The annual E3 conference is always a big deal for gamers and
industry observers, but this year's show felt especially pivotal.
everything but the kitchen sink
Microsoft made a number of strategic errors in the Xbox One
launch -- it installed onerous Internet check-in requirements,
added restrictions on used games, and included the Kinect motion
control system, which resulted in a
$100 price premium
to the PlayStation 4.
Sony capitalized on Microsoft's mistakes, pushing the PlayStation
4 as a truly gamer-friendy device and effectively painting
Microsoft as evil.
E3 2014 kicked off yesterday, and that means Microsoft had the
opportunity to publicly take a pound of flesh out of the Sony
Here's what I saw.
1) Microsoft Is All About Gaming
At last year's E3 event, Microsoft aggressively positioned the
Xbox One as an all-in-one entertainment device.
It pulled a 180 this year, focusing entirely on games, with a
heavy focus on hard-core franchises like
Halo, Forza Motorsport,
Call of Duty.
This was the right move to make. This early in the cycle, most
buyers are serious gamers, and their needs to be met if Microsoft
is to cut down
2) PlayStation TV Is a Potential Winner
Sony is bringing its Vita TV streaming set-top box to North
America under the name PlayStation TV.
PlayStation TV can play most Playstation Vita (Sony's handheld)
games, stream PlayStation 4 games to different TVs around a
house, and stream older console games through the upcoming
PlayStation Now service.
Assuming PlayStation TV ends up with a robust lineup of media
), Hulu Plus, and
), its gaming capabilities could give it a serious advantage over
) TV and
3) Halo Can't Get Here Soon Enough
Microsoft showed a trailer for
Halo 5: Guardians
, giving a glimpse into the next update for the Xbox' flagship
However, it's not coming until fall 2015. That's basically the
same timing between the release of last generation's Xbox 360 and
-- about 22 months.
Microsoft will release a multiplayer beta for
this December, at least three full quarters ahead of the official
To keep Xbox fans happy in the meantime, Microsoft is releasing
Halo: The Master Chief Collection
, a compilation of past
Microsoft is pushing really hard to get
content in front of potential Xbox One buyers, which speaks to a
sense of urgency -- or perhaps paranoia.
Playdead Studios' trippy adventure game
blew my mind, looking like a cross between a Pixar movie and a
bad acid trip:
will debut on Xbox One in the first half of 2015. It won't move
hardware for Microsoft, but it does represent a compelling
mindset in terms of creative direction that will hopefully be
rewarded by consumers
Playdead's 2010 title
, which had a similarly dark motif, was critically well-received
and generated strong sales for an independent title.
(EA), Activision, and Ubisoft do a great job with the mega-budget
hardcore games. It's refreshing to see smaller companies stepping
up with these types of oddball innovations.
5) And So Does
No Man's Sky
I'm not really sure what's going on with
Dead Man's Sky
, but it's generating a lot of buzz among gamers.
The visuals are bizarre and beautiful, and the gameplay features
both dinosaurs and space battles.
This creation from
will debut on PlayStation 4, and purports to have a "procedurally
generated universe," which means the game's infinite world will
be generated according to an algorithm. That could mean endless
variety and replay value.
Each side had some notable software exclusives, like
The Order 1886
for PlayStation 4 and
Forza Horizon 2
for Xbox One, and there was no knockout blow landed by either
If I had to choose, I'd say Sony edged out Microsoft in terms of
public perception, though perhaps that victory gets a bit
diffused since many of the big games at E3 -- like
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare
Assassin's Creed Unity --
will be available on both PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
Sony's still got momentum on it's side, and Microsoft did nothing
to disrupt it.