Gamescom: Sony announces PS4 release date

By Melissa Platero, CCNN Writer

Did Gamescom 2013 leave the best for last? We’ll let you be the judge of that. Sony took center stage at Gamescom in Cologne, Germany to end the conference with the most anticipated news of the year: the PS4 release date. In addition to that, they introduced the PlayStation Plus, explained the Vita Price Drop, welcomed independent gaming publishers, and showed a preview of LittleBigPlanet Hub.

So, while the Xbox One is pretending to be a cat and playing with its food, Sony is getting down to business with announcing the PS4 release date. At Gamescom, Sony revealed that the PS4 would be available on November 15 in the USA and Canada, then on November 29 in Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. The prices are still at a firm $399, a whole $100 dollars less than the Xbox One.

Now, if you’re completely set on getting the new PS4, then there are a few options already in the works. At Sony’s press conference, the company announced that all PS4 owners would receive a free 14-day Playstation Plus trial with the purchase of their console. The Playstation Plus is a feature similar to Xbox Live that gives users access to exclusive features available only to those with the membership. At 50 dollars a year Playstation Plus is still cheaper than Xbox Live.

New videos of the Playstation exclusives announced at E3 were shown off, like vicious footage of a Killzone: Shadow Fall multiplayer match, the sleek concept cars of Gran Turismo, and the delightfully cartoonish adventure game Knack.

Sony may be on top of their game with all this PS4 news, but there is one mishap they’re desperately trying to fix. At a pricey $249, the PlayStation Vita has been struggling since its 2012 release. Faced with no other real option, Sony has dropped the price to $199 and made its memory cards more affordable. Instead of paying $20 for a 4gb memory card, you can now pay $15. At the conference, Sony spent a lot of time on the Vita explaining their support of the system with hopes that the holiday market would favor them over the Nintendo 3DS XL.

Here’s what you’ve all been waiting for now, especially those of you who watched the E3 conference… a jab at Microsoft! Sony used Gamescom to welcome independent gaming publishers to post their work on the PlayStation Network (PSN). Nick Suttner, who works directly with Sony and Indie publishers, said, “The indie PSN content and announcements you’ve seen so far this year are a direct reflection of those efforts. We’ve discovered the big secret behind indies wanting to work with you is this: don’t be jerks.” It looks like Microsoft got the hint, because they’ve started an entirely new form of self-publishing that looks eerily familiar to the one on PSN.

In actual gaming news, Sony announced that fan favorite, LittleBigPlanet (LBP), is getting a new, free-to-play experience called LittleBigPlanet Hub. Available only on the PSN, LBP Hub is a free realm where characters can create, play, and share their planets with other gamers. Players participate in some free-of-charge features that will improve your planet and make for more exciting gameplay. Alternatively, you can also buy specific LBP elements such as costumes or jetpacks to decorate your characters.

We’re going to say the complete annihilation of the Xbox One at E3 is probably the only reason why Sony didn’t go hard against Microsoft this time around. They did, however, get one final jab in talking about how “others have shifted their message and changed their story, we [Sony] were consistent.”

So, maybe they didn’t “win” this convention quite the same way as they did at E3, but we can’t give Microsoft any props either, since they also had a lackluster day of news.

Featured image and videos courtesy of Sony.