Will Sony Inflict Massive Damage At E3 08?

After rebounding from a disastrous showing at E3 2006 — five hundred and ninety nine U.S. dollars, massive damage, motion controlololol, giant enemy crabs, etc. — with a more understated E3 2007 presentation — is that... Chewbacca? — Sony has a meaty line-up planned for 2008. In fact, Sony Computer Entertainment America may have too much to pack into its E3 press conference this year, as it gears up for its third holiday season in North America. The list of games it should have on hand for the PlayStation 3 will make for impressive sizzle trailers and thrilling ship date announcements. But SCEA will likely have one or two things up its sleeve, as rumors of God of War 3 and a new Twisted Metal abound.

What can we expect Sony to focus on this year? Home and first party PlayStation 3 games. SCE Worldwide Studios boss Shuhei Yoshida recently voiced the importance of internally developed products, as third-party exclusives go the way of the dinosaur. Titles we're almost guaranteed to hear more about include LittleBigPlanet, Killzone 2, Resistance 2, inFamous, SIREN Blood Curse, SOE's The Agency, MotorStorm: Pacific Rift, PixelJunk Eden, The Last Guy, Flower and SOCOM Confrontation.

But Sony has far more than that to squeeze into its presentation, including what's coming for the PlayStation Network, PSP and PlayStation 2. While not guaranteed to make an appearance, there are a handful of "safe bets" that may come up during its E3 keynote.

These include the internally developed Afrika, Level 5's role-playing game White Knight Chronicles, and Quantic Dream's Heavy Rain. That last title is rumored to be the PS3 emotionally charged visual showcase that left the BBC "speechless" at a demo earlier this year. Ratchet & Clank Future: Quest For Booty, rumored to be an expansion to Insomniac Games' hit 3D action platformer, is also very, very likely to get a mention.

Those looking forward to Final Fantasy XIII and Final Fantasy XIII Versus have likely already come to terms with its apparent E3 no-show, but those two RPGs should at least show up in trailer form. We can at least hold out hope for a surprise appearance from Team ICO which is in the process of staffing up for its PS3 debut.

We've heard little about Sony's plans for NCSoft on the PlayStation 3, with whom it announced a partnership with last year and what exactly that Rockstar Games exclusive it has lined up remains to be seen.

Sony may also pull back the curtain on a number of new PlayStation Network titles, beyond things like Flower and Eden, as a quintet of trademarksEmber, SkyBlue, Carriage Return, Race Day, and Strings Attached — have yet to materialize. We may also get a peek at Q-Games next PixelJunk title, Dungeons, but suspect that the company will focus on the tangible, ready-to-ship-soon stuff. Will SCEA be brave enough to localize Japanese gardening sim Shiki-tei?

With Home expected to ship later this year, Sony will more than likely bang the hype drum on its virtual world service. How? We suspect it will be by publicly showcasing how Home can make games we already own, titles like Warhawk, Resistance: Fall of Man and Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, really, really cool. A peek into how future titles like MotorStorm: Pacific Rift and Killzone 2 will exploit Home, wouldn't surprise us, nor would a firm release date and further details on how Sony plans to monetize Home at the consumer level.

PlayStation 3 hardware could conceivably see a price drop alongside a revision, as marquee releases like Grand Theft Auto IV and Metal Gear Solid 4 helped to spike console sales, but not kick them into overdrive. Curious talk about a slimmer, cheaper PS3 could be big news — and quite a shock to the system, as the hardware is but a few years young.

On the PSP side, we expect to see Patapon 2, LocoRoco 2 and... well, that's all we expect. Sony may surprise us with a few software announcements on the portable side, as Devil May Cry PSP rumors have begun popping up again recently, as has talk of a new portable Grand Theft Auto, but we're not holding our breath for Polyphony Digital to get around to the long-promised Gran Turismo Portable. Instead, we'll expect services style software revelations and maybe even a God of War: Chains of Olympus sequel.

It's doubtful that Sony will trot out new PSP hardware, as the device just received a model refresh later last year, news that was announced at E3 2006. Given that and the relatively young age of the hardware, we'd be surprised to see a PSP2 make an appearance next week.

Speaking of hardware, will Sony finally drop the price of the PlayStation 2 to $99?

What could potentially be most interesting is how the company plans to match Nintendo's offerings. Does Sony have its answer to Wii Fit ready? Can a rumored break-apart DualShock appeal to the masses? Will Life With PlayStation find a fan? Will it be the "Year of the PS3" or just another E3?

We'll find out next Tuesday, July 15 when Sony holds its press conference at The Shrine.

Read more E3 08 coverage right here.