Those heading to E3 this year expecting the showfloor to be awash with PlayStation 3 hardware look set for disappointment, as information emerges pointing to a tightly-restricted hands-on debut for the new machine.
Over the last few weeks, SPOnG has heard from numerous sources within third-party publishers and at various developers, all of whom outlined that their product being readied for E3 would not be shown on Sony's stand. Furthermore, the availability of demo units to third-parties for inclusion in their own booths has not been outlined, leaving publishers and developers unsure as to what they will be able to show, even at this late stage.
"From what we have been hearing, the PlayStation 3 will be shown in a similar way to which the PSP was debuted at E3," one publishing source told SPOnG last week. "Attendees will be able to view the machine in a tightly-restricted environment. People thinking the floor will be awash with playable demo pods will be sore if they walk through the doors expecting to be able to sample a massive range of [PlayStation 3] software at leisure."
Several people we spoke to made the PSP showing analogy, news that will come as disappointment to most. For non-press attendees, a glimpse of the PSP was almost impossible with queues of five hours or so to see the machine blighting the debut.
We put these concerns to Sony Computer Entertainment America, who while assuring us that the PlayStation 3 would be in playable form, did indicate that a massive open floorplan packed with hands-on units was unlikely. "We have always said that the PlayStation 3 will be playable at this year's E3 and that hasn't changed," explained Ryan Bowling at SCEA. "We have a three platform showing this year and of course the PlayStation 2, which is now more popular than ever, will share space with the PSP and the PlayStation 3."
But will the PlayStation 3 be on open play or will it be shown in a similar way to the PSP's first E3 showing? "We are expecting big queues to see the PlayStation 3 and so will be taking great care to manage the crowds in the best way possible. All press will certainly have no problems seeing everything we are showing. This year is going to be huge for us. Not just in terms of what we're showing, but in the major announcements we have planned."
As to how restricted access to the PlayStation 3 will be, we'll find out on May 10th, though SPOnG fully expects demand to go hands on with the system, and its new controller, to greatly outstrip the supply of playable units.
We'll be going hands-on with everything shown this year. Stick with us throughout the show for the important bits of E3, with most of the crap filtered out.