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E3: With 'Last of Us,' 'Beyond,' 'God of War,' Sony courts gamers

June 05, 2012|By Ben Fritz and Alex Pham
  • The survival video game "The Last of Us" drew the biggest cheers at Sony's E3 2012 news conference.
The survival video game "The Last of Us" drew the biggest cheers… (David McNew )

It was all about the games at Sony’s E3 news conference Monday night.

Following a morning event at which competitor Microsoft touted ambitious plans to expand its video-game brand into digital video and music, Sony Corp. showed off an array of exclusive, big-budget, high-production value games — in hopes of luring high-spending core players to its PlayStation 3.

As the No. 2-selling console company, behind Microsoft's Xbox 360, Sony apparently believes the PS3 can gain ground by keeping its marketing message squarely focused on games.

Thus, Sony Computer Entertainment America chief Jack Tretton led an event focused on hotly anticipated titles, including “God of War: Ascension,” a sequel to Sony’s hit 21-million-selling franchise, and “PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale,” a near carbon copy of Nintendo’s fighting game “Super Smash Bros.,” which brings together numerous video-game characters.

Sony also unveiled a new original game called “Beyond” from Quantic Dream, a developer that focuses on making movie-like narratives for video games. The supernatural title stars Ellen Page as a young woman who ages from 5 to 20 years old in the course of the game.

The crowd at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum cheered loudest for a new property from Naughty Dog, a Sony-owned studio that made the bestselling “Uncharted” games, called “The Last of Us.” The survival game features a man accompanying a teenager girl in a post-apocalyptic world.

In addition to the PS3, which has sold 64-million units worldwide, Sony also touted its PlayStation Vita, a hand-held gaming device it launched this past winter to a modest response, as much of the energy in mobile gaming is now focused on smartphones and tablets.

Tretton announced that Sony has enticed Activision Blizzard Inc. to make a unique version of its blockbuster "Call of Duty: Black Ops" franchise for the Vita, and Ubisoft to do the same with its popular “Assassin’s Creed” series. Those deals should get more avid gamers excited for the device, which has shipped only 2-million units since its February launch.

Tretton made just a brief mention of the entertainment apps available on the PS3, which include some but not all of the ones on the Xbox 360, such as Hulu Plus, MLB.TV, and Netflix.

Also in attendance at the news conference was Sony’s recently named Chief Executive Kaz Hirai. In his former position atop the Japanese electronics giant’s video-game unit, Hirai often appeared on stage at Sony’s E3 news conferences. But this time he simply sat in the front row and watched his executive team at work.


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