Who Won E3? Nobody -- At Least Not Yet

The big conference reveals are over, we know a little more about availability and a lot more about pricing, and there's a buzz about who "won" E3. You know who "won" E3? Nobody won E3… yet.

If you judged these things on audience reaction, then yeah, I guess you might have to award it to Sony for generating applause, fundamentally for taking it directly to Microsoft with regards to used game policy (at least for their first party games). I did rather like how it was summed up by Pro Wrestler Samoa Joe on Twitter:

"Finally caught the E3 conferences. I saw a really great Xbox conference, Then I watched Sony smash Microsoft in the head with a tack hammer." I'm not one to argue with a man who stages fights for a living — mostly because I'm certain he could beat me to a bloody pulp without breaking a sweat in real life — but I think he's wrong.

Not that Sony's conference didn't bring a certain amount of crowd pleasing. Not that Microsoft doesn't deserve at least scrutiny and probably criticism for some of its planned policies. Not even that Nintendo either "won" or "lost" by simply holding a Nintendo Direct to showcase games that we've largely known about beforehand.

No, the reason that I think he's wrong is that E3 is all about hype in the short term, but there's a longer game being played here. Hype is fine in the short term; it buys you column inches online, applause from an audience and a bit of social media buzz.

Then, next week, a celebrity somewhere falls out of her top, or a character is killed in a popular drama, or there's a new shiny plastic smartphone or… whatever. The buzz moves on. Hype can be fun, but it only lasts so long.

The long game in this case is actually getting consoles into the hands of consumers and playing the finished games.

So before you think about who "won" E3, consider this.

You haven't played any of the games announced at E3 yet.

I haven't played any of the games announced at E3 yet.

Heck, Mark's wandering the E3 floor (quite possibly in a sleep deprived haze, but hey, he's a new dad; this stuff is par for the course) and even he hasn't played any of the finished code of the new games yet; just the promotional early code for most of them.

It could well be that the PS4 has some kind of optimisation bug that causes it to catch fire every time you insert a used game. The Xbox One might emit deadly rays that cause the left eye of every third person who plays to spontaneously fall out. The Wii U GamePad might be found to contain chemicals that slowly transform you into Timmy, the dog from The Famous Five. At this stage, anything is possible.*

More seriously, there could be killer Xbox One bundles. There could be games that play much, much better on the PS4, or experiences that only the Wii U can actually handle from a gameplay point of view once the finished code is actually in our hands. We don't know, and won't know who "won" E3 2013 until the sales figures start to flow in for actual games and actual consoles. Until then, it's all just hype, and while hype can be a fun game to play for a short while, it's not the same thing as an actual game to play. That's what I'm excited about from this year's E3 — but we've got a bit of a wait for most of those to be a practical reality.

*A note for Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo's legal teams: I'm hypothesising here. You can put the lawyers away. Put them down…. down… that's better. Now, give them a pro-Bonio and a tummy rub.


    Finally, someone who knows what's up. When will people learn this is all promotion and speculation. Until we actually know all the facts, no one "wins" anything.

    Wow, what is it with Kotaku and the sudden influx of buzz-kill articles?

    I think when the average person declares something along the lines of "Company X -won- E3" - they're referring to whomever came out on top in the event itself, rather than necessarily stating said company has completely won the generation of consoles over. Of course there's potential for anything to happen, but in terms of E3 and presentation as well as the resulting hype? Sony does kind of have a lead this generation.

    Last edited 12/06/13 1:58 pm

      "I think when the average person declares something along the lines of "Company X -won- E3" - they're referring to whomever came out on top in the event itself"

      Thank you! What a pointless article. I assumed this was everyone's thinking. Clearly the author is below average.

      I would've gone with 'overwhelmingly' rather than 'kind of', but yeah this. The question is who won e3, not who won the console war this gen.

      Sounds like bitterness that the entire Internet has drawn a conclusion and Kotaku were late to the party (or they would prefer to remain neutral to avoid impacting any ongoing advertising contracts with MS). E3 was clearly dominated by Sony's announcements....ignorance of that fact only serves to reduce the credibility of the reporting staff imho.

    But Sony did win E3, as the goal of E3 is to generate the most hype and buzz for your console and any upcoming games. What you're talking about is console launches and the long term of the console. Sony won the first part of the Console War, but there's lots of battlegrounds left.

    They totally won E3.

    Sony won E3. What YOU'RE referring to is the next iteration of console wars. E3 isn't about sales, it's about generating hype for upcoming Hardware/Software and showing off what you've got. E3 has ALWAYS been about generating hype. Yes, you can win E3, but E3 is just a battleground and not a war. Sony clearly won this battle but whether or not they'll win the next generation of console war remains to be seen. Everything you've stated in this article is something we all know. Stop trying to make this "deeper" or more "profound" because in reality you come off as pretentious, elitist and an idiotic douche.

      No, please, tell me what you *really* think. Don't hold back.

      You're a wanker. Just because Alex isn't follow the latest trend of humping Sony's leg, doesn't mean he is trying to come from a 'deeper' or more 'profound' place as others. You have no idea what Sony has done for itself in terms of placing itself on the back burner for developers and publishers for it's stance of trading in games to retail. Microsoft has achieved top spot from this stand point. Did you even stop to consider this? Like, at all?

        Lol what? Do you have some insider knowledge that none of us are party to explaining that all developers hate Sony now?

        Your argument doesn't even make sense in return to what you're replying to. I don't think Prof.Ake is right about Kidman attempting to look deeper or more profound - and I definitely didn't think the article was pretentious. However, Kidman asked 'who won E3'. He then defined E3 as 'hype in the short term'. Then gave an argument why nobody has yet 'won' a long term battle - which by his own definition E3 is not. That's a flawed argument.

          How does this not make sense? He claims Sony has won E3 because it got a louder cheer from a crowd. I recall Hitler getting quite a cheer at one point. Didn't see him win the war.

            You are seriously bringing the whole "hitler did x" thing into this argument? Now, no matter how much I may or may not agree with you, your argument just doesn't work because you're THAT GUY

            Last edited 12/06/13 4:15 pm

              I'm the guy who works in a gaming retail shop and still thinks that the consumer right of trading and buying traded in games is not helping the industry. I'm still going to buy a PS4 and more than likely double up with the Xbox One but saying a company has won because it pleased one group of people and more than likely upset the other (being the people who make and distribute the product) seems like a fools victory to me. Sorry for being the guy who actually reads beyond the face value of shit.

                You simply don't get what I was saying. That's fine.

            Well that's where you seem to have missed the point entirely - for starters I hope the "crowd" you're referring to is actually the majority of people who viewed E3, online or otherwise. But where I think you really missed it is in that E3 is not the "war". E3 is the pre-hyping, whereas the author should been referring to the entire console generation. Nobody can logically claim that Sony has won outright, from here to the end of this new generation - but we can quite rightly say that based on everything from the presentation itself to the critical reception and general response, Sony nailed E3.

              That being said, I don't agree with the sudden personal assault on the author over the small matter of presenting a flawed argument.

            Dude, don't you know if you Godwin an argument there's no coming back?

        Maybe if MS did some consumer leg humping they'd get some action in return. I'm sure MS is getting a lot of leg love from the publishers but this isn't a site for publishers it's a site for gamers, as a gamer sonys leg looks pretty sweet right about now.

        the only reason MS has had to do this kind of full on online checkin, DRM BS is because the 360 was a joke of a system when it came to piracy. from almost day 1 it was cracked and hacked. from memory the PS3 was piracy free for most of it's life. if PS4 can do the same thing whats the fear for developers?

        Last edited 12/06/13 3:00 pm

      Isn't about sales? Is about hype? Its about marketing and why would big companies show their stuff? To market it so you say omg look at this here take my moneh! Its always about the sales when you dig deep.

    Surely who "wins E3" has nothing to do with how the console sells or if the games are good. E3 is an Expo. It's not the console generation.

    What matters is the feeling people walk away with. What happened at this expo. You cant say that just because a sports team doesn't win the league, they didn't win any matches. That's just silly.

    Then again, implying that you can win an expo is silly.

    So while I agree with your hypotheticals, they have nothing at all to do with this event. Maybe Xbone is great, maybe PS4 is awful. Maybe the Wii U will gather momentum and win overall.

    Sony still "won" E3.

    Timmy, the dog from The Famous Five? That's reference is so far over most peoples heads it's in orbit!

      I had a dog named 'scamper' how's that for an Enid Blyton reference. Lashings of ginger beer and cucumber sandwiches for Alex I say!

    For me, saying Sony "won" e3 is me saying Sony has won my support and custom this console generation. And that did this without doing anything. It all comes down to Microsoft being downright hostile to the consumer. I have the ability to hold a grudge. EA doesn't earn a cent from me. Nor will Microsoft. Hence, Sony "won".

    It's a valid opinion, but I think it neglects the fact that it's not just a matter of games this time round. The services and experience offered by each platform are also a heavy influencing factor as to the long term victory conditions. Unless things change radically over the next few months, the XBox One may have great games and be the better of the two in terms of performance, but the policies in place about how you use and play the games may counteract that enough that it becomes moot.

    Console war ... console war never changes. This ain't my first console war. I've been watching the console wars before the internet, before there was even a Playstation or Xbox. And theres one thing for certain, and that's nothing is certain.

    Remember the last generation of console being revealed. The wii was pronounced dead before it had been released. People wrote songs about how Sony had wrecked their brand, and nobody saw the Red Ring of Death coming. There's SO many things that can change. An happen. E3 is merely a pissing contest, it's like the part where the two boxers talk trash at a press conference before the bout even takes place.

    The real battle is fought at retail. There's an incalculable amount of variable that can swing that battle. Even retail is changing. What happens if digital distribution eclipses retail and the price war is fought with the un-tradable, un-lendable DRM soaked digital games that have rules PC gaming for years now? What if one company has a catastrophic hardware problem? What if Microsoft sells $200 consoles subsidised by a gold subscription? What is MS gets DDOSED and compromises everybody's credit card info? What happens if Sony goes broke?

    The war is about to begin and who knows who wil win. At this stage Sony has the good faith of the core gamers.

    Last edited 12/06/13 2:39 pm

    Timmy. You're such a licky dog :-)

      "You shouldn't let Timmy do that George. It's unhygienic."

    Hasn't E3 always been about showcasing upcoming games and tech? Isn't it about companies building excitement, about vying for the hearts and minds of gamers? I can't remember any announcements at E3 in recent years where they said "by the way, this is available right now!"

    In terms of the console battle, it wasn't just that Sony beat Microsoft this round. It was that they did it in such a way as to paint themselves as the 'good guys' while simultaneously painting Microsoft as the 'bad guys'. Even if Microsoft do a complete about face on their mandatory online check-ins and used games DRM, the perception will be that they only changed their policy because they had to and not because they wanted to.

    Don't get me wrong - I still think the X-box will sell and will be profitable, but you can bet that internal sales projections at Microsoft would definitely have been revised down after this. Microsoft has lost a lot of gamer goodwill, and It's hard to see them coming back from this in the short term.

    Last edited 12/06/13 3:01 pm

    I think you're just taking this too seriously. E3, for the majority of people, is watching the conferences, and the news that comes along with it. So I think its reasonable for people to decide who 'won' E3 this year, because for most of us, E3 is more or less over. If people are saying Sony has won the console war, then you could tell that fool to calm down, but for now, why shouldn't people make their judgements based on what they have been presented with?

    Yeah, nah. Your article explains why Sony hasn't won this round of the console wars just because it got the best hype out of E3, but it did get the best hype out of E3 and so "won" E3. How much winning E3 matters remains to be seen.

    FWIW, gamers being tribal as they are, persuading people to identify themselves as PS4 buyers before the product is on the shelf, proselytising amongst the heathens for free, is a tangible win that should translate into sales.

    Sony would've won E3, but they got red-carded for what they did to Microsoft, and are thus ineligible.

    I think Alex Kidman is confused between "Winning E3" and "Winning the first year of console sales" or something like that. Saying that we haven't played any of the games so we can't judge who 'won' E3 doesn't make sense. Perhaps the first few months of global retail will be tell a different picture to who 'won' E3 - but that's a different competition. I think we can say who 'won' E3 (and then also discuss if 'winning' E3 is very meaningful in the long run or not).

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