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The PlayStation Showcase Was Good, but Sorely Lacked First-Party Flair

The PlayStation Showcase was over an hour of almost nonstop trailers, some of which were for stunners like Alan Wake 2, Ghostrunner 2, the Metal Gear Solid 3 remake, and Assassin’s Creed Mirage, just to name a few. These combined with a handful of impressive-looking indies like Ultros and Sword of the Sea meant it was a pretty solid showcase. However, it wasn’t a very good PlayStation showcase, and that’s an issue that tainted the whole show.

PlayStation has been making some of the best games of the year almost every year for the past decade. Titles like The Last of Us, God of War, Spider-Man, Days Gone, Returnal, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, Horizon Forbidden West, Ghost of Tsushima, and the Demon’s Souls remake have all been some of the unmissable first-party games that have defined PlayStation. They have been the standouts and why PlayStation has been so dominant over the last two generations.

The PlayStation Showcase Was Good, but Sorely Lacked First-Party Flair

They not only make the consoles great when they come out, but are also primed to make for memorable events. God of War made E3 2016 a fantastic show and the Horizon Forbidden West trailer was a highlight at the PS5’s reveal event. These are games that deserve a stage, and Sony knows that.

However, that knowledge didn’t come through for the May 2023 PlayStation Showcase since many of its first-party studios were either missing or presented lackluster trailers. Marathon has Bungie’s signature incredible art direction, but no gameplay. Fairgames’ debut was also flashy, but vague. Concord probably had the most vapid trailer of the whole show, as it provided next to nothing about the game. 

Of the five first-party titles there, three had criminally obtuse trailers that were too sparse to justify being Sony’s marquee titles. Most CG trailers just don’t work because of this, as players have grown tired of these smoke-and-mirror, tone-setting teasers. It’s hard to get excited for a game when it’s not even clear what kind of game it even is. It also doesn’t when those nebulous trailers are for new IPs like Concord and Fairgames.

The PlayStation Showcase Was Good, but Sorely Lacked First-Party Flair

Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 was a taste of what the whole show was lacking. It was the big, explosive showpiece that these streams are usually built around and what Sony has focused on in the past. It had actual gameplay, new mechanics, and, thanks to Venom, a surprise that was immediately attention-grabbing. People buy PS5s and watch PlayStation streams for games like this.

But Spider-Man 2 can’t be the only tentpole for a PlayStation Showcase, and it’s even stranger since given all the potential titles that could have been there to fill the gaps. Death Stranding 2 was announced almost six months ago and Hideo Kojima loves making trailers for big shows. Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us multiplayer game is the most obvious exclusion since this seemed like a prime place to unveil what it has been teasing for multiple years.

The PlayStation Showcase Was Good, but Sorely Lacked First-Party Flair

That multiplayer spin-off seemed like a sure bet, but there are also a ton of surprises that seemed designed to debut at a showcase like this. It’s not hard to imagine that Ghost of Tsushima 2 will be out in the next two years. Bluepoint Games has also been working on a mystery game for a few years. Santa Monica Studio is, according to Cory Barlog, “spread out on a lot of different things.” 

Housemarque probably isn’t ready to show what it has been developing since Returnal isn’t that old, but there are still plenty of wildcards like Team Asobi, Media Molecule, London Studio, and Bend Studio that have been toiling away in secret for many years. It’s surprising that none of these studios had something substantial to premiere, especially the teams that have crawled to the upper echelon of PlayStation Studios that would have dramatically improved the show.

A PlayStation Showcase is meant to show the future of PlayStation, and this recent one did technically do that, but didn’t fully utilize the “PlayStation” part of its namesake. That first-party panache is what has elevated previous Sony shows and why, despite a lineup of killer third-party games, this one was lacking. Peter Parker and Miles Morales can save New York’s doomed denizens from Kraven the Hunter and The Lizard, but they shouldn’t be the only big first-party heroes left to save this showcase.

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