Before E3 began this year, people were talking about how the expo is outdated and needs to adapt. However when the event kicked off, all the usual hype was there and all the big players in the industry were out in force putting on epic shows and treated it as an important event for getting their new projects into the conscious of the gaming public.
The turnout of games this year has been the big talking point, gaming is not dying and console gaming is still strong but (as we are about to discuss) the model is changing. So out of the big two hardware manufacturers & publishers, who won E3 2016?
Sony and Microsoft both delivered two solid press conferences. Microsoft laid down the gauntlet and shared their vision for the future, they have changed their messaging, they get it, they hear gamer’s crys and they’ve adapted since the Xbox One reveal. They showed a ridiculously wide range of quality games including Tekken 7 (once a powerhouse title for PlayStation), Forza Horizon 3, Gears Of War 4, Dead Rising 4, Final Fantasy XV, Sea of Thieves, Recore and so much more. The main talking point however was aimed at Microsoft’s new vision and hardware.
The rumors were true, they announced a slimmer Xbox One S for later this year and also introduced us to their upcoming 4K version of the Xbox One ‘Project Scorpio’. Microsoft managed to get the messaging spot on for both reveals, driving home the message of ‘No Gamer Left Behind’ with all games & peripherals being supported across all the hardware variations – Something Sony’s NEO has us concerned about.
Project Scorpio is being hailed as the most powerful console ever (important to some but not to this writer) and is due out next year. It does cast a slight shadow over the new Xbox One S, which will convolute the ‘hold out or buy now’ options for people on the fence who are yet to pick up current gen console. Scorpio is seemingly being lined up to support VR, with rumors suggesting an Oculus Rift partnership, only time will tell if those rumors are true. Microsoft also managed to introduce a shared gaming experience, bridging the gap between Xbox and PC. Buy certain titles once and play them on both platforms, sounds pretty sweet if you are a Microsoft or PC gamer and a great way to encourage PC gamers to make the move to console whilst retaining their games library.
Sony’s Conference was almost a polar opposite to the Microsoft show in almost every way. Sony have already cemented their messaging and double downed on the PlayStation brand and as such they let the games do the talking. They showed a staggering amount of top quality titles such as God of War, a new Spiderman game, Days Gone, Detroit: Almost Human, The Last Guardian, Horizon Zero Dawn, The new Kojima game ‘Death Stranding’ and many more.
As expected, Playstation VR was always going to be a big focus of Sony’s conference but surprisingly, they kept it lean, all killer no filler. They introduced a load of content for the new peripheral and whilst limited indication was given to gameplay huge gaming staples like Batman, Resident Evil, A Star Wars Experience, Final Fantasy XV and more were shown off. For some though, the highlight of the show was the big reveal of Crash Bandicoot coming back home to PS4 with all three first games getting the re-master treatment. After years of rumors, some small teases and a hell of a lot of guessing, they finally pulled it out the bag – although perhaps not as many would of hoped with a completely new Crash game.
Sony did add some real showmanship to their PlayStation Conference, they had a great live orchestra playing along to the games on display, even playing the Crash Bandicoot theme. Of course the biggest reveal happened when none other than Hideo Kojima came on stage. The floor lit up underneath him, this was Sony’s way of being proud to have him back, and quite right so, they should make a show out of having him there, he is one of the most acclaimed game developers alive and now he’s back waving the PlayStation flag.
Overall both conferences were rather different, one was able to get people believing in the brand once more and the other re-affirmed a position of putting games first. Both the conferences were tight, there was little downtime (remember the Sony Move Wonderbook demo?). Both companies managed to grab headlines, they kept gaming at the forefront and gave people what they wanted. This year’s E3 was a master class in ‘lessons learnt’ for both companies. After years of putting on these press events, they have finally worked it out. This is the public’s event, not some dry investors show and tell and because of this we get the top line stuff with little filler that we’re all wanting to see.
For my money it was very close to call but Sony came out just in front, primarily to their big show stealing reveals of the return of Crash and Hideo Kojima’s Death Stranding. With Microsoft holding their own and an excellent line up of games in the near future we can be certain that next year’s E3 is going to be even tougher to call. Of course, that’s good for us gamers as we’ll be getting the quality content we’re all after! Long live videogames!
What was your favourite moments of both press conferences and do you feel one edged the other? Which games are you most looking forward to see over the next year? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!
For more on all the E3 news check out our roundup!
Jake Buchanan | @HDD_Heart