Sony gets booed at NGP AT&T announcement

Sony spent the first part of its pre-E3 press conference in damage control mode, but it was another announcement that caused the biggest crowd reaction.

As expected, Sony spent a fair amount of time discussing what we had previously come to know as the “NGP” (Next Generation Portable). We now know that the final title of this system will be the Playstation Vita.

The Vita has a lot of factors going for it, not the least of which is the very accessible price point. The device will cost a modest $250, for the WiFi model, or $300 for the 3G version. This is significantly cheaper than the $500 price point speculation that had been floating around, or even the $999 price that Gamespot listed on its site when the NGP was first unveiled.

While the announcement of price points drew substantial applause and cheers from the audience, the news of Sony’s 3G partner did not.

When Sony spokesman Kaz Hirai revealed that 3G service on the PS Vita would only be available through AT&T, there was a remarkable negative reaction of groans and boos from the audience. Even Mr. Hirai seemed to acknowledge the universal hatred toward AT&T, but had to remain faithful to the company.

No doubt AT&T provided Sony with some sort of financial incentive to be the exclusive 3G service provider.

But the AT&T news was just a minor distraction, really. The big deal was that Jack Tretton, the global figurehead of the Playstation brand, came on stage and apologized to his retail partners, publishing partners, development partners, and of course the end user.

Tretton said he was humbled by the response from Playstation fans who stuck with him and Sony throughout the massive Playstation Network outage. And in return, it was humbling to watch Tretton apologize to all that were affected.

But that only took up the preliminary portion of the press conference. The rest of the two-hour ordeal involved showcasing impressive new titles and showing off the power of the PS Vita.

By the end of the press conference, no one was talking about the PSN outage, and in fact the use of the “Playstation Network” phrase resonated throughout, as if nothing had happened and we were back to normal functionality. Which we are.

While there were definitely some bumps in the road – the requisite apologies for the PSN outage and the negative reaction to the Playstation Vita’s AT&T partnership – Sony managed to pull off an event that made gamers remember all that Sony has to offer.

In the end, the PSN outage story has become something of a relic, and Sony did what it needed to do to get back on track, albeit in not as spectacular a fashion as some would have liked. Regardless, it is clear that the whole debacle is in the past, and it has no bearing on what Sony can deliver in the future.

We’re excited about the Playstation Vita and the new PS3 content down the pike, but we most certainly have to hold judgment on who stole the E3 press conferences until tomorrow, when Nintendo will reveal its Wii successor for the first time. We have no doubt Nintendo will end up being the #1 talking point from E3 this year, so be sure to stay tuned to TG Daily for immediate aftermath and coverage of Nintendo’s press conference tomorrow morning.