Each year at E3, we know that the head-to-head battle to watch will be Sony vs. Microsoft and their consoles PlayStation vs. Xbox. Nintendo had a lot to be proud of with their Switch, but the dueling companies still upstaged them.
Microsoft seemed sure to win the battle this year with their Project Scorpio aka Xbox One X, but Sony’s deluge of Uncharted, Horizon Zero Dawn and Days Gone took the wind out of their sails.
There were few surprises overall, and most of the big titles were expansions of things we’ve seen snippets of before. Taken on its own, it might be considered a more lackluster performance than year’s past. But as I mentioned, this thing is never judged on its own.
Ever since 2013, Sony has managed to stay on top at E3 almost by default. It won on price in 2013, it won with sales momentum in 2014, and it’s won with exclusives ever since. It’s that last one that was on full display here: Microsoft gave a good show, no doubt. It successfully debuted the sleek little Xbox One, which is clearly the most powerful console ever made. But hardware on its own doesn’t show very well up on stage, especially iterative hardware like the PlayStation 4 Pro or Xbox One X. E3 shows are, now more than ever, about games, and Microsoft lacked a marquee exclusive to really tie the show together: the closest it got was Crackdown 3, which doesn’t quite feel ready for center stage.
And that’s where Sony comes in. In addition to those games from earlier, we saw God of War, Shadow of the Colossus and enough exclusive content from Destiny 2 to actually move the needle. We saw Playstation VR, still something of a quixotic platform but something wholly missing from Microsoft’s console lineup. We saw Detroit: Become Human, which I’m probably going to hate. But we also saw an amazing looking Spiderman, and franchises that big just aren’t usually exclusive. There was no true standout this year — The Last of Us Part 2 didn’t take that spot, for some reason — but any one of the games that Sony devoted so much time to could have served that purpose for Microsoft. The gulf is just very wide at this point.
Deciding who won E3 isn’t necessarily who has the better platform, though that never hurts. E3 is, at the end of the day, a show, and one that’s grown more and more consumer-facing over the years. Sony understands that, and its stable of exclusives help to keep that show moving with the relentless pace the company prefers. Microsoft had a lot to love yesterday, particularly with its surprise announcement of backwards compatibility, a category Sony shows real weakness in. But again, it’s all about the show. And Sony remains in the enviable position of being able to remind people that PlayStation 4 is an incredible platform rather than having to convince them. It did that tonight.
E3, the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo, opened Tuesday in Los Angeles with thousands of video game enthusiasts, analysts and industry representatives in attendance to play and show off the latest technology that will soon be hitting store shelves.
The show at the Los Angeles Convention Center has typically only been open to those in the industry and media that cover it. But this year organizers allowed 15,000 members of the general public onto the show floor.
“This is like the Mecca of the gaming industry so to be here is like a huge honor to be able to come here and see what’s going on and get the first glimpse of all the greatest stuff coming out,” said Bob Lease, who traveled from Pennsylvania to attend the show.
Analysts say one of the biggest announcements this year came from Microsoft with the release of its Xbox One X, claimed to be the most powerful gaming console ever made.
It’s intended to push the boundaries of gaming to make even more realistic visuals, said Ian Sherr, executive editor at CNET News.
“They’re trying to make them look like almost real life,” he said. “They want to be the video industry in the movie industry.”
E3 runs through Thursday with about 60,000 people expected to attend.