Lauren Goode

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From Sony, More Games and More Cross-Platform Play

Along with the Xbox, Sony’s PlayStation 3 is one of the oldest consoles on the market. But without any signs of a possible successor, will we see new hardware at this year’s E3 gaming conference?

That’s what everyone will be looking for at tonight’s Sony press event, which kicks off at 6 pm PT, along with new software titles for both PlayStation and the PlayStation Vita, Sony’s handheld gaming device.

If the Sony press conference mirrors today’s earlier announcements from Microsoft Xbox and Electronic Arts, we’ll likely see sequels of established software franchises as well as a focus on interconnectivity between devices — the console, the TV, your tablet and your phone.

We’ll also have our eye on SOEmote, Sony’s new facial animation technology for EverQuest II, to see how that works.

6:06 pm: Jack Tretton, President and CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment of America, is kicking off the event.

It’s a packed house here at Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena.

6:08 pm: Tretton says Sony is broadcasting the event tonight in four different languages.

Kaz Hirai — Sony’s new CEO — is here, too.

6:13 pm: Sony starts off with a brand-new game title: Beyond Two Souls, which features a protagonist named Jodie Holmes.

Jodie Holmes is the strong, silent type, or so it seems from this game clip we’re seeing. She’s being interrogated by someone, not saying a word. But this girl can make objects fly through the air.

She’s the antithesis of the Lara Croft look, with cropped hair, a flannel shirt and dog tags.

6:18 pm: Now a reference to Sony’s viral “Michael” ad from last year.

The team behind PlayStation’s All-Stars: Battle Royale takes the stage.

All-Stars will now be available for the PlayStation Vita, and will be compatible with PlayStation 3. In other words: More cross-play on multiple devices.

6:23 pm: Now the All-Stars: Battle Royal team is demonstrating cross-play.

The clown character in this game is enough to keep a small child up at night.

And Fat Princess — that’s the character’s name — wins this round. Handshakes among the team; a smattering of applause.

6:27 pm: As AllThingsD’s Tricia Duryee predicted earlier, we’re seeing more cross-platform playing options.

Later this year, Sony will introduce a cross-controller that allows players to play and share games using the PS3 and PS Vita together, Tretton says.

Eighty percent of PS3s and PS Vitas are connected to the Internet now, Tretton says, with 1,500 downloadable titles available.

6:31 pm: Tretton says games like Journey, Papo & Yo and Unfinished Swan will now be available for download on the PlayStation Network, just a few of more than 200 digital downloadable titles that will come to the PlayStation Network this month.

Plus, freebies: Infamous 2, Saints Row 2 and Little Big Planet 2.

It’s not a new strategy, throwing in free software to drive hardware sales, but the crowd seems to like the idea.

6:32 pm: Long live the freebie: E3 attendees will also get PlayStation Plus access for free for a year.

6:35 pm: Turning now to focus on the video offerings in the PlayStation store, like Amazon’s video service, Hulu Plus and NHL Game Center.

Last week, YouTube came to Vita; Tretton says Hulu and Crackle Television are coming to Vita soon, too.

(How many Vita units have sold, Jack? We’re waiting …)

6:41 pm: They are now showing off Assassin’s Creed III for PS Vita, with a female leading role! (i.e., no more uncomfortable sex scenes for female players).

The beginning of the game takes place at sea with a boat getting rocked by the waves. No pirates so far, but it looks like there should be some.

6:44 pm: Far Cry 3 is up now, another Ubisoft title. An insane cast of characters hits a remote island.

The differentiating playing feature of this game is four-player co-op, so there’s four people up on stage — one female — showing us how it is done. The players are all in verbal contact with each other as they come under heavy fire.

Go, go, go!

High fives all around!

By the way, this is Tricia Duryee taking over from Lauren Goode, who is experiencing technical difficulties. I swear, E3 requires multiple laptops and Wi-Fi connections to make reporting it possible.

6:49 pm: Next is an update on Sony’s Move, the motion-controlled device for the PS3.

I would love to have some new numbers on Move shipments, too, as it doesn’t seem to be doing as well as Microsoft’s Kinect. You have to have a lot of compelling software titles to get people excited about buying an accessory.

To that end, Sony is showing off some new Move content.

It’s something called “Wonderbook,” which appears to be a way to make a children’s pop-up book digital. There will be educational content.

Moonbot Studios is one of the first to be working on a “game” or “book” called Diggs Nightcrawler. Moonbot is mostly known for its e-books for children, so this is bringing new kinds of content to the PS3.

The first title will be called “Book of Spells,” authored by J.K. Rowling, better known as the author of “Harry Potter.”

6:56 pm: “Welcome to the reinvention of the book. … Open the Book of Spells to enjoy new writing by J.K. Rowling.”

The Book of Spells is no ordinary book, sort of like the paintings that come to life in the Harry Potter series.

Words pop up out of the book, dragons flap their wings and fly off the page with the wave a wand. Very cool!

Handing back to Lauren Goode, who is back online.

7:00 pm: Thanks Tricia!

The book in this game also becomes a digital pop-up book.

And a game controller turns into a spell-casting wand.

All the, um, kids who voraciously read “Harry Potter” will fully appreciate the possibilities of this game.

The Book of Spells from J.K. Rowling is the first of many books that will be available for the Wonderbook library, Sony says.

7:04 pm: In case you haven’t heard: Mobile gaming is giving traditional gaming a run for its money.

So Sony is now touting its PlayStation-certified mobile games.

HTC will be Sony’s first hardware partner for PlayStation mobile games.

7:06 pm: PlayStation Suite is now going to be called PlayStation Mobile, natch.

7:10 pm: This game clip we’re watching now is showing a fierce battle on a dock with some eel-like creature slithering around in the water. There are spears! Chains! Great balls of fire!

It’s God of War Ascension, which comes out March 12, 2013.

7:20 pm: We’re watching a trailer now of the new Uncharted game featuring Nathan Drake.

Update: This game is actually titled The Last of Us…not Uncharted. I shouldn’t have assumed this heart-throbbish guy was Drake!

7:22 pm: Lots of gun-firing, head-bashing and explicit cursing in this game. Not kid-friendly, for sure.

And the head-bashing just went to a whole new level.

This is the third game we’ve seen today showing people shot directly in the face.

(I think I’ll go back to Draw Something now …)

7:25 pm: Wow. So Sony’s concluding this portion of the event with the gunshot to the face clip?

Jack Tretton wraps it up and the crowd starts to file out of the arena.

As expected, no new console from Sony this year, but we did see a new cross-platform game controller, a partnership with HTC for mobile games, new IP (Beyond Two Souls) and more titles to boost PS Vita and Move, including the super-cool Wonderbook demo.

But will this be enough to drive more sales of PlayStation 3 as it enters its seventh year on the market?

Only time will tell. We’re out for now, but stay tuned to AllThingsD for continuing coverage, including Nintendo’s press conference at 9 am PT tomorrow!


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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald