for the various Playstations. What do they want, a medal? They show off Deep Down, which looks pretty good. It runs on Panty Raid, their new graphics engine. I fear I’ve got the name wrong, but I don’t want to be right. They tease Street Fighter. I think. I may have hallucinated that. I’m so tired. I want to tell my family I love them, but they’re all asleep.
Square-Enix arrive and show off a thing. My connection’s so bad it’s like a slideshow. I don’t think it’s actually a game anyway. Casually, a guy mentions that Final Fantasy is coming out by the end of the year. Way to bury the lead there.
Ubisoft show Watch Dogs. From the few blurry stills the stream gives me, it looks good.
Then Blizzard arrive. They make jokes. Well, one joke. It’s almost funny. They remind me that they made Lost Vikings. A man cheers. The Blizzard man breaks with all the corporate bull (he’s in a leather jacket) and talks like a real person, or at least what I remember a real person to be. He teases Blizzard’s first console game in years. It’s Diablo 3. I shrug.
Activision arrive to waffle. Aren’t they also Blizzard? Apparently not. They introduce a video package about Bungie’s new game. I struggle to care. They then introduce yet more people from Bungie, who stand awkwardly on the stage like schoolkids at an assembly. They say vague things about their vague game. It has ‘exclusive content for the PS3.’ So it’s out on the new XBOX as well, they just can’t say. It’s ok Bungie men, I understand you.
And suddenly, two hours in, it’s over. The PS4 is coming Holiday 2013. They don’t say which. Holiday 2013. Prepare yourselves. The PS4 is coming for you and your children.