Sony Computer Entertainment of America (SCEA) CEO Jack Tretton boldly claimed that "this is the year of the PS3" a console with "the biggest exclusives in the industry" at Sony's E3 2008 press conference in Los Angeles today.
"The PlayStation brand is really hitting its stride," said Tretton, warming to his theme at an E3 conference in which Sony announced, among other things, God of War III, a DC Universe MMO and a new 256-player Massive Action Game (yes, that's the title!) for PS3, as well as new handheld titles Resistance Retribution and Super Stardust Portable for PSP.
Other big news from Sony's E3 showing included a new downloadable Ratchet and Clank title, release dates for the much-anticipated LittleBigPlanet from Media Molecule (October 1st this year), Infamous from Sucker Punch (spring 2009) and the immediate launch of the PlayStation Network's new PS3/PSP movie download service, along with plenty of impressive demos of other PlayStation games in development.
Interestingly, no release date was given for the launch of the PS3's much-anticipated Home online virtual community, although Tretton did assure the assembled journos and industry execs that their patience would be rewarded, mentioning that Ubisoft, EA, Activision, LucasArts and (strangely) Nike have all been very active in the Home beta to date.
That's the potted version. Read on for the full-run down in detail of all the key news announcements from Sony's E3 2008 press conference.
A faster horse
"2008 is the year of PS3, but we're just getting started," said Tretton. "We've just begun to scratch the service of what we plan to deliver ahead. The seeds were sewn 15 years ago this week, on July 20th – when we faced the red light or green light about whether the company should make its own console.
"What really made Sony different is we took a longer look ahead," he adds.
"Two years ago, we had another ten-year vision with PS3… If we'd have asked [our customers] if they needed all this power, they may have said no. But as Henry Ford once said, if I'd have asked my customers what they wanted, they'd have said: 'A faster horse.'"
"PS3 offers an experience for both gamers and developers no other console can match. Metal Gear Solid is not only exclusive on PS3 – it's only possible on PS3, thanks in part to Blu-Ray."
Resistance 2, LittleBigPlanet
Insomniac's Resistance 2 is the first major PS3 title to be demoed at the event, with Ted Price on stage giving the background story to the game: "In 1951 we lost Chicago, millions never made it out. ... now Chicago is enemy territory… Resistance 2 is a story of a country under siege, broken by a superior foe."
Impressively, Resistance 2 is set to feature 8-player online co-op and 60 player online multiplayer. "While many games talk about scale, Resistance 2 truly delivers," claims Price.
Next up, Alex Evans from Media Molecule hits the stage for an intriguing demo of LittleBigPlanet. Tretton describes the game as "the first time User Generated Content and social networking and gaming have come together, it's uniquely PlayStation."
Hardware figures are fun
Tretton and Evans run through the requisite hardware sales presentation, but presented as a fun LittleBigPlanet level, as opposed to the usual snore-inducing PowerPoint slide.
"Since 1995, PlayStation has generated more than $50 billion at retail," claims Tretton, adding that the most popular PS3 games are to me made available in the US at a $29.99 price point – including favourites such as Resistance, MotorStorm, Warhawk, Call of Duty 3, Fight Night, NFS: Carbon, Assassin's Creed, Oblivion: Elder Scrolls, and Ninja Gaiden
Back to LittleBigPlanet, Tretton considers the title to have "Absolutely unlimited potential" and be a "great way to expand our PS3 user base beyond males and core gamers."
Don't forget the PS2
Sony is the only one of the three major console manufacturers to still pay attention to its older hardware at E3 and, while many in the crowd only want to know what's new on PS3 and PSP, Tretton spends a good amount of time discussing the PlayStation 2 business.
"In many ways the success of PS2 has allowed us to be more aggressive [with PS3]," says Tretton.
"In 2008 we're introducing more than 130 titles to PlayStation 2," he adds, with brief demos of Yakuza 2, Force Unleashed, NCAA Football, Tiger Woods, Warriors Orochi 2, SingStar Pop vol. 2, Madden and Mercenaries 2: World in Flames.
Tretton also announces (yet another) new budget PS2 bundle - $149 for the PS2 console, plus a copy of the Lego Batman game and animated movie Justice League. Bargain!
PlayStation Network, new Ratchet
As of later this autumn, all PlayStation Network users will get a single sign-on, announces Tretton, adding that over 180 million pieces of content have been downloaded from PSN since the PS3 launched back in November 2006 in the US and Japan.
The next new game announced at E3 by Sony is Ratchet and Clank Future: Quest for Booty – described by the game's producer as "a shorter game at a lower ($14.99) price" and by Tretton as "great entertainment for about the cost of a movie ticket."
A number of other new and already announced downloadable games are also briefly demoed including titles such as Crash Commando, the (ludicrously un-PC) Fat Princess, PixelJunk Eden, Pain: Amusement Park, Flower, Siren: Blood Curse and RagDoll KungFu: Fists of Plastic.
Gran Turismo TV, Home, Movies
Petrolheads in the audience were clearly thrilled to hear that Polyphony Digital's Gran Turismo pay-per-view TV service will be launching on 1st August, announced with plenty of footage of feted GT producer Kazunori Yamauchi racing Ferraris and suchlike.
No release date was forthcoming for PS3's Home service, but Tretton at least thanks gamers for being patient, as he demos some of the game-themed spaces in Home.
Quickly moving on, Tretton is happy to announce that studio partners for PSN's video download service already include Sony Pictures (obviously) Fox, MGM, Lions Gate, Warner, Disney, Paramount, Turner and Funimation.
Standard and High-def are now available for rental or sell-through TV starting from $1.99 for movie rentals up to $14.99 for purchases. Once downloaded you can seamlessly shift your TV or movie content from your PS3 or PC over to your PSP to watch on the go.
"The video store will be available tonight!" Tretton is clearly happy to announce.
PlayStation Portable, Resistance Retribution
As of this October Sony plans to offer a new PSP bundle, made up of the popular game Ratchet and Clank: Size Matters, a silver PSP, 1GB Memory Stick, a UMD copy of movie National Treasure 2 and a voucher for the stylish puzzler Echochrome all for $199 (£100).
A genuine new PSP exclusive, Resistance Retribution is also announced, due for a spring 2009 release.
"We've always felt the PSP is the key to Sony owning the living room," notes Tretton. "This is every bit the hybrid device that we've always imagined. People continue to move from their office to their living room, and now that people can download movies through the PS3, this is the reality that we're building between the PSP and the PSN."
DC Universe online, 40GB PS3 scrapped
Jim Lee, director of the promising PS3 MMO DC Universe Online enthuses about his project, a game that features every DC superhero, winning the affection of the crowd as he tells them:
"This is really a dream project for me. When I was a kid, my parents wanted me to become a doctor and follow in my father's footsteps. Meanwhile, I wanted to read comic books."
Sony then announces that the 80GB PS3 – with the same functionality as the current 40GB model - is set to retail for $399 (£200), which can only mean that the current 40GB SKU is set to be phased out in future.
Jack Tretton follows this news by talking more about the "tremendous amount of support" SCE gets from its development partners and stressing that SCE's own worldwide studios gives the company a competitive advantage with 23 PS3 exclusives (10 on Blu-ray disc and 13 on PSN).
God of War 3, Infamous, MAG
God of War 3 is announced for PlayStation 3 which, while not a major surprise, still manages to wow the gamers in the crowd. Following this well-received announcement, developer Sucker Punch's open-world superhero title Infamous is demoed, with a release date of spring 2009 announced.
The final announcement at Sony's E3 press conference comes from developer Zipper Interactive (of SOCOM fame) who present a game called MAG (Massive Action Game) set to feature 256-player battles.
Zipper's Andy Beaudoin describes this PS3 exclusive: "MAG will deliver a sweeping battle experience using only real players... the game will be organised into 8-player squads, lead by people who are "proven" to be good leaders," and is to feature a character advancement tree for gameplay longevity and character development. It's an intensely ambitious game, which, so Sony assures us, could only be attempted on the PlayStation 3.
"If this is what year 2 of the PS3 lifecycle looks like, imagine what years 3 and beyond will look like," says Tretton, as he closes Sony's E3 2008 press conference.
So there we go. E3 is still clearly as vital as ever. And now that all three major hardware press conferences are over, it's time to let the analysts and fanboys pick apart the minutiae of every news announcement made by Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft over the last 48-hours.
Stay tuned to TechRadar over the coming days for all major news announcements from (and some exclusive, insider industry comment on) 2008's Electronic Entertainment Expo.