The PlayStation 3 is about to dawn, and though there was little fire in Sony Computer Entertainment president Ken Kutaragi's talk on the topic, there's a clear sense of optimism... which runs counter to the general sense of vague misery surrounding the console among hardcore gamers ever since May.
So that's the cheery news. Sony is convinced the PS3 is a device with a big future.
The presentation began with a small tidbit for gamers: four trailers for sequels in popular franchises on the PS3. Ridge Racer 7, Virtua Fighter 5, Mobile Suit Gundam: Crossfire and Final Fantasy XIII are all showcase titles for the system (well, maybe not Gundam - not in the US, anyway.) But there was nothing new here; the trailer for FFXIII was the same one that was shown five months ago, and we learned nothing new about the other games.
Above: Ken talks up the PS3 while showing off the latest Virtua Fighter 5 footage. Unfortunately excellent-looking games like this weren't the focus of the presentation
That was pretty much it for gamers: Kutaragi spent the rest of the time talking about his vision for the system - and the game industry. A small bit of interesting news came out at the very end - that the low-end PS3 package will contain the HDMI video interface (at E3, Sony said that would only appear in the high-end package.) This means that any PS3 will be able to interface directly with HDTVs... so it's actually very good news. There was also an implication that Sega Genesis and TurboGrafx 16 games will be available for the PS3 - on top of the promise of downloadable PSone and PS2 games. A pricing announcement for Japan also pegged the low-end system at 50,000 yen including sales tax - or about $426. We were told by Sony PR, however, that this announcement doesn't cover the US.
Unfortunately, when we put it all together, the gaming-centric portion of the press conference took up maybe 10 minutes. The rest was pure blue sky - exactly what Sony doesn't need now on the eve of its system's shaky launch. Hopefully the real proof is on the show floor, in the form of playable games.