Looking back at the events of the previous day, I believe two things happened. First, Microsoft went in with the plan of throwing caution to the wind and hoping for the best. Second, Sony had two conferences ready to roll out. And here is why.
After letting details out before E3 about what the XBox One would do to handle used games and DRM, Microsoft went out hoping their exclusives for the system like Dead Rising 3, Halo 5 and Killer Instinct would be enough to turn the tide on their perception and then announced the $499 price point. And then Sony went…
At first, Sony got out of the gates with just an okay start. There was a focus on the Vita and the announcement of the second episode of The Walking Dead from Telltale entitled 400 Days. While cool, everyone knew this would be releasing to multiple platforms. Then, Sony talked about the media on the system, lulling everyone into a false sense of security and focusing on their Crackle app. Yes, Crackle. But from there, things took an upward swing and the focus on games was revealed. While some of the titles were exclusive and others were multiplatform, they looked great even though there were some hiccups (which Microsoft experienced as well). And then things got interesting.
Sony announced that the PlayStation 4 would have backwards compatibility. I still maintain this is something I have not in the past or think I will ever care about in the future, the crowd ate it up. The PlayStation 4 also would not take combative measures against used game sales with aggressive DRM. No required internet connections were necessary and there wouldn’t be preventative measures. As you’ll see in the “promotional” video below, to share games on your PlayStation 4 you can literally just share the game. And the entire time, Jack Tretton could barely hold back the laughter as he took shoot after shot at the poor decisions of Microsoft.
But the real game changer came when Sony revealed that the PlayStation 4 would release for a full hundred dollars less than the XBox One. Sony erred on the side of caution and it looks like things will pay off big for them. After the PlayStation 3 got off to an incredibly rocky start because of its high entry price, Sony turned the tides and brought the PlayStation 4 in at 80% of the XBox One. With the $399 announcement, Tretton could have literally dropped a mic and walked off the stage.
And instantly the same internet that seven years earlier called for Sony CEO’s head to be delivered to them on a platter began prophesying the end of the XBox. And yes, I do agree that Microsoft screwed up. Honestly they screwed up pretty big. But to say the race is over before it even started is a tad ignorant. While it is no doubt going to be a game of PR catch up and damage control, to say things have ended and the killing blow has been dealt already may be taking things too far.
The PlayStation 3 made a lot of mistakes during its life cycle including a high price point but it survived because of a loyal fanbase that went back to it regardless. The same may be true of the XBox One. There will still be people lined up to get it at midnight on launch who can’t wait to up their gamescore and continue on with the next iterations of Halo and get on Live with all of their Call of Duty friends. Do I think Microsoft is going to win this generation? No. But I also don’t feel like the death knell has been struck either. Console lifecycles last a long time nowadays and this is merely the opening volley in this war.