What to expect from Sony at GamesCom

icon_feature1There’s been a lot of buzz over the past few weeks about all things PlayStation. The fact that Sony will hold a mammoth three-hour press conference at GamesCom on August 18 has only further added to the rumours that have been doing the rounds. Here’s a list of what we can expect from Sony at its GamesCom press conference:

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PS3 Slim and price cut
Not a day goes by, it seems, without some website from some corner of the world quoting reliable sources to confirm the impending release of the PS3 Slim. While that’s interesting news, just a redesign won’t help boost sluggish sales. It will have to come with a price drop, which too, many people are predicting. We too have heard of an imminent priced drop by as much as Rs 5,000 ($100) as early as this month.

Gran Turismo 5 release date
The elusive fifth installment of PlayStation’s most successful first-party game franchise might finally release this December. Many sources have cited insider information, leaked release schedules, and even Kaz Yamauchi’s statements from E3 to pinpoint a December release for Gran Turismo 5. With Gran Turismo’s elusive PSP debut also releasing this October as a PSPgo launch title, GT fans are in for a dream year.

Revamped PSN
Asian PSN users have received an interesting e-mail highlighting the launch of “a new upgraded PlayStation Network Membership service” on August 18. Incidentally, that’s the same day as Sony’s GamesCom press conference, so it may well be a worldwide upgrade rather than only for Asian users. Kaz Hirai had recently spoken about a PSN overhaul, but that was scheduled for spring 2010. So we wonder what this update is all about.

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PS2 backwards compatibility
Sony has obviously been hard at work looking for ways add backwards compatibility to the PS3 without inflating production costs. With the Cell already capable of emulating the emotion engine, apparently Sony has now patented a technology that allows it to emulate the graphics synthesiser using the Cell and RSX, making the return of backwards compatibility a very real possibility. Could there be good news on this front at GamesCom?

Glowing motion control dildos
Say what you will about the ghastly design of the PS3’s motion controller prototypes, but the tech is undeniably impressive. We got a taste of what it’s capable of through demos at E3, but with the controllers set for a spring 2010 release, hopefully at GamesCom we’ll get to see what first-party, and perhaps even third-party, studios are doing with this technology. Is it asking for too much to also expect an improved controller design?

Heavy Rain showcase
Quantic Dream’s ambitious Heavy Rain was conspicuous by its absence at E3 and has somewhat drifted away from public memory recently. But that will change at GamesCom, with the French developer set to showcase the game’s third act in Cologne. We can also finally expect a release date for the PS3 exclusive.

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New titles from European studios
Just speculating here, but Sony’s London, Cambridge and Liverpool studios have been pretty quiet, as have Evolution since the release of MotorStorm Pacific Rift. With Arctic Edge being developed by Bigbig Studios, can we expect an announcement on Evolution’s next project? Media Molecule is also set to take the stage at Sony’s press conference to announce the LittleBigPlanet GOTY Edition, and hopefully more.

PSN apps store and PSP digital releases
With the launch of the PSPgo around the corner, Sony is set to announce the PSN app store for the PSP at GamesCom. A massive PSN store update is also underway, with hundreds of UMD games migrating to PSN. Sony has also been working on a system that enables UMD owners to download digital versions of their games for free. There may also be more on that at GamesCom.

PlayStation loyalty program
Sony recently registered a trademark for ‘PS Thanks’, an “incentive loyalty program” designed to identify and motivate its consumers. How they will achieve this is unclear; perhaps a points system based on purchases, use of PlayStation services, etc.

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Agent debut?
This one’s a shot in the dark. Rockstar usually like to announce their titles at their convenience and in their own way, but Sony’s had us giddy with excitement ever since they announced that Rockstar was working on Agent exclusively for PS3. Just a hint on what the game is all about is all we ask. Make it happen, Rockstar.

A lot of what’s mentioned above is almost guaranteed to happen – the PS3 slim announcement, PSN app store, Heavy Rain showcase, and GT5 release date, for example, while others are mere speculation or just wishful thinking. But we thought we’d put it all out there just in case.

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