We’re still in the middle of E3 week but after Monday’s showcase of the immortals (with a half-hearted cameo by Ubisoft) and yesterday’s Nintendo Direct, it seems the current console scene for the next few months has been decided. With that in mind: Who won this year’s E3 2013?
If you haven’t checked our reviews of the respective conferences, then we’ll make this short: Sony. Despite a somewhat slow start, which actually turned out to be very intriguing in terms of the line-up for PlayStation Vita (which includes the old-school Luftrausers), and some fumbling in the middle in regards to TV and whatnot, Sony’s PlayStation 4 soared to the top of wish lists when all was said and done.
Of course, it’s easy to look at the end – which saw SCEA president Jack Tretton turn face after an extended heel run in the PS3 era and announce that PlayStation 4 would have no DRM, periodic online “check-ins” or restrict used games sales – and that it was the most positive part of the console. It would be easy to say that the price, which stands at $399 for the United States, was what sealed the deal.
But on looking back, Sony managed to showcase tons of games, both new announcements and trailers for already existing titles that appealed to every kind of gamer. Final Fantasy Versus XIII returned and is now Final Fantasy XV – that would’ve been enough but we got some stellar story and gameplay footage to go with it. Kingdom Hearts 3 was finally announced as well, and while both titles will be heading to the Xbox One, it’s a different matter altogether when they debut at Sony’s E3 press conference.
It means that developers like Square Enix realize how important it is for Sony fans to know about these games, given how Final Fantasy Versus XIII was heavily anticipated as a PS3 exclusive and the Kingdom Hearts series shot to fame on the PlayStation 2.
Other announcements included a new IP by SCE Santa Monica and Ready At Dawn with The Order: 1866, a heaping helping of indie titles including the console debut of Supergiant Games’ Transistor, gameplay footage for Destiny (for which Sony has an exclusive agreement with Bungie for, though we don’t know the conditions of this yet), The Elder Scrolls Online, Avalanche Studios’ Mad Max and more.
Even the PS3 got its fair share of announcements with new footage for Gran Turismo 6 and Puppeteer, along with a PS3 bundle for Grand Theft Auto V at $299. Again, this isn’t counting other titles like inFamous Second Son, DriveClub, Killzone: Shadow Fall and Knack which received far more gameplay footage. Even the PlayStation 4 itself was finally revealed.
In comparison, Microsoft’s line-up actually had a mix of announcements and gameplay reveals. The next Halo, D4 and Black Tusk were all teased rather than properly showcased. Forza Motorsport 5, Quantum Break and Metal Gear Solid V were all showcased, which was good (the last one actually started the show. Whoever made this decision should be given a medal). Crimson Dragon was one of the few unexpected announcements along with Dead Rising 3, and both games enticed us plenty.
This isn’t accounting the gameplay reveal for Ryse and Sunset Drive, along with the announcement of friggin’ Killer Instinct. Even Battlefield 4 had a chance to shin with the Second Assault DLC arriving on the Xbox One first. And we’d be lying if we didn’t say Project Spark looked interesting – if not altogether original.
Plus TitanFall. Hell yes.
However, indie titles were woefully under-represented. The only one that really registered a mark was Below. Other than that, well, search us.
Microsoft didn’t do much to dispel illusions about its focus on TV and sports along with the semi-surveillance features of the Xbox One’s always on Kinect. The publisher actually left the decision regarding used game sale fees to publishers – they since haven’t found out what they really want to do about it. Heck, even Sony left the decision to them, but only one of the consoles has a system in place for regulating used game sales at all.
That being said, the utter death knell of the Xbox One was the pricing. One could argue that Sony announced its PS3 for $599 at one time and was whipped mercilessly for it. And sadly, such is the case with Microsoft’s Xbox One, which was announced to retail for $499. Considering all the problems with it, which Don Mattrick brushed aside by simply saying “Get an Xbox 360 if you don’t have internet access”, that’s not good at all.
And what is the Xbox 360 getting? World of Tanks? Plus a new design and some free game downloads? At least Respawn Entertainment realized the Xbox One would be met with criticism and is developing TitanFall for Xbox 360 and PC as well.
Nintendo was Nintendo. They neither stole the show nor flunked it with their pre-recorded Nintendo Direct message. We got gameplay trailers for Bayonetta 2, Mario Kart 8, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, the new Super Smash Bros., The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD, Super Mario 3D World and much more, plus a ton of Nintendo 3DS trailers and gameplay reveals. It wasn’t full of “holy sh*t” announcements but it had games. Too bad a lot of them were coming in 2014.
Ubisoft showcased Tom Clancy’s The Division and The Crew. It also showed up. EA won us over with Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare and immediately angered us by both rebooting Mirror’s Edge and announcing the release date as the equivalent of “whatever, lulz”. Other than that, a good, earnest showing by the publisher with Battlefield 4’s multiplayer, Dragon Age III: Inquisition (Morrigan!), Star Wars Battlefront, Need for Speed Rivals and the new UFC.
It’d be clichéd to say that “consumers won E3 2013”, that’s more or less what Sony’s conference proved: That you can entrust your business and product to your consumers, and see returns. As opposed to Microsoft’s “why bother if you don’t have Internet?” approach. Also note that the Xbox One won’t be coming to Asia till late next year – not that the Xbox 360 was doing all well good to begin with in Japan. But what about markets like India? Let’s see if Microsoft has an answer for that.
But this was Sony’s night. Microsoft started off swinging and got in a few good hits, but Sony managed to battle back and land the final blow to win E3 2013.