Why Sony Won E3 2014
Keeping the upper hand.
Microsoft did a decent job this E3, and have made considerable effort to mop up the mess from that disastrous Xbox One unveiling last year. Their conference was tight and lean, throwing out game after game with only the barest minimum of tedious waffle. I applaud Phil Spencer's direction and leadership since he inherited the captain's seat, and after this week I honestly believe the Xbox One will, at some point, have a bright and rosy future. But, with all that being said, Sony came out ahead at E3 2014.
Sony managed to show off more games that I, a 27-year-old male with an addiction to fried potatoes, would like to play. It's that simple. The disparity between the two companies was even more prominent outside of those big-budget press conferences and on the E3 show floor itself--Sony peppered its entire booth area with interesting, unique titles that we might be able to play (or, to be more apt, download) over the next few months.
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Dial it back a few days to the battle of the press conferences, and the big three were all guilty of tantalising us with games that won't be out until 2015. You won't be playing Uncharted 4, Bloodborne, Halo 5: Guardians, or that utterly sumptuous The Legend of Zelda for Wii U anytime soon, no matter how good they all look.
I'd also argue Sony and Microsoft are about even when it comes to their big-budget games for 2014: LittleBigPlanet 3, DriveClub, and The Last of Us Remastered don't necessarily sound like much, but I would argue they're about on par with The Master Chief Collection, Forza Horizon 2, and Sunset Overdrive. Nintendo platforms, meanwhile, are nothing but sporadic (but often outstanding) first-party releases, and Hyrule Warriors is going to have a hard time appealing to audiences outside of Japan. It seems that 2014 is not going to go in the history books as a triumphant year for the big-budget first-party exclusives, even if those are traditionally the types of games that can really drive console sales.
So what's left? If there's one thing I think Sony currently understands ahead of its competition, it's that I play games for the whole year. Its E3 booth was packed with dozens and dozens of games, and within half a minute of entering Sony's space I walked past Velocity 2X, Nidhogg, Axiom Verge, Murasaki Baby, Entwined, and Counterspy. All of those games looked absolutely fantastic, and will help supply the platform with a week-in, week-out stream of quality titles for the eight months of the year we're not gorging through exciting holiday titles like Destiny, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, and Far Cry 4.
So while I think some of the middle sections of Sony's E3 2014 press conference were limp and boring--I often like to say that there's always a period in the middle of a Sony E3 press conference where you forget what it feels like to not be watching a Sony E3 press conference--I'd argue the company has the right idea of what it wants the PlayStation 4 and the PlayStation Vita to be. The Vita has transmogrified into a lovable companion device that just so happens to play many of the neat downloadable titles its bigger, more successful brother also does. The PS4, however, just wants to be your go-to console, and right now it appears to have the right mix of technology and popularity to ensure it stays that way.
Talking to people around the show, it feels like Sony has been setting itself up for this moment for years. After being forced to eat its fair share of humble pie during the PS3-era, Sony has now spent considerable effort to build up its relationships with publishers and developers, and has employed the right people to make sure that those making games are tempted to release them for a Sony platform. That's why I love Sony to pieces right now. Microsoft, to its credit, is gaining ground, but after this E3 showing, it feels like the team at Redmond still have some ways to go before they've caught up.
For more discussion, catch up on GameSpot's full E3 opinion round up right here.