Who Is In the Best Position After E3: Microsoft or Sony?

In this generation’s console war, who was left standing the tallest after E3? Microsoft or Sony?

Both companies had decent weeks at the show, but Microsoft clearly needed the best showing in order to try to win back some of the momentum they’ve lost to rival Sony over the last few months since the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One launched.

Let’s begin by looking at Microsoft and examining how they stand.

Slow and Steady

Microsoft’s press briefing on Monday was a tribute to gamers and all things gaming, focusing entirely on some of the titles people can expect to be playing on their console in the next couple years. While the idea and execution were brilliant, the content of the briefing was certainly subpar. Many of the games were some we already knew about, and the new titles announced were certainly nothing that rocked our worlds.

But that’s not to say their showing was a disappointment. Games like The Division, Halo: The Master Chief Collection, Call of Duty, Dragon Age, Evolve, and Sunset Overdrive gave the conference a level of excitement it needed. But all of these games had been revealed or shown to some degree, and nothing felt like a surprise that swung the tide dramatically in favor of Microsoft.

PlayStation on the other hand, made a massive blunder that could have potentially lost all the momentum it has garnered so far.

Uncharted Territory This Generation

The conference began with Destiny, followed by the announcement of a white PlayStation 4 and DualShock 4 controller. Sony then re-focused back on a long barrage of games, similar to how Microsoft did. They showed The Order: 1886, Little Big Planet 3, Bloodborne (which was a new announcement by the way), Far Cry 4, Battlefield: Hardline, and No Man’s Sky. But then, suddenly, Sony slipped on a slippery slope… They delved deep into their upcoming releases of PlayStation Now and PlayStation TV, which devolved into announcements of media streaming, TV shows, and other non-gaming information. It was all entirely unnecessary. Fortunately, they recovered at the last moment and ended the conference in dramatic fashion by showing The Last of Us Remastered, Grand Theft Auto V, and Uncharted 4.

Personally, I was horrified by those 20 minutes or so where Sony focused entirely on the sorts of things we like to bash Microsoft for focusing on in its unveiling of the Xbox One in May of last year. This didn’t seem like the appropriate time to be sharing this information, or at the very least, to be spending this much time on it. Had those 20 minutes not existed, Sony would have blown Microsoft out of the water.

But those 20 minutes did happen, and as a result, we now must weigh the consequences and decide how this will affect them in the future. To be honest, I was surprised how little online reaction I saw in regards to this blunder, and it’s possible I overreacted. Personally, I was on Twitter and texting with friends about how much I thought Sony was ruining it, how they were sinking themselves, and how the momentum just shifted in favor of Microsoft. But what most people seem to remember from this conference is No Man’s Sky, Destiny, and Uncharted, not the crap in the middle.

I’m actually quite excited about PlayStation TV and PlayStation Now, not because I want to watch TV or movies or anything, but because the device and service will allow me to stream PS4 games to a different TV in my house. This will come in handy when the TV that the PS4 is hooked up to is otherwise unavailable. Additionally, PlayStation TV and PlayStation Now will allow me to stream PlayStation titles I don’t currently own directly to my TV. So, for example, as much as I’d love to play Gran Turismo 6, I didn’t want to buy it with Driveclub in the imminent future. But in a couple years after I’ve beaten the world in DC, I can buy or rent GT6 and stream it directly to my TV.

So really, I’m not upset about what Sony shared at the conference (except the whole comic book TV show thing – seriously what the hell?), it’s just that this didn’t need to be shared at this conference in so much detail.

Congrats! You Didn’t Screw Up!

I truly believe Microsoft won the day at E3 this year, and not because they had an amazing conference, but because they didn’t screw up. Phil Spencer, Microsoft’s Head of Xbox, led the way and gave gamers exactly what they wanted: games. There weren’t any major new reveals, which in the end may be good, considering the nature of today’s industry and the inevitable delays, but it was decent. I have to tip my hat to Microsoft and say their future looks much brighter this year than it did after last year’s gut punch from Sony.

Sony, you messed up. It may not hurt you dramatically, but if you’d left out the junk in the middle, I believe you had a chance to deal a severe blow to your competitor. Not a knockout punch, as it would take more than a snappy E3 conference to take down Xbox, but it could have been enough to build on your lead.

In the end, I’m happy Sony did screw up. It’s better for gamers when consoles are truly competing for our business. I don’t want a world where one console is dominant, because that company then loses all incentive to innovate. My biggest fear is that Sony will get complacent, arrogant, or even worse, indifferent. They have a sizable lead over Microsoft right now, but all it would take is a few executives thinking they are invincible to ruin all they’ve built so far.

So, how do we stand after E3? Solid. Sony is in great shape, and they just need to keep their wits about them. Microsoft is improving and getting better every month. It won’t be long before they catch and maybe even surpass sales of the PlayStation 4. But regardless of who leads in sales, what matters is that gamers win in the end. Because when Microsoft and Sony continue to try to outdo the other, that can only mean good news for us.

Congratulations Microsoft on “winning” E3 by not over-showing your hand. Sony went all-in when they didn’t need to, and you clearly have a few tricks left up your sleeve. The ball is now in your court to do with as you will. Let’s see what the next year brings.

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