Let me get this out of the way with early – Even thought Microsoft had a strong showing, It is my opinion that Sony “won” E3 2014 with a well rounded and diverse presentation. It had a mix of impressive exclusives as well as some of the most shocking and jaw dropping moments of E3 2014 Day Zero – but it was evident throughout the presentation that Sony were not the same confident group of E3 2013 and all the evidence points towards the new lower priced Kinect-less Xbox One that may be causing them some furrowed brows.
A running theme throughout the Sony E3 presentation was “Value”. The buzz phrases “adding value” and “best value” were thrown out regularly (in fact, I counted again this morning in my sleep deprived state and the word “Value” is said 7 times during the presentation) as Andrew House and co. attempted to convince us that the PS4 is still the console with the most bang for your buck. The fact that this theme came up at all during Sony’s presentation is alarming but understandable based on recent developments from their Redmond rivals. Microsoft recently cut the Xbox One’s requirement for the Kinect sensor and as the console shed its dead weight, it also got a price cut, pulling both the Xbox One and PS4 vanilla SKU’s onto the same price point of £349.99. Hardware wasn’t the only thing getting an overhaul though as Games for Gold, a deffinately-not-copying-Playstation-Plus game subscription and reward scheme, came to the Xbox One. On paper, to the general consumer, the PS4 and Xbox One are now virtually the same out of the box.
The price parity with their nearest competitors has Sony worried and this was evident throughout their E3 2014 presentation. The constant re-iteration that the PS4 was the “best value” console, a focus on free-to-play games (reassuring potential customers that X number of games would be playable straight out of the box), the announcement that Sony’s TV content would be included within the PS+ subscription cost (in a bid to differentiate themselves from Microsoft’s Games for Gold scheme) and the occasional cheap shot throw at Microsoft all painted a concerning picture.
The most interesting point of this is that Sony needn’t have worried. Even though Sony may not have been overly confident in what they were presenting, feeling the need to point out that the PS4 is better “value” in lieu of megaton game announcements, the industry folk and journalists inside the packed out hall as well as millions of gamers world wide are now going gaga over what they announced. Little Big Planet 3 came completely out of the blue. Grim Fandango is a cult classic and the remake was probably the biggest surprise of E3 so far. Naughty Dog and Ready At Dawn blew the socks off of everyone with the visual fidelity of Uncharted 4 and The Order. The No Mans Sky trailer nearly caused the internet to implode. If anything, Sony would have been better placed to replace their “value” speeches with game play footage of Driveclub and a few more upcoming Vita games like Danganronpa 2 and Velocity 2X.
This new cautious, almost nervous, Sony is probably systemic of the companies overall financial state and even though the computer entertainment divisions are performing admirably, their will be increased pressure to turn a greater profit. Sony should learn the lessons of E3 2013 and do what they do best – games. Provide the best console gaming experiences available and value for money becomes less of priority.