So the big two have finally locked horns and it really has turned into a bit of a blood bath. June 10th 2013 will be remembered for Microsoft’s nearly moment and for that speech. I refer of course to Sony’s Jack Tretton who went for the jugular and wasn’t going to let go.
All about the Games
Microsoft kicked off the day looking to claw back the gaming fans that it seemed to have abandoned during its reveal event in May.
They really were all about games at this years E3
They really were all about the games at this year’s E3. One after another the games kept coming but as I watched them come and go I really couldn’t get too excited about a lot of them.
Take Crytek’s Ryse for example. The demo looked impressive and it did hold my attention but then came the quick time events. Oh the QTEs. So many of them it just became embarrassing, it really was at this moment that I switched off and lost all interest in the game.
The first game they showed off that really kept my interest was Insomniac’s Sunset Overdrive but I would have liked to have seen some gameplay.
As their conference went on none of what was being shown to me was doing it for me. Not even Dead Rising 3 and I am a massive fan of the franchise. In fact, I got really annoyed at this game because I could easily see myself playing it with no sound as the voice of the main character was really pissing me off.
Why, oh why, did you need to make the main character some preppy guy who thinks and talks like such a tool? Then there were some multi format games of which Battlefield 4 was the only one I was interested in. Then the new Halo trailer which I’m sure caused delight amongst many but good old Master Chef (not a typo) really wasn’t doing it for me.
The last thing they showed off was Titanfall. This to me was something I was really looking forward too. Granted it was yet another first person shooter but with the addition of mechs. Sounds like a good comboto be sure but yet again I just lost interest half way through.
Although the game had mechs in it, I just thought this game could have done with its own individual look about it. Instead we were treated to something that has plagued the last generation of consoles: the colours brown and grey. It’s an interesting concept, but come on guys! Add some individuality to your game and don’t make it look like all the other generic shooters out there.
The price of $499/£429 was revealed to a stunned audience
It was at this point that I thought even though some of the games weren’t for me, Microsoft had done a pretty decent job at getting some people off their back and showing them what they wanted. But this being Microsoft and the Xbox One knowing how to trip itself up has become a natural thing.
The price of $499/£429 was revealed to a stunned audience, some of who heckled and really any advantage they had gained any gamers that they had managed to claw back into the realm of being interested in their machine were gone.
Fallout from Microsoft conference was mixed to say the least and I for one was glad they showed games but was stunned about the price tag they have put on their machine. I really couldn’t believe that after showing people what they want they would then slap such a price tag on it.
In for the Kill
A couple of conferences later and Sony were up and they started slowly. Vita and PS3 were given their moments and then we were treated to the thing that everyone had wanted to see since February: the PS4 console.
Personally, I’m a fan of how it looks; unlike the Xbox One, this machine seems to have more about it. Then came the games.
Ready at Dawn showed off their new title The Order 1886. It had my interest but gameplay would have been nice. Then came games we have already seen but it was nice to see new parts off. Killzone Shadow Fall could be considered another one of your generic shooters which is fine but unlike most at least the guys Guerrilla Games are trying to make it feel like no Killzone game you have played before. Colour is evident as is light these two things alone make this Killzone stand out from the rest. Infamous Second Son was shown and looks incredible and looks to build on the success of the other two games on the PS3. Drive Club and Knack were also shown again with the latter getting me really excited as I’m a sucker for a good platformer and I really hope this delivers.
From these exclusives came the announcement of various third party games Assassins Creed 4, Watch Dogs, Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts 3.They also gave a decent amount of time to show of how they are working with the Indie developers and from what they have shown already i really can’t wait to see what the indies can create on the PS4. The games reel ended with a showing of elder scrolls online and Mad Max.
So far at this point I would have put both conferences at about neck and neck. Microsoft did what they need to do but then stumbled at the last fence and Sony had done what it needed to do but there was one more thing that was left, the elephant in the room, used games.
Jack Tretton came back to the stage and looking back it really does look like he was tyring to hold in the laughter as he knew what he was about to announce.
It was just one calculated blow after another
This was the moment for me that Sony won E3 and the moment a lot of people had decided which console they would be buying. Microsoft had already set their stall out about used games and about DRM but with most expecting Sony to follow suit in some sort of way they really did just rip up the script. Used games were all for them, the system works offline, no need to check in every 24 hours. Everything Microsoft has been working for and have bullet pointed for their machine Sony have gone and done the opposite.
This sent the room into a frenzy, I can’t honestly remember an E3 where the crowd have got that crazy. It was just one calculated blow after another and Sony were not stopping, so much so that they then brought out Bungie to showcase their new game Destiny. This was just the icing on the cake but the cherry was still to come.
The room was still buzzing and then that final bombshell hit, the price. At $399/£350 the PS4 is coming in a whole $100 cheaper than the Xbox One. This again sent the room crazy and I really started to wonder what Microsoft can do to come back from this.
It’s not over just yet
But this console war is by no means over. Most people are already signalling that this is the end of the Xbox. It still has time to fix things but the question is will it. The aftermath of these conferences has been most interesting to see with some web sites claiming that Sony have already gone back on their DRM policies and claiming that they have out right lied to people. In an Interview with Jack Tretton the man who cut Microsoft down he’d mentioned that the DRM would be up to the third parties leading many assume they were closer to what the Xbox One policies were. In actual fact these DRM measures are no different to what they currently are on PS3 and will be dealt with through online passes or other means.
It also seems as though every time Microsoft get interviewed at the moment they can’t seem to say something positive. Take an interview with Don Mattrick in where he’s states that if you don’t have an internet connection then we still have a great offline console in the 360. This would be all well and good but when that customer has just seen that Sony’s next gen console will be offline capable why would they really want to buy what will be in a few months a last gen model when they can get a shiny next gen model in the PS4.
It’s also interesting to see what a difference a day makes. Before E3 in the UK the Xbox One had a 2.3% pre order lead over the PS4 and was sitting pretty at number 1 on Amazons pre order chart. Since E3 though all has changed and it’s now the PS4 that sits at the top with Xbox One slipping to third.
A Comparison of Value
Another thing to note about the Sony’s conference was the fact that in order to play online you will now need a plus membership. This for some has been seen as the blip on Sony’s entire conference but when you look at the bigger picture is it really a big deal. In the past I have had a bitch and a moan about Xbox Live for the sole reason that apart from giving me online access what else does it offer me? Various apps that really shouldn’t be behind this kind of a pay wall and can access for free on my PS3 access to TV and Movies I mean this is not value. Playstation plus on the other hand for the PS4 will offer people so much more. The instant game collection which has been one of the best things to come out of the current generation will return and will offer Drive Club as it’s free game. You will also get free games every month. Now I know some people will say “but you don’t own those games your just renting them” which is true you are but even though I’m renting these games I feel as though I’m getting value.
Playstation Plus on the other hand for the PS4 will offer so much more
Put simply if Drive Club retails at £45 (Prices quoted are only for example purposes) and Playstation Plus cost £40 for the year I have already saved money and am able to play online. Couple that with cloud saves and all the other smaller features I know where my money is going. Whereas if I were to pay £40 for Xbox Live on the Xbox One do I get a free game my guess would be no but all can change.
Microsoft may have spent a lot of money getting exclusive titles for its machine but in doing so it seems to have alienated its consumer group by putting in all these restrictions. Sony on the other hand has played it clever and given gamers what they want. They have listened to gamers and they have answered. Sure Sony didn’t bring out the big guns such as Naughty Dog but in the end they didn’t need too. They showed enough through other first party means and Indie games to show you that they mean business. Sure Microsoft showed games and I’m glad they did but I still get this feeling as though the Xbox One is a cable box first and games console second.
So won’t say that Sony has won before we have even started the next generation. No that would be stupid. What I will say though is that at this moment in time Sony is sounding like they are building up a sizable lead over their rivals and it really will take something special from Microsoft to halt them. Everything Sony has done so far has been perfect and for Microsoft it really has been one PR disaster after another and if Microsoft want’s to stand a chance against Sony next generation something has to change, and quick.
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