Sony wins E3 (so far), simply by showing up.
This E3, Sony had a low bar to clear. Microsoft’s press conference was disappointing, EA’s was a trainwreck, Bethesda’s was very underwhelming, and Ubisoft was the only one who managed to have a good showing, mostly because of the high caliber of games that it brought with it to the show. So, Sony doing best out of all the conferences so far was never going to be difficult- they just had to keep doing what they have been doing, and they’d end up the winner by default. That’s basically what ended up happening.
Sony’s conference itself had some problems – notably, there was no one ‘oh, shit’ megaton announcement moment of the kind that they are known for – but on the whole, it was a fast paced, frenetic hour, with game after game after game, with minimal talk and fluff, and a very varied slate of games. There may be some who felt that the emphasis on the PlayStation VR in the middle segment of the conference was too much – however, I feel that Sony personally walked the fine line between focusing on it, but not too much, just fine.
It also helps that Sony had some incredible games to show. They started the show with Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, which looks great, before moving on to show us Horizon: Zero Dawn- The Frozen World, a brand new expansion coming up for the hit Guerrilla RPG from earlier this year, and Days Gone, which looked far more convincing this year than it did last year. Sony then announced Monster Hunter World, a new open world Monster Hunter game that is coming to the PS4 in early 2018 (it is also coming to Xbox Oe and PC), also showing off Detroit: Become Human, God of War, Shadow of the Colossus, a whole spate of some pretty cool looking PlayStation VR games (including Skyrim!), some focus on multiplats including Destiny 2, Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite, and Call of Duty: World War 2, and for the show ending segment, a truly jaw dropping gameplay segment of the upcoming Spider-Man.
"Sony had some incredible games to show."
The selection of games shown off was great, the pace was brisk, there was minimal talking, the conference was short and snappy, and Sony even only focused on games that are releasing in 2017 or 2018- which basically addresses my biggest complaint with their conferences in the past few years of them announcing games too far out in advance.
That said, there were a few problems- as I said, there is an argument to be made that they focused far too much on the PlayStation VR (I personally do not feel so, but this is the sentiment I have seen percolating online). Meanwhile, there were some baffling omissions, too- while Death Stranding and The Last of Us missing makes sense, given that Sony only emphasized games coming this year or the next, and those two are likely farther out, I am talking about games like Ni no Kuni 2 or Gran Turismo Sport, both of which are due out later this year, and are high profile PS4 exclusives that were completely ignored.
Then, of course, there is the expectation Sony has created that it failed to live up to- the expectation of always having a big, show stopping reveal or announcement, which they did not this time around. There was also the fact that they tried to basically redo a lot of last year’s conference, right down to the live orchestra for the opening (though the Indian musical piece really was very good).
"There is an argument to be made that they focused far too much on the PlayStation VR (I personally do not feel so, but this is the sentiment I have seen percolating online)."
But the problems really pace next to the high octane, high pace, rapid fire announcements and showcases that Sony had, one after the other, and just the fact that the lineup of exciting games for the PS4 continues to swell. Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, God of War, Gran Turismo Sport, Detroit: Become Human, Spider-Man, Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom, and Shadow of the Colossus all look great. Sony managed to even make the PlayStation VR look exciting and interesting, when I honestly thought they would drop it entirely after lower than expected sales.
Ultimately, was this the best conference Sony has ever had? Not really, they have done better, and they will continue to do better. But it was a great mid generation state of the union for Sony, a chance for them to slow down and consolidate their position, instead of being aggressive. They are in the lead, and they can afford to ease off on the pedal for a bit now. Their position is so secure that they still managed to have the best conference so far nonetheless.
Now to see if Nintendo manages to outdo this tomorrow. I have my doubts, personally, but at the very least, I will be keeping an open mind going in.