Usually, verdicts of “winners” and “losers” coming out of E3 press conferences are little more than armchair pondering. One person’s view of some competing events that don’t really matter. But today, boy, it’s hard seeing Sony’s press conference as anything but a punch in the face to Microsoft’s Xbox One ambitions.
The second half of Sony’s conference was targeted at systematically taking apart Microsoft’s entire platform policy with the Xbox One, presenting the PlayStation 4 as a console able to undercut almost everything Microsoft was offering. Or, in many cases, forcing consumers to endure.
The Xbox One costs $US499? Oh, OK, the PlayStation 4 costs $US399. The Xbox One imposes online checks? The PS4 doesn’t. The Xbox One has restrictions on the use of your disc-based games? The PS4 does no such thing.
It’s a series of calculated business decisions – and they are calculated, right down to the fact Microsoft’s policies were directly referenced by Sony – that have resulted in one of the most lop-sided public reactions to an E3 press conference in recent memory. No wonder Jack Tretton spent the last 20 minutes giggling like a schoolgirl.
Seriously, people are going crazy. Twitter and forums are overflowing with people declaring everything from “BEST E3 EVER” to “RIP XBOX ONE”. I’ve been doing this job for a long time now, and I’ve never seen a reaction like it.
By listening to how upset people had become over Microsoft’s restrictions and demands, and catering their console to appeal to them, Sony has instantly won itself legions of Xbox converts and new fans.
Is it enough to matter? Who knows. The next 5-10 years will see many ups and downs for both Microsoft and Sony in the console race. Sony’s exclusives might under-perform. Microsoft’s new Kinect could be seen as a wonder-device, much like Nintendo’s Wii Remote, unlocking massmarket sales. To determine a “winner” in this contest before a console has even been sold would be crazy.
But what’s important to day is that, unlike the last time they unveiled a new console’s price at E3, Sony are off to a very strong start.