Sony (SNE) is coming off a record setting Playstation 4 launch, solid ongoing PS4 sales (one of the highlights of an otherwise unpleasant year for Sony) and the forthcoming launch of its Playstation Now game streaming service. Add in a parade of game exclusives like Little Big Planet 3, The Order 1886 and Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End and more demos of the Project Morpheus VR headset for the PS4, and Sony was once again on a roll at E3 2014.
Perhaps the most intriguing of Sony’s E3 2014 announcements was that its Playstation Vita TV game streamer — released in Japan last year — would be coming to the U.S. this fall, as the PSTV.
Microsoft (MSFT) was also at E3, of course, hoping to parlay its recent move to unbundle the Kinect from the Xbox One in favor of lower prices into something resembling momentum. Meanwhile, Nintendo (NTDOY) was faced with the tall order of proving its Wii U remains relevant in a console market where it’s being outsold four to one by Sony’s Playstation 4.
PSTV Coming to the U.S. and Canada This Fall
Jetpack-propelled soldiers, another GTA and more Batman were all exciting features of the Sony presentation, and the Project Morpheus virtual reality could be a big deal when it’s ready for prime time. But Sony introduced another piece of hardware, the inexpensive PSTV that has real potential to shake things up.
The PSTV is a little set-top box that will be priced at $99 when it hits U.S. shelves. And it’s the role the PSTV could play as a Trojan Horse — especially over this coming holiday season — that has perhaps the most promise.
Parents whose kids want a video game console have the choice of dropping big bucks for a next-gen rig (along with their more expensive game titles) or paying $200 or so for a previous-generation console. For around $100, they could pick up a Wii or an Amazon (AMZN) Fire TV and stick to mostly casual titles with so-so graphics.
For $99, they could buy a PSTV. That gets them access to the PS3 games on Sony’s soon-to-be-launched Playstation Now streaming game network. They can also pop in a Vita hand-held game cartridge for TV play.
In a year or two, when the time comes to move up to a full-fledged console, Sony’s PS4 becomes the logical choice. There’s no investment in now-incompatible games — keep playing the Playstation Now streaming games on both the PSTV and the PS4. Even better (especially for parents), that PSTV now becomes a sanity-saver and household peacekeeper. When the inevitable fight over the family room television erupts, the PSTV can be left plugged into another TV and used to stream the PS4 games to it.
No word on whether the PSTV will support streaming video, too — outside of offerings from its own online video store. The hardware can certainly handle it, and in Japan, PSTV owners have access to streaming video services … but there’s been no word about Netflix (NFLX) or similar services.
Notes From E3 2014
- More From Sony: This year, Sony also debuted futuristic new peripherals in the Project Morpheus VR headset, a white special edition PS4, the $99 PSTV game streamer and bragging rights for handily leading the console sales race to date. Then Sony trotted out a parade of high-quality exclusive titles and capped it off with a release date for PlayStation Now — meaning that vast library of PS3 titles will soon be accessible to PlayStation 4 (and PSTV) owners.
- Microsoft Stumbles Again: Microsoft didn’t do worse than last year when it alienated hardcore gamers with the Xbox One’s entertainment focus and premium price, but it still failed to impress. Yesterday, Microsoft switched its focus to games, but had little in the way of exclusives. And as ExtremeTech’s Sebastian Anthony points out, so soon after MSFT bailed on the Kinect as a must-have accessory, it could hardly use E3 2014 to showcase any Kinect titles, or to hint at futuristic new Xbox One peripherals.
- Nintendo Disappoints: No one expected much from Nintendo, and that’s what we got. At E3 2014, Nintendo went with a digital broadcast the day after Sony and Microsoft, instead of a live presentation. And the company did pretty much what you would expect: play trailers, mostly for upcoming first-party titles. The stream was just 40 minutes and included an open-world Legend of Zelda game (not due until 2015), which was exciting, but offset by disappointing news in the form of a delay in releasing the anticipated Super Smash Brothers for 3DS.
As of this writing, Brad Moon did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.