After what is being rightfully called one of the best E3’s in years, many are weighing in about who can claim the crown of the winner. I covered the entire week on my stream and had a great time discussing the games and announcements with my viewers. The question I consistently got was: “Who is the winner of this E3?” For a while I talked about how both Sony and Microsoft brought their A-game and that each presentation was distinct, but I finally settled on the answer that gamers are the winner this year. I will have a future post about the obvious loser, Nintendo, and how disappointing it was. For now I want to talk about how Microsoft aims to close the gap in sales with Sony and what continues to distinguish each console from the other.
What I found refreshing about both presentations was how distinct and polished they were. There were no flubs, no missteps, and nothing that felt cheesy or over done. And the more I thought about them the more apparent it became that they are evolving into very different consoles that are targeting different consumers and games. Yes, there will be a continuous stream of a great, top shelf, cross-platform games as Fall Out 4 and all the Tom Clancy games showed. But Microsoft focused heavily on exclusives and multiplayer and Sony came out strong with aesthetically beautiful and graphically strong games that were understandably and necessarily single player. So let’s breakdown what I’m pulling this from.
XBOX – Exclusives & Multiplayer
Microsoft has a long list of exclusives that offer multiplayer in a variety of ways and this is where they distinguished themselves from Sony. And the list is pretty stout with respect to fan base and customer loyalty with games like Halo 5 and Gears 4 included. In addition to those two pillars of multiplayer gaming there is also brand new multiplayer IP’s in Gigantic and and Sea of Thieves. And it has to be pointed out that Sea of Thieves is from Rare and will come on the heels and hype of Rare Replay. In tandem with the surprising and welcome announcement of backwards compatibility, it was exciting to see an infusion of nostalgia into the gaming industry with 30 old-school titles for $30. Not only did Microsoft firmly establish their aim to offer solid exclusive titles that have multiplayer they also showed forward thinking and efforts with new hardware. The new elite controller certainly is not cheap, but it is in line with showing the serious competitive multiplayer gamers they have a gaming home on the XBOX. And the HoloLens demo was undeniably a high point for the entire E3 week. We have all heard about VR (virtual reality) and how it is coming to gaming, but seeing it in action with a popular game like Minecraft wasn’t just brilliant, it was the perfect capstone to solidifying the Xbox One as a console with future potential and appeal. They have also made a clear aim at shrinking the distance between XBOX One sales and PS4 sales with backwards compatibility. There is a massive community of XBOX players who are still on the 360, and many more who have been waiting to buy next-gen until a new Halo game is launched. So this holiday there will be a full court press from Microsoft to get any and all 360 owners to make that switch with almost no reason to stay behind and plenty of reasons to move forward.
PLAYSTATION – Aesthetically Beautiful & Singleplayer
Sony wasted no time wowing viewers with graphically strong and unique brand new IP’s. The Last Guardian, No Man’s Sky, and Horizon all had my jaw resting firming on my desk. As an XBOX ONE owner I had my desire for a PlayStation 4 firmly established after the seed was planted with No Man’s Sky footage from a year ago. What was almost as surprising as the new and amazing games was how flat and boring other big titles appeared. In a way, Sony’s platform is becoming a scary place to develop a game for when games like Call of Duty and Destiny end up looking pretty ho-hum in comparison to the big titles that push the boundaries and carry the console forward. And to a certain degree there was a thread of justice in watching repackaged ideas and stolen mechanics fall flat in the Black Ops 3 reveal and the vague non-specific hype for Destiny. The other thing I found strange was how basic Uncharted 4 ended up feeling coming at the end of the press conference, and that’s not to say the game won’t be a blast, but when the bar starts so high it is difficult to keep jumping over it. So many Sony should rethink press order to all the newer and more impressive games come at the end to allow the more established franchises hit a better stride. Because if I was Bungie or Treyarch I would be requesting a different order next year. In any case, it was very clear by the end of the presentation that Sony was declaring that if you want the biggest and best graphically impressive games, you have to buy a PlayStation 4.
Gamers a Winner is You
In my opinion the tired and unhelpful console war tribalism has less traction after this year’s E3. I continue to say that your platform of choice for gaming is about your desires and expectations that are met in a PC, Xbox, or Playstation. Many of us prefer to play with our friends and have found the Xbox platform to be the easiest and most streamlined way to do that. Some look to PC’s, overclocking hardware, and maxing the graphics on a game as what matters the most to them. And some want the best graphics but prefer to avoid the hassle of PC gaming with respect to drivers and hardware upgrades so the Playstation 4 is a happy medium. And after E3 this year we can start to focus more on the question, “What are you looking for as a gamer?” and use that as the determining factor in the best platform for you, instead of cliche debates and unhelpful graphical comparisons. It’s time to see the competition between the platforms, and specifically the consoles, as something that benefits gamers. There is no master race, there is only one race with respect to gaming: we are all gamers. So if you’re a gamer, let go of the master race ego stroke and enjoy the future onslaught of next-generation gaming and entertainment as we all stand to benefit from the growth and innovation within the industry.
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