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June 10th 2013. The day the next generation console war truly began; and some my argue was also won. It was the day both Microsoft and Sony took to the stage to reveal games, hardware, release dates and importantly price points. Microsoft got the preceding started with a game heavy presentation that ended with the announcement the console will ship November 2013 for $499 (€499 £429). Sony followed in the evening presenting a broader spectrum of Playstation brand news, including the console reveal and a ‘Holiday Season 2013’ release date joining a price of $399 (€399 £349).
In the wake of the initial console reveals and how the rumour mill wasn’t far from catching light and burning all those to close; particularly regarding the Xbox One. It was interesting to watch the approach each company took; one being a lot more offensive than the other.
Microsoft were up first this year and everyone was eager to see whether they would address the elephant in the room. As many suspected, they didn’t. Microsoft focused heavily on games with only a honourary mention for the 360; a new redesigned model and the release of World Of Tanks. Wedged between the first and third-party titles was information about Smart Glass and Twitch integration, the ‘Upload Studio‘ function and the fact Microsoft are now switching from MS Points to real currency. The bulk of the conference was about games and what they showed was an impressive lineup.
The games Microsoft presented:
Kinect Sports: Rivals (exclusive), MGS:V, RYSE: Son Of Rome (exclusive), Killer Instinct (exclusive), Sunset Overdrive (exclusive), Forza 5 (exclusive), Minecraft (exclusive), Quantum Break, D4, Project Spark (exclusive), Crimson Dragon (exclusive), Dead Rising 3 (exclusive), Witcher 3, Battlefield 4, Halo (exclusive), TitanFall (exclusive*)
Microsoft showed a great array of games including a number of exclusive titles. The stand out game for me was MGS:V. As an MGS fan, securing an Xbox version of 5 is a big deal and great for Xbox owners; I’m surprised Sony couldn’t hold onto this exclusive. Unsurprisingly all the games looked beautiful although there was nothing that made my jaw drop. To the disappointment of some and unsurprisingly to most, Microsoft didn’t go into any detail about their used game policy or online requirements. Neither did they give the media the ability to ask them about it. For Microsoft this show was an in-and-out affair to display as many games as possible to entice gamer the Xbox One is worth the $499.
Sony took to the stage in the evening with an air of calm assurance about them. CEO of SCEA Jack Tretton opened with Vita and PS3 news, showing the content still to come for Sony’s current gen hardware. This moved swiftly onto the reveal of the PS4 hardware; A two-tone black rhombus shaped box, somewhat slimmer than the Xbox One. The actual reveal was almost understate, the box was just held aloft by Mr Tretton onstage following a short video.
Sony then briefly covered some media aspects of the new machine. Sony Picture will be integrated with the PS4 for music and video services, Redbox will be available to US customers and Flixster will also be available.
Sony then demoed a string of first party games coming to the PS4, although many had already been seen before at the initial announcement event. Following on from the first party Sony then spent an encouraging amount of time talking about its work with indie developers, Showcasing some of the new exciting games these developers have been working on exclusively for the PS4. Next was the third-party games of which many were shown with extended gameplay footage, something the Microsoft conference was without. Likewise with Microsoft, nothing I saw with the exception of The Dark Sorcerer blew me away. Many games looked great and I can’t wait to play them, especially Infamous: Second Son but my jaw didn’t hit the floor.
Games shown For the PS3:
Last Of Us, Puppeteer, Rain, Beyond:Two Souls, GT6, Batman:Origins, GTA5 PS3 bundle, Diablo 3.
For the PS4:
The Order (exclusive), Killzone ShadowFall (exclusive), DriveClub (exclusive), Infamous: Second Son (exclusive), Knack (exclusive), The Dark Sorcerer tech demo (exclusive), The Witness, Transistor, Final Fantasy 15, Kingdom Hearts 3 Remake, Assassins Creed: Black Flag, Watch_Dogs, NB2K1, The Elder Scrolls Online, Mad Max, Destiny.
Once the games were done Sony moved into the closing stages of their conference and sought I take giant strides towards securing a strong launch for the PS4. Sony made clear their policy on used/lending games and no online check-in requirements, which received a rapturous applause from those in attendance at the LA Convention Center. The ability to play certain games as they download, cross game chat and the expansion of Playstation Plus followed the used game announcement. A premier of extended gameplay for Destiny was then broadcast along with the announcement that Gaikai would be used in 2014 to access past game libraries. The final send off from Sony was the reveal of the launch price of $399 (£349), spawning more cheers from the pump-up crowd; allowing Tretton to crack a small smile.
It’s hard to deny Sony had an exceptional show and the popular census online is that Sony ‘Won’ E3 (IGN pole). While Microsoft did show more games and possibly had the better content, Sony brought everything back to the gamer, winning hearts and simultaneously hitting Microsoft right where it hurt. Despite all the furor surrounding the policies associated with the Xbox One I can’t see it being the deciding factor for the console. Sony’s $100 price advantage will be the biggest obstacle. Microsoft have between now and November to convince potential customers the One is worth the extra dollar. Unfortunately Microsoft have so far done very little in this department. The used games, DRM and online check-in fiasco coupled with Kinect privacy concerns have only served to become the cherry and sprinkles atop the cake Sony is currently eating.