Last Friday, PlayStation’s Worldwide Studios Chairman Shawn Layden confirmed there would be no PlayStation Experience in the States this year. At this moment, PlayStation and PSX event fans breathed a sigh, either of relief or disappointment. Both sides of the reaction are acceptable.
I personally have been to PSX 2016 and 2017 and have watched both PSX 2014 and 2015 at home. It is an event I looked forward to every year as it always takes place right at the beginning of December, often the weekend of Geoff Keighley’s Game Awards Show. Combined, the announcements are always exciting and plentiful and really give gamers a little something to end the year with a bang. My first PSX (2016) was one of my favorite and most memorable experiences. Not only did my friend and I post up in a sketchy Anaheim motel, which led to some hilarious moments, but we got to experience awesome announcements surrounded by PlayStation devotees such as ourselves. Being able to roam the show floor playing upcoming PlayStation games and VR experiences was a blast, and while the playable games weren’t always the high-profile AAA games we wanted to try out, we enjoyed ourselves nonetheless. Not to mention, being able to acquire collectible cards and other nifty rewards around the show floor, to later be redeemed on the PlayStation store, was always a great metagame and a way for us to pass time between demo appointments.
That 2016 show had one of my favorite PlayStation press conferences showcasing not one, but two upcoming Naughty Dog titles. Uncharted: The Lost Legacy was a great opening to the show no one saw coming, and then right at the end, Shawn Layden unveiled the first trailer for The Last of Us Part II. Being apart of that raucous crowd reaction is something I will never forget, and is one of my most cherished gaming memories.
However, while it had its moments, PSX 2017 failed to deliver the same thrills I had experienced during my first visit. One glaring flaw was the comparatively toned down vibe of the opening conference, as it was more of a developer discussion between some of PlayStation’s big directors such as Cory Barlog and Hideo Kojima. While this was nice and relaxing, there wasn’t much revealed (certainly nothing earth-shattering), and we were left in the cold with no release dates for 2018’s big titles, such as God of War, Detroit: Become Human and Spider-Man.
All that being said, I still had a great time traversing the show floor trying out smaller games and VR experiences. However, it was clear to me Sony was struggling to find projects they could unveil and it was apparent that, in the past two years, Sony had perhaps shown us more of its hand than it should have (see PlayStation’s E3 2016 press conference).
This is why the recent announcement of no PSX 2018 was something that didn’t startle me in the slightest. The red flags were everywhere, from Sony really only focussing on its four big titles at E3 this year (one of which has already released), to the silence from Sony throughout September, it was clear there were no intentions for a convention this year.
It really is sad for fans that looked forward to the show every year, even if it was just to pal around, play some games, and take some pictures with their favorite mascots. However, Sony’s decision to hold off on a show this year makes sense and is probably for the best in the grand scheme of things.
If Sony did hold a convention this year they likely would just be rehashing what we have already seen. They would have felt the pressure to deliver surprises and new trailers for upcoming AAA projects that fans are demanding such as The Last of Us Part II, Ghost of Tsushima, and Death Stranding. This, in turn, would anger and disappoint other fans as some would cry foul of the fact that Sony was showing the same three games off yet again. It really is a no-win situation for Sony and so their best bet was to cancel PSX entirely for this year.
There have also been rumors that this is a sign that the company is hunkering down and setting up preparations for a PlayStation 5 reveal and potential release in 2019. While I don’t agree that a new PlayStation console is on the way before 2020, this rumor may hold merit. Could Sony perhaps be gearing up for a giant reveal at E3 2019, or maybe even a potential PSX 2019, to really give back to the fans for having skipped the previous year? It’s possible, as Sony would maybe want to unveil possible launch/launch window titles along with the reveal. Many speculate that Sony has the means to really launch PS5 with some high-quality exclusives such as Horizon 2, Persona 6, or the coveted Bloodborne 2. It’s not even out of the realm of possibility to get sequels to this year’s God of War and Spider-Man hits by 2021. It’s anyone’s guess at this point, and it’s what really makes the future of PlayStation such an exciting prospect.
Am I, and many others, disappointed in Sony’s decision to forego a PlayStation Experience this year? Absolutely. It is one of my most anticipated events of the year and is an extremely inexpensive weekend compared to something like E3. However, I understand Sony needs some time to cool off and really get its head on straight leading up into our final couple years before the PlayStation 5. It’s hard to believe the gaming industry is already in discussions on the next console iterations from both Sony and Microsoft, but five years really fly by when you’re being handed fantastic games. Hopefully, by this time next year, Sony will have announced a PSX 2019, and both fans and showgoers alike will eagerly be awaiting the opportunity to be amongst each other once again to hang out and play some jolly games.