Sony Nearly Dropped The Ball At E3, But Just Managed To Recover
We’re in the aftermath of E3, and it flew by like chocolates would when placed in front of me. Yesterday I wrote about Microsoft’s E3 press conference and applauded the job they did while also raising concerns over the long-term based on their strategy. Today I’ve moved my crosshair over to Sony, and as a PS4 owner I have a few words to share with my boys of the black and blue colour variety. Microsoft went at breakneck speed to show off as many games as possible in its ninety minutes of stage time, while EA sportsed us hard and Ubisoft gave all their interesting game footage away to Sony or Microsoft. At last it was Sony’s turn, and all the fans were tuned in to see if they would win E3 again. Personally, I think they came close to throwing it away, but managed to recover near the end.
That is to say I don’t believe Sony had the most entertaining conference or the best overall, and I would say my enthusiasm was more with Microsoft and Nintendo if I have to judge on an overall basis. However, I would probably conclude by saying that both Sony and Microsoft had strong conferences and the only people who actually won E3 2014 are the gamers, who have a hell of a time to look forward to over the next two years. But before getting all teary-eyed and talking about how happy I am as a gamer (which I won’t do), let’s dive into why I believe Sony came so close to throwing it all away.
Sony started off brightly. With some great announcements, more gameplay of The Order 1886 (which hasn’t convinced me of anything other than it’s astoundingly beautiful yet), the reveal of Little Big Planet 3, the white PS4 Destiny bundle, the exclusive reveal of GTA V on current-gen consoles and fantastic indie announcements with my favourite being that South African-made title Broforce is coming to PS4, Sony was killing it. And we had not even reached the hour mark. It felt at the time that if things carried on in his fashion, Sony would blow everyone else out of the park. There was still so much left of the conference that anything could happen. Maybe even the official reveal of The Last Guardian.
But that was wishful thinking, and I spectacularly lost a bet when The Last Guardian was once again ignored, and a nightmare began to rise to the surface as Sony devoted an entire 30-40 minute section to TV and comics and other such unnecessary things, while even the bought and paid for audience clap brigade began to get awkward. Look, I’m a huge admirer of Brian Bendis. Ultimate Spider-Man is one of my favourite comic books. But you could save that for Comic Con, or you could do your TV stuff in a press release or anything of the sorts. But instead you took a sizable chunk out of the conference and devoted it to a snore-fest, when your slogan clearly reads “For the Players”.
Now what made that segment so unbearable and sent my colleagues and I into pleas of a divine lightning strike, is that Sony was making the very mistake Microsoft was crucified for at their Xbox One reveal and past events. As a PS4 owner and also among those who criticised, I have to stand up and be fair. I’d like to believe I’m not an advocate for having double standards, and in this case I’m sorry but I didn’t tune into E3 to see PlayStation TV from the company that advertises itself as being for the players. If you want to make announcements regarding TV and comics, that is fine. But don’t eat up half an hour of your gaming press conference. All of those announcements could have been made in five minutes flat, while the comic related content could have been kept for Comic Con or something.
Fortunately, as disappointed and put off as I was by that, Sony managed to recover towards the end with exclusive reveals of Mortal Kombat X and Batman Arkham Knight, as well as a beyond-believable visual teaser for Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End. While the TV section completely killed Sony’s momentum and strong push, I have to give credit that they at least ended in style and not by putting everyone off to sleep. Yes, I am aware that in total you did indeed dedicate roundabout the same amount of time Microsoft did to gaming. This is a truth. But it all comes down to one simple thing and that thing is fairness in trying to eliminate your own double standards. If you are going to criticise Microsoft for their TV and sports and for shying away from gaming, then it can’t be alright for Sony just because PS4 lights your tits on fire and has teraflops. That can’t be acceptable standards.
Maybe all that TV stuff does appeal to some people out there somewhere. But if the live audience reaction and the gamer reactions I was exposed to are any indication to go by, then it’s not exactly any of the riveting things you want to see for a solid half an hour or more at a gaming conference. A lesson in future would be that you should keep those announcements succinct, because you really can fire them off in under ten minutes without pausing every minute to wait for undeserved applause or those that you paid for, or you can keep them for press releases and such. But it is not fair for something to be bad for one company but alright for another. If it wasn’t for the fact that Sony had a really strong conference and ended the night well, I would have walked away seriously disappointed.
As it is I’m satisfied but I’m also aware of how close Sony came to completely dropping the ball and throwing away what was starting to look like a great victory. Perhaps it’s telling that Sony had to bring in ten minutes more of TV time because they forgot The Last Guardian demo back at Team ICO’s studios.