On a fine day in London, close to a thousand journalists from across Europe assembled at the indigO2 in London for a glimpse of the future of PlayStation.
In front of the assembled masses, Kaz Hirai, President of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc, reinforced the PlayStation mission to focus on "games, games and more games" before hailing the future of PlayStation as a "harmonious marriage between games and communities".
While accepting that the past year had been a difficult one for PlayStation, Kaz pointed to the arrival of key titles in 2008 such as LittleBigPlanet, Resistance 2, MotorStorm Pacific Rift and Buzz!: Quiz TV, as well as Metal Gear Solid 4 and Haze as reasons to be cheerful.
Kaz provided an update on the much anticipated PlayStation Home, revealing that the product is due to launch in the autumn once development is complete.
"I said at the Tokyo Game Show that I would not open up Home until I was completely happy with it and I still stand by that statement," Kaz said. "We have been testing Home for some time and I simply feel that, as great as it currently is, it needs a little bit more time before it is ready for the wider public, something we firmly believe we can provide in the autumn."
Before moving back to David Reeves, President of SCEE, Kaz highlighted the "global networked community" that will drive PlayStation forward, and confirmed that "recognising these interests and passions...will shape our business as much as our products."
It was then over to David Reeves for a hosted tour of the world of PlayStation, starting off with Creation, "something that makes PlayStation truly unique". A brand new video of LittleBigPlanet drew admiring applause, while a compilation of user generated videos on My SingStar Online demonstrated some of the highlights from the 20,000 odd videos that have been uploaded to the service since its launch.
A trio of guest appearances brought the next section, which covered the areas of Clan and Intense Action, to life. Ted Price, President of Insomniac Games, revealed some of the exciting new multiplayer modes coming in Resistance 2; Paul Hollywood, Creative Director of Evolution Studios, introduced the brutal, unpredictable island at the heart of MotorStorm Pacific Rift; and, Sean Decker, of EA developer DICE, introduced a video for exciting new PS3 title Mirror's Edge. In addition, David Reeves announced that SCEE will be supporting the forthcoming release of Metal Gear Solid 4 by producing an exclusive bundle.
The next section, Sport, contained one of the big announcements of the evening as, with the support of Simon Sproule from Nissan, David Reeves revealed details of GT Academy. Described as "the ultimate racing contest", GT Academy is "a pan-European competition spanning seven months, [in which] virtual and real-life racing will come together to make the wildest dreams of two aspiring young race drivers come true. The prize: a four-month training programme to earn their racing licenses followed by a real-life race driving a Nissan 350Z as part of the official Nissan team at the 24-hour Dubai race in January 2009."
In the section on Film & Art, Simon McDowell, Senior Vice President Europe for Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, announced that Men In Black will be the first Blu-ray Disc that will support the exciting new BD-Live feature in Europe, while David Reeves confirmed the imminent launch of Go!View in the UK. The service, a joint venture with Sky TV, will allow PSP users "to build up their own unique TV schedule on their PSP" and partners are being sought across Europe to extend the service for PSP and possibly PS3 owners.
The press conference moved on to include Friends & Family and then Music, focusing on Movement, a brand new PlayStation initiative "that will introduce PS3 owners to some great new unsigned acts from across Europe. Our hosts Spencer and Martin will be tracking down the hottest sounds across the continent in their VW Combi and uploading performances and travelogue footage from their tour onto the PlayStation Network."
In the final part of the World of PlayStation, David Reeves touched on Travel, highlighting the Go! range of products for PSP, as well as PlayTV on PS3, as the perfect products for enjoying entertainment on the move.
To close the press conference, David Reeves explained that hardware sales for PS3 had exceeded expectations, with 5 million units sold compared to the 4 million predicted at the Games Conference in Leipzig last August, and with over 3 million registrants on PlayStation Network having resulted in nearly 60 million items to date.
Finally, before inviting the attendees to "go forth and play", David Reeves explained that what had been shown today was "just the tip of the iceberg. The future we believe is looking very bright for PlayStation."
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