Sony Had The Worst Gamescom Conference, But Made The Most Important Announcement
If you suffer from “too long, didn’t read” syndrome, the video up above covers the content, courtesy of me! Below is if you’re unable to watch or would rather read.
Today I’m going to be discussing a topic that’s been on my mind of course since Tuesday’s Gamescom. Now, before you go and say that this is some sensationalist attempt to shower Microsoft with praise and try to introduce some more Sony hate into the world, I’d like to advise you to take a browse at my previous videos and understand that I’m a proud and happy PlayStation owner counting the days until I can pick up a PS4 at launch.
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So can we get the “ermagerd more Sony hate” out of our systems? Right.
Now, having loved the crap out of E3 this year, I was itching in anticipation to see more PS4 game announcements at Gamescom and just enjoy experiencing what’s in store for gamers. However, Sony’s Gamescom conference seemed to play out much like their E3 conference, except without all the buzz. Far too much desperate attempts to focus on Vita despite the lack of exclusive titles on the device (and yes I’m a Vita owner too), some more non-gaming related and entertainment features and a lot more focus on indie. Except, there wasn’t a new game announcement to be seen anywhere, and instead we were treated to the same major players in the form of Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag and Watch Dogs (both of which I’m tired of seeing by now), Killzone: Shadow Fall and Infamous: Second Son.
Look, I adore indie tremendously, you all know that if you have any prior knowledge of my articles and videos. And the sheer amount of indie focus is certainly doing fantastic things for Sony’s reputation. But I felt that, I wanted to see what the PS4 was going to bring me, and the conference just dragged on far too long with barely anything to elicit even mild arousal. I stayed flaccid throughout its entire duration almost. Sorry to put that image in your head. Sure Infamous is looking like the sexiest piece of ass on the PS4 and it’s my number one title right now, Killzone: Shadow Fall continues to look great, Shadow of The Beast is damn gorgeous and remote play was finally shown off, and of course there were plenty of other indie titles that looked exciting and awesome. But this is really the third big time conference in a row where we’ve seen the same four games. I was hoping to even glimpse gameplay of The Order 1886, or at least see one new PS4 announcement considering that Sony were hyping up Gamescom beforehand.
It was subdued, and pretty underwhelming. If I have to be honest though, I felt most of Gamescom was underwhelming with not a whole lot to be excited about overall – it was pretty much of a letdown event to me, and the trailers and such that released after Tuesday were of far more interest. However, I found more to smile about during Microsoft’s conference. Yeah sue me. But taking into account everything I’ve just said, and despite having arguably the worst conference at Gamescom, Sony ended up making the most important announcement. That is, that the PS4 would be releasing this year, in November, in 32 countries. Even in my country, South Africa, there was quick confirmation that it would get here in early December. There will be no Xbox One here this year.
Now, if you recall a while back, Microsoft previously announced that the Xbox One would be out in 21 countries this year, but that figure has since been reduced to 13. I was first pretty taken back by this at first because I was quite sure Microsoft’s distribution was top notch, but after thinking about it I realised quickly enough that, while many fans thought the one-eighty policy turnaround was so easy for Microsoft, the consequences of it were quite severe. Imagine all the red tape they had to go through, all the features they had to reverse or bury, the changes they had to make to the Xbox One’s functionality, the fact that Microsoft went from zero indie policies to matching Sony’s and then developing Xbox Independent, the costs involved in getting developers on board – all this and more has to be seriously big expenses.
More significantly, you also need to remember that during that entire one-eighty phase, Microsoft were making no real progress, but playing catch up. What I mean by that is that they weren’t advancing their console, but paying lots of money to get back to “acceptable level”, also known as ground zero. In a way, it was very much like dead expenses. Entirely necessary, but real progress wasn’t being made. It was all reactive, and not proactive.
Once the one eighty happened, I had many discussions with the eGamer team about it and we concluded that technically Microsoft of course could not have lost with their new vision. Either fans accepted it and they gained mass praise for innovation, or it didn’t work out (which is what happened due to their bad communication and attitudes) and then they simply reversed the policies and regained fan love. However, now it’s emerging that there are serious consequences to those actions, and it wasn’t all that simple.
Look, I want Microsoft and Xbox One to do well. Being a PlayStation fan doesn’t make me hate the other console. Ideally, I’d like to play all the games on all the consoles and exist in a world where we just get kick ass games and all like hug each other like Happy Tree Friends. But the one eighty has posed some long-term problems for Microsoft, because often it’s about getting there first. Sony currently has a 19 country advantage and two month head-start over Microsoft in many regions. Let’s work with a small, hypothetical example. Let’s say we take a very low figure and say that 100 000 units get sold in each of those 19 countries during the two months free period. That’s a guaranteed nearly two million consoles sold before Microsoft even enters those markets, of course excluding game sales and social groups formed and the whole rest of it. Microsoft, even once entering those markets, will have missed Christmas, which means many consumers have spent tons of cash and are kinda depleted, and still launch at a $100 more than the PS4.
What I’m highlighting here is not the apocalypse of the Xbox One, but that Microsoft faces a bit of an uphill battle with their console, and they may get off to a rocky start post launch. It’s a similar, although less drastic, version of what happened at the start of this generation, where Microsoft had a huge head start with the Xbox 360. How quickly Microsoft can bounce back from this disadvantage remains to be seen, and will be the mark of their character, but it’s definitely going to be interesting to see from here on out.
The one concern I do have is that, after watching Sony’s Gamescom conference, I’m a bit worried there may possibly be some complacency there. Yes I know there are close to two hundred PS4 titles currently in development and we’re still far away from launch and next-gen so most games are still in alpha or not ready to be shown or announced, but it’s easy to kick back a bit when you’re so much on the up. I just hope Sony doesn’t forget that there’s still a long way to go, and if Microsoft’s fiasco earlier this year proved anything, it’s that gamers want games, and a bit less of television, sports, Twitch and entertainment media. Yes, those are all important, but they’re not the core reason you buy a gaming console. And really, I just want to see more exclusives get announced and more gamer-centered features announced in the coming days.
And that’s all I have to say for today. Underwhelmed by Sony’s Gamescom conference, but the release date announcement was a pretty big statement that leaves Microsoft a bit disadvantaged. If there’s one thing next-gen is, it’s certainly drama-filled and interesting. And who knows, this could all change by the end of next week as that seems to be the trend of all this.