Let’s face it; for the past two or three years, Sony has cleaned house at E3.
Focusing on games and exclusive title releases, Sony was constantly forcing the attention onto itself, effectively kicking Xbox into touch. Having just watched this year’s Xbox show at E3 however, you can definitely be sure that Microsoft is finally punching back.
Microsoft just took the fight directly to Sony. A few months back, Microsoft announced that it was moving this year’s show to be before Bethesda’s. This was already an aggressive move, showing that this year they weren’t going to sit back and let other companies steal the focus for too long. This move will also give Microsoft more time to really be in the limelight before Sony can steal it away. Even though I am and always have been a die-hard PlayStation fan, I have to say that Xbox has made a strong statement to Sony.
Firstly, Microsoft made the right decision in releasing its long-awaited “Project Scorpio” at E3. Sony previously made the mistake of dedicating an entire press event to revealing its half-step iteration of their flagship console. How did that turn out, you ask? Not so well. The PS4 Pro’s reveal wasn’t too well received by fans and the media alike, showing that Sony can occasionally still be the company we weren’t too keen on from last generation. However, Microsoft had time to learn from that error, and instead, made a short and snappy reveal in the opening minutes of its E3 show that instantly put the audience in the palm of its hand. The newly revealed Xbox One X doesn’t have an air of pointlessness about it like the PS4 Pro did. Microsoft is treating this like a new console launch entirely, not a forced half-step that wasn’t asked for. If you’re a Microsoft fan, you have plenty to be excited about, as this seems like a Microsoft that is starting anew with their hardware family, ready to set aside the past few years of being dominated and bullied by Sony.
During the show, Microsoft used a few Sony tactics from previous years of success. Phil Spencer even stepped on Sony’s rhetoric a few times, saying that “if you haven’t joined the Xbox One family, now’s the time.” Moreover, Kareem Choudhry, head of Xbox Software Engineering did the same, saying that “from the beginning,” their focus was on “game creators, and you, the gamer.” I, for one, completely disagree with that last statement, but nonetheless, Xbox just used the line that set Sony up for three years of domination over the console market. Surprisingly enough, it seemed to get the audience pretty excited. Afterall, what do gamers like? Games.
Speaking of which, Sony’s format for last year proved to be crushing for all the other shows. Without too much developer-speak out front, they just went from trailer to trailer; strength to strength. This is exactly what Xbox did this year. Right away it shone a light on the fact that it would showcase 42 games on stage, with 22 of which being console exclusives. Forgive me if I’m wrong here, but hasn’t the exclusive library of the PlayStation 4 been something that’s vastly set it apart from the Xbox One? Amazing, then, that Microsoft has seriously upped their exclusive game for this year. The media had frequently asked in this last calendar year where Xbox’s exclusives were, seeing as Sony were showing off so many for the coming years. But simply showing 22 games at one show gives everyone a bit more to sink their teeth into.
Finally, just when you thought Xbox had done enough to set a pretty high standard for this year’s E3, it hammered one sloppy pitch from Sony out of the park. The Xbox has, in recent years, been trying to crack the code of backward compatibility. It has delivered a new list of Xbox 360 games almost weekly that Xbox One owners can play if they’ve previously owned them. On the other hand, Sony hasn’t put in such an effort despite the constant outcries from their fans to get on the issue. This year, Phil Spencer announced that Microsoft is going to be continuing work one Xbox 360 compatibility, as well as introducing original Xbox backward compatibility. It has to be said; this is a huge blow to Sony. It’s hard not to be a frustrated Sony fan when Xbox owners are going to be able to play games from two generations back while we’re stuck with nothing but a pretty poor streaming service. PS2 backward compatibility could potentially put this current console generation to bed, but just now it looks like a distant dream.
Either way, the bar has been well and truly set. The gaming world now looks with keen eyes to see which Sony will show up to this year’s E3.