If PS4 wants to win E3 2017... Sony needs another huge surprise

It's hard to keep a secret when you plaster it 50ft high up the side of a hotel in downtown L.A., but it would seem this is Sony's strategy. Even before E3 has kicked off Sony went all-in with a giant billboard for God of War, a hulking brute of an advert that, literally, casts a shadow over E3. In one ballsy move Sony has set the tone for its conference… games, games, and more games. 

But it’s also shown its weakness, when you have too many AAA games (nine should make the show, with GT Sport, Days Gone and Spider-Man PS4 elbowing into God of War) it can be hard to find room for a shock surprise that will get the crowd roaring. 

Or at least, that’s what the detractors would say. It’s the only counter left. But set against a Nintendo E3 Direct with too few games and a Microsoft E3 conference dedicated to selling a PC in a box, Sony’s position of ensuring PS4 is still ‘for the players’ is a strong one. After all, as gamers we’re here to play games, and considering Sony can back it’s first-party schedule with a plethora of third-party exclusives, including this winter’s biggest games in Destiny 2, Star Wars Battlefront 2 and Call Of Duty: WW2, doubling down on showcasing what we can play here and now is a strong position. 

It should also mean we get fewer cringing jokes and less time watching marketing men ass-pat, and more time seeing games, in what could be a speedy, slick and fine-tuned conference showcase. Sony ‘won’ last year’s E3 because it kept things simple, stuck to a snappy delivery and offered a clear message. Expect the same again. Sure, there will likely be some self-congratulatory boasts: PS4 Pro sales figures are rising, PS VR has sold over 1 million units, and Farpoint - with the PS Aim controller - debuted at number two in the UK weekly charts, making it the best-performing VR game to date (VR Worlds entered at seven). All good news for the Sony shareholders.

Expect an undercurrent of reassurance to fend off Scorpio’s bravado: we’ll be told more games will push PS Pro enhancements, PS VR will be a bigger deal in the next year for Sony so expect some new game reveals. All good stuff, but not the real message Sony will want to break out of the echo chamber. The real take-home from E3 will be ‘PS4 has more games this Christmas than any other console’. Or in more brutal terms: ‘don’t be tempted by Scorpio’.

And if any loyal gamers do consider tasting 4K gaming on Scorpio, Sony will slap their sweaty hands away with a demo of David Cage’s Detroit: Become Human, a game that will showcase exactly what a PS4 Pro can do in the hands of a tech-savvy dev that wants to showboat.

Yet that question of a shock reveal is still lingering. As gamers we want a surprise; an end stop to a conference to get the Twittersphere buzzing. So expect something. Will it be a cameo from Kojima, a tease of Spyro remastered, Red Dead Redemption 2 gameplay to steal the limelight? Why not. 

Expect at least one new shiny reveal from Sony too, a game naturally, and more than likely from a Japanese developer. Sony is pushing hard the reality that more Japanese teams are returning to PlayStation, partly because of a collapse in the mobile market, but also because PS4 is seen as a hotbed for new ideas. So, Bloodborne 2 would be a safe bet, but then in a conference welded to the idea of playing it safe, Sony could surprise with something truly unexpected… 

Ian Dean is Editor of Official PlayStation Magazine. The latest issue is on sale now, featuring hands-on impressions of Destiny 2, plus exclusive access to Call Of Duty: WW2, Hellblade, Fortnite for PS4 and the latest news on Far Cry 5. Plus, every reader gets a FREE Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy guide book! Buy it at all good shops, digitally, or online.