You can’t win E3.
You can lose it, of course. It was Xbox that ‘lost’ E3 in 2013 after it mismanaged the reveal of Xbox One. Meanwhile, Ubisoft had a few PR fires to put out last year, which saw it suffer a somewhat disappointing expo.
So it’s with some sitting-on-the-fence delight I can declare that no one lost E3 this year.
Sony’s conference was a cacophony of roaring fans delighting at each reveal, while it was hard to disagree with Microsoft’s assertion that its release slate is ‘the greatest line-up in Xbox history’.
It was the latter that has the most immediate potential. Over the next six months Xbox will launch a new game in every single one of its biggest first-party franchises: Gears of War, Fable, Forza and Halo. And that’s not even mentioning an exclusive Tomb Raider game.
Compare that to Sony’s first-party slate – which consists primarily of remakes or updates – and there’s just no competition.
Couple this with the recent news of Xbox 360 backwards compatibility, plus the fact that Xbox will have the run of Gamescom in Sony’s absence, and Microsoft has an opportunity here to chip away at Sony’s lead.
But it’s just an opportunity. It’s no sure thing. The team at PlayStation has done a great job of making third-party releases feel like their home is on PS4. Just look at the success it has had with its partnership with Destiny, or even some games it didn’t have partnerships with – such as The Witcher 3. These games didn’t just sell better on PS4, they had a huge impact on the hardware numbers, too.
So Sony’s partnerships with Star Wars: Battlefront, Disney Infinity 3, Hitman, Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate and – most significantly – Call of Duty: Black Ops III, should not be underestimated. PlayStation has done a fine job of making PS4 No.1 around the world with a relatively lean line-up, so if Xbox wants to capitalise on its 2015 opportunity, it might have to spend time talking up the third-party slate as much as it does its exclusives.
Because once 2015 has ended, Microsoft’s window of opportunity closes. Next year PlayStation has Uncharted 4, The Last Guardian, Horizon, Project Morpheus and a whole lot more on its release schedule.
It may be 18 months old, but really this new generation console battle is just getting started.