So, here we are sat on comfy cushions in a cushty Shoreditch studio, at Sony’s PS3 event for bloggers. We’re kicking off with a demo of PS3’s features, before a Q&A session with the company’s Phil Harrison.
First interesting thing – they showed the firmware update option, and mentioned one example of how it’ll be used is to update the PS3 browser with new versions of Flash or Java. Cool if you’re into web games. They also showed a demo of accessing YouTube to watch videos. The video looks good, although the text looks tiny on a TV screen from where I’m sitting.
And now they’re showing the music features – here’s a thing, they have an iPod connected, and apparently you can copy tracks from the iPod to the PS3 hard drive. “As long as it’s not downloaded from the Apple iTunes store, so not DRM protected, you can play it. And you can literally just copy it all across rather than having to import your entire collection from CD.”
Now they’re showing off Remote Play, which is included in the latest PSP firmware update. You can browse content on any device connected to the PS3 from your PSP – the camera, the iPod etc. The Sony chap is browsing the iPod library from his PSP now, and showing how you can tweak the streaming settings.
At the mo, your PSP has to be within Wi-Fi range of the PS3, but an update will allow you to do it from anywhere in the world as long as your PSP’s connected to a Wi-Fi hotspot or network.
Now they’re showing Blu-ray, with Mission Impossible 3. “It’s not the best quality film to use…”
Sony admits Blu-ray movies are “few and far between” in the UK at the mo, but referred to the US, where there’s a lot more. Oh, it’s that scene on the bridge in MI3 where everything blows up. Apparently Black Hawk Down is amazing though – they’re showing it downstairs on the demo pods, so I’ll hopefully have a look at that later.
Now it’s the PlayStation store, taking us through the downloadable demos and full games. It doesn’t use a points system like the Wii Shop, and a lot of the content is currently free he says. There are Blu-ray trailers too – this could be useful for kickstarting demand for the actual discs.
Initially, you’ll be able to buy PSone games to download and play on your PSP – a future firmware update will let you play them on your PS3 too. No PS2 games though, they take up too much space.
Cool stuff – you could put a Formula 1 game disc in the PS3, and it’ll take you to a specific part of the PlayStation store. Maybe to buy power-ups, extra car designs etc? That sounds intruiging. Now Phil Harrison, Sony’s chief head honcho in Europe (I think that’s his job title) is here for the Q&A.
There are lots of Linux questions, I won’t bore you with them. Some more details on the way the PlayStation Store will work for individual games. Sony is planning to launch a SingStore for its Singstar game, where you’ll be able to browse “hundreds” of songs, tag a bunch, and then download them into the game. I am unfeasibly excited about this.
Harrison was less forthcoming in response to a question about Sony’s ties with Apple (they’re both supporting Blu-ray) and whether this would lead to proper iTunes integration with the PS3. Nothing to report, in other words. Although if Apple ever does decide to relax its approach to DRM licensing, it would presumably be easy to upgrade the PS3 to play iTunes Store files.
Some interesting stuff on where PS3 might be headed. “PlayStation 3 is built on open standards: USB, Bluetooth, Ethernet, wireless networking and wired networking,” said Harrison. “This allows us to significantly extend the capacities of the machine over time. A USB device or USB TV could easily be connected to the machine. All it takes is a piece of software to make that come alive. PlayStation 2 didn’t have the open extended architecture to make that happen, but PlayStation 3 does. If you look at how PSP’s functionality has increased over time with the firmware upgrades, and imagine the same strategy with PlayStation 3, you can see where we might be going.”
He was also bullish in response to a question about how PS3 is innovating in the area of online gaming – in other words, what’s really new, beyond apeing what Microsoft has done with Xbox 360? “If I had my way, we’d only market it as a connected device,” he said. “Philosophically, PS3 should only ever be connected to a network of some description.”
There was a question about Gran Turismo HD, which is apparently going live in Japan on 24th December as a free download from the PlayStation Store. Harrison said it’s still unclear what will happen in the UK with the game, but said he “can’t see any reason” why it shouldn’t be free here too.
Nintendogs is Harrison’s favourite non-PlayStation game of recent times, because it drew in non-gamers, and “made me realise that with a very good piece of software you can grow the market”. I’m quite keen to hear more about Sony’s plans on the casual side, but while Harrison pointed out that Singstar has now sold over 6 million units, while quiz game Buzz has topped 2 million, he didn’t say much about how Buzz and Eyetoy will evolve in the PS3 era.
Last two questions now. Someone asked if Sony would follow Microsoft’s lead and produce a VGA cable for PS3. He didn’t actually say no, but he did reiterate that Sony’s betting on HDMI as its futureproof display standard. Oh, and the final question was about where PS3 will go in the next 5-6 years, but the answer started with the days when Nintendo and Sega ruled the roost, and… well, I was daydreaming about downloading Primal Scream Singstar tracks from the PlayStation Store. Sorry about that.
Check back tomorrow for all the vids we shot at the event, and more impressions of the PS3.