11th Jun2013

Sony Wins E3, and Possibly the Next Generation of Gaming

by Chris Barber

As the PS3, Xbox 360, and Nintendo Wii reached the end of their life cycles, the big three video game companies were certainly scrambling to find what innovation would win the next generation of consoles. And who could have guessed that it might be, well, not really changing anything? While the Wii U was released ┬ánovember last year, it has suffered from a small library of games, leaving Microsoft and Sony gearing up for a showdown this June at E3, one of the largest industry expositions, at which they were both expected to reveal their new consoles. (This technically makes the 8th generation of consoles, but we already just started saying “next-gen” last generation so I’m not sure where that leaves us.)

05-21-xbox-one

After a lackluster announcement in February in which Sony told us almost nothing about the Playstation 4 – they didn’t even show the console itself – MIcrosoft seemed poised for the kill. But they decided to pre-empt E3, announcing the Xbox One in a press conference in late May, and was immediately panned by critics. While there are some neat features, like integration with Microsoft Smartglass, many fans balked at the new Xbox’s supposed restrictions on used games and game trading – there may or may not be fees associated, zealous digital rights management by requiring the Xbox One to connect to the internet every 24 hours, a high price point at 499$, and no apparent innovations except for a built in Kinect, which would always be on – leading some to voice privacy concerns over having an HD camera with a direct link to microsoft in their living rooms. All of which left the internets calling the thing the “Xbone” and wondering whether Microsoft took one step forward or 359 backwards. Then, yesterday at E3, Sony does this:

That’s one of what fans are calling Sony’s “FU Microsoft” slides. Apparently put together at the last minute in Powerpoint, this part of Sony’s press conference won cheers and thunderous applause – announcing no more than features that everyone had already had in the last generation. Meanwhile, Sony released a video on youtube called the “Official Playstation Used Game Instructional Video” bashing Microsoft’s restrictions by showing how to share games on playstation: hand the game to somebody. Plus, they talked about a few cool features like full integration with the PS Vita and the ability for indie developers to self-publish. And perhaps the best part? The PS4, while featuring basically the same hardware as the Xbox One (minus the Kinect), it’ll be exactly 100$ less at 399$.

Meanwhile, Microsoft brought a press conference to E3 that was “all about the games”. Now, if you’ve just announced a new console and you make your press conference “all about the games” something is clearly amiss. Announcing a new Halo (surprise, Master Chief is back… again) and a slew of other titles, they avoided talking about the new console – probably scared that they’d find some other way to alienate fans. Redditor lolmycat summed up his feelings about Microsoft and the Chief:

So the videogame press and nerds everywhere are hailing Sony as the winners of E3 and the leaders going into the next generation, mostly because they didn’t do anything but wait for their competition to shoot itself in the foot. Microsoft took away features from the Xbox One that gamers expect, Sony didn’t, and priced their console cheaper. More features + cheaper price is a pretty simple marketing win. To recap, as redditor Shadow8P put it: Microsoft has Halo, while Sony has offline play, used games, better hardware and a lower price. The final score? Xbox: one, Playstation: four.

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