Insert cliched sentence about “dust settling” here. Still, now that we’ve all had time to calm down from the madness of E3, let’s discuss how things went for the Big Three. My Twitter feed was drowning in snark, most of it pretty funny, along with some occasional rage/betrayal. It was my first E3 on Twitter, and I can only hope that future expos are just as entertaining. So, just some quick thoughts to start your week off right:
Microsoft: The odds were definitely stacked against them after their dismal Xbox One reveal, but they promised that E3 would be all about the games, and I feel they delivered on that. They showed off a few nice exclusives, kept the TV/sports crap to a minimum, and generally had a much more solid conference than most people give them credit for. However, they made a huge gaffe on the price, one that I doubt they’ll be able to recover from. $500 was expensive even before Sony announced their price, but now it just seems ludicrous. I liked their conference (aside from the price announcement), and if they hadn’t already committed a multitude of marketing sins on the hardware side I think they’d have a real shot, but alas. What kills me is that the very publishers that Microsoft tried to appease with the always online/used games dealio (like EA and Ubisoft) are already hanging Microsoft out to dry after witnessing the backlash. It’s kind of a shame, because I own a 360 and not a PS3, and I wanted to continue that legacy, if I could.
Sony: These guys went right for Microsoft’s throat, which is exactly what they should’ve done. All they did was announce that nothing had changed DRM-wise from the previous generation and they instantly won over the crowd; Microsoft just handed them that particular victory. Still, I have to give credit where it’s due: they could’ve just priced their console at $500 and forced gamers to choose between two super-expensive mini-computers (and given Microsoft’s PR issues, customers probably would’ve chosen Sony anyway, even with a price tie), but they went straight for the jugular and made it absolutely no contest. Both machines have comparable horsepower (PS4 has a little faster RAM), both have robust, paid-subscription online services, both have decent exclusives. But one console doesn’t require an online validation every 24 hours, allows used games, and is $100 cheaper. I know that there are still diehard Xbox One fans out there, and I’m glad that they’ve found plenty to like about the console, but if I had to choose, I’d have to get a PS4. Plus, Jack Tretton’s slow evolution from a nervous, sweaty suit to an absolute shark is a joy to watch. I’ll take deliberate ruthlessness over complacency in my hardware execs any day. Hey, speaking of complacency…
Nintendo: After Sony’s conference, it was all on Nintendo. Xbox One looked like it was primed to fail while PS4 looked just the opposite, but those were both hypotheticals: Nintendo had already been dealing with the reality of a failing console for half a year now. With the PS4 priced at only $50 more than the only Wii U SKU worth getting, Nintendo needed to announce a price cut either in their Direct video or sometime during the show proper. No price cut ever came, which was…not good. Then their Direct was crammed full of sequels that were identical to their prequels, ports, and remakes, none of which were arriving before 2014. If Nintendo was going to have any chance at all against the Xbone or PS4 this fall, it was going to need a killer app, and the Nintendo Direct was Nintendo revealing their hand and showing they had been bluffing the whole time. If you’re going to launch a year before the competition, you better make damn good use of that year and build up your consumer base by selling systems. It’ll be over a year since launch before the Wii U has a killer app, and a lazy HD remake of a game that still looks stellar (Wind Waker) isn’t going to help buffet the storm coming in November. If anything, I’m a Nintendo fanboy, so it pains me to admit that they’re probably completely boned.
I guess none of this really matters because there’s no way I’m buying any of these damn things before 2014. My current gen consoles and my PC have been serving me quite well, and as much as I’d like to be an early adopter, buying the 3DS on day 1 left a bad enough taste in my mouth that I doubt I’ll ever do it again. But man, was it nice to get caught up in the hype along with everyone else on Twitter. Super fun. Same time next year, gents?