At E3, Sony aims for entertainment domination with PlayStation TV

Roku, Chromecast, PlayStation TV? Yes, Sony is making a bid in the set-top box game, debuting a gaming and TV box for only $99 in North America and Europe this fall.

Mario Anzuoni/REUTERS
Shawn Layden, president and chief executive of Sony Computer Entertainment America, presents the PlayStation TV during a media briefing before the opening day of the Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3, at the Memorial Sports Arena in Los Angeles, California June 9, 2014.

The top of your TV seems to be the most coveted spot in your living room among major technology companies.

Among a flurry of announcements at the gaming conference E3, Sony announced it will debut a gaming and video streaming mini-console called PlayStation TV in North America and Europe later this year. This will combine a PlayStation set-top box already for sale in Japan along with the video streaming service PlayStation Now that Sony has been testing since January. Has PlayStation hit the magic mark by combining gaming and video in one small affordable package?

PlayStation TV will have the video capability of Roku, Chromecast, and other set top boxes, with the opportunity to play a select number of PlayStation games. TV-wise, the box will be compatible with streaming services, such as Hulu. Video game-wise, the company says those with PlayStation TV will have access to more than 1,000 yet-to-be-named video game titles. The mini-console, which is set to launch in the fall, will retail for $99, $139 with a game controller.

This price is comparable to Amazon’s recently released Fire TV, but is a bit more pricey than Google’s Chromecast, which retails for $35, and Roku, which can retail as low as $50. However, it does have the option for gaming on the PlayStation system, which other streaming sticks can’t beat. It also has the potential to work with PlayStation Now, a cloud-based video and game streaming service that has major players from Netflix to GameStop concerned. Adding cheap, TV-compatible hardware to the mix only increases the likelihood that its new services and games will catch on.

In addition to announcing the upcoming release of PlayStation TV, Sony exceeded industry expectations by announcing new games for Project Morpheus (its virtual reality headset), a PlayStation 4 bundle with the upcoming game Destiny, and showed off demos of PlayStation 4 exclusives, such as history horror game “The Order: 1886” and “Mortal Kombat X.” It also announced a surprise sequel to a popular game, “LittleBigPlanet 3,” which will hit stores in November.

Experts say the combination of hardware and software surprises were an unexpected home run in a notoriously competitive industry.

“This time around, Sony knew that [it not only had to] unleash a barrage of game announcements, but also make sure it was offering a strong enough value proposition for the PS4, especially so in a landscape increasingly dominated by cross-platform games,” write Nick Statt and Ian Sherr of CNET, reflecting on the announcements.

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