It’s here! It’s here! It’s finally time for E3! My favourite time to be proudly part of – and a massively geeky super-fan of – the games industry! Yippee!

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Oh wait. That awkward expression on your face. That was last week…? …poop.

Joking aside (though I do need a new alarm clock, come to think of it) – we just had E3 2013! And holy heck, for the first time in a long time, it was full of the kinds of thrills and spills that go hand-in-hand with my absolutely favourite time of a console generation cycle – the very start.

The very start of a console generation cycle is that once- or twice-a-decade moment when promises are made, when stakes are raised and where monumental power-shifts can materialise before your (and the Internet’s) very eyes.

Speaking of monumental power-shifts – judging by my new-found dabblings with the wonderful world of Twitter (look me up, I won’t bite) and through talking with friends in and out of the industry, it seems that, for now, the former undisputed champion has reclaimed the crown. While everyone I knew owned a PlayStation 2 many moons ago, in this current generation I’ve pretty much seen a 50/50 split between mates of mine sitting on the PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360 sides of the fence, with perhaps an ever-so-slightly more prominent lean towards Microsoft’s machine (and apologies to Nintendo fans – despite the undeniable quality of Nintendo’s output, it seems they’ve lost relevance, as far as just my friends are concerned).

Now though, I don’t know a single cutting-edge (sorry again, Nintendo) or likely-to-be-an-early-adopter gamer rooting for Microsoft and their Xbox One at this stage, with the team’s feelings pretty well documented here on Ready Up. Add the fact that Microsoft’s Don Mattrick later dropped what many have perceived as an atomic-facepalm for Microsoft (I guess Adam Orth is ‘dealing with’ other things these days), and things could look better for the Seattle-based corporation, frankly.

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Put simply, Sony showed Microsoft how it’s done in many ways, all while addressing the concerns of players, beautifully summed up in 22 seconds by this video:

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Two lessons learned: give people what they want. And doing so in a witty fashion always gets extra points. Here Sony, take this. As my friends and colleagues will vouch, only great work gets one of these bad-boys:

Here’s one for you, Nintendo fans

But, as an Xbox 360 owner in the here and now, I still have a smudge of faith that Microsoft may just be able to turn this around. I haven’t a clue how, mind. In my eyes, yes, they’ve dug themselves a significant hole, in which they are – without a doubt – up to their eyeballs. But the top of their head is just about above ground – someone or something might be able to pull them out before time runs out.

There's still time!

There’s still time!

For instance, Microsoft could just about squeeze out one of the things I think they sorely need – a truly compelling reason from a gamer’s point of view for the updated Kinect, be it a game, application or function. Aside from the sharing or used game issues, it’s the price point that everyone seems focussed on, seemingly forgetting that the £75 difference between PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One is almost certainly down to Microsoft’s offering being bundled with the high-tech new Kinect camera – whether you want it or not. I’m not begrudging Microsoft’s choice here – it obviously makes business sense to place emphasis on a technology on which you’ve spent a huge sum developing. I’m just doubtful, these days at least, that it’s what we gamers want.

So in conclusion of my E3 opinions, I shall say this. You may have won this battle Sony, but the war has just begun. And I, for one (no pun intended… maybe) can’t wait to see how it plays out.

  • Germain Diaz

    I won’t lie, im an xbox 360 die hard! Always
    have been, but with microsofts recent bull crap? Think the old Playstation me
    may be making a come back ;)

    But alas, a spark of hope within my xbox soul burns with the idea that microsoft goes back on its nonsense. Only time will tell i guess.

    Either way, ill see you on the battlefield ;) !

  • Loz

    Great blog Giles! I have to say I’m kinda glad that Microsoft have made such a balls up, because the divide that you speak of (for the first few months at least) won’t be on next gen. Out of all my gaming friends only one is getting an Xbox One, the rest are staying current gen or getting a PS4, so hello to game nights with more buds in the near future!

  • To be entirely honest, I couldn’t really care less what Microsoft does with the Xbox One now. Even if they retract their decision to put mental online check-ins and DRM on it, my experiences with Xbox Live compared to PlayStation+ has left me with changed views on what constitutes good value for money.

    Not only that, but I’ve already pre-ordered a PS4 now, and can’t afford both the consoles at this moment in time. The only thing that would swing me now is if Sony started doing stuff I didn’t like and Microsoft simultaneously started doing things I did like. As it stands though, I have no reason to ever buy an Xbox One.

    Also, I feel Nintendo is having quite the renaissance just now – I’d be hard-pressed to find someone I follow on Twitter who doesn’t have a 3DS and Animal Crossing: New Leaf, for one thing (myself included).

  • Ben The Bat

    nice blog G-man. I think atomic facepalm is an appropriate word when
    reflecting on Microsoft’s recent blunders. I am intrigued as to how this
    will all play out in the long run & as someone who is a PS3 guy
    (nothing against 360 just so ya know), it will indeed be fun finding out :)

  • Celeste

    Nice title. :)

    I agree that it’s not a clear win just yet. I envisage a lot of those people currently complaining about the Xbox One actually buying the console when Microsoft pulls its finger out and finally demonstrates some interesting gameplay which utilises the incorporated features. But there’s no doubt that the way MS and Sony have played this will result in a significant blow to Xbox One sales. Microsoft’s silence on the controversial issues was just not cool.

    I’ll be getting both, so will be able to directly compare the two experiences. I have always loved PlayStation, not least for its fantastic and creative exclusives, and will be happy to see its return. But I like the ‘living room’ experience that Xbox One promises, and that it will have a windows-type interface. I want to be able to sit my ass down and have one system through which I can do almost everything easily (‘almost’ because I still want my PC for gaming and searching for pictures of cats standing on their hind legs). The cloud tech interests me too, and given that there have been a lot of misunderstandings about Xbox One restrictions I’m willing to look more into the whole thing.

  • Greg

    I bought a PS3 on day of release, even before owning an XBox 360, however if you ask any of my friends what ‘type of person’ I am it’s and XBox person. I love the pad and the communications above all else. I’m all about multiplayer and will quite happily argue the points of why XBL is worth paying for (and it is naysayers!). PSN’s comms are so bad that I actually have a group of friends who only use Skype while playing PS3 online (damn you Uncharted for luring me back).

    That said XBOne and Microsoft’s attitude has pushed me onto PS4 almost as much as PS4 has won me with it’s own merit (comms are looking far improved!). To me, at least, it appears that Microsoft don’t want gamers anymore – they want families who will buy games as part of their family entertainment. It’s like they don’t want to be associated with the ‘dark/dangerous’ gamer crowd that buy from them now – imagine if Worther’s Originals rebranded as a hip, cool toffee and shed their uncool, yet loyal, elderly client base in favour of the (possible) quick buck – that’s us!

    Well despite my love of a good old Microsoft Worther’s Original, I shall be enjoying the forseeable future with my friends over a bag of Sony Liquorish Allsorts!

  • Shaun Davis

    Thoroughly enjoyed this post, Giles. Started off strong with an amusing title and the inclusion of Andy Williams was a nice touch.

    On the subject of the Xbox One versus the PlayStation 4—although I take pride in having owned both sets of consoles, over the last two generations—I have always been somewhat of an undercover Sony fan boy, so I’ll admit that Microsoft’s act of crapping the bed, at E3, brought with it a crooked grin from yours truly.

    Sony started off the current generation very slowly — a high price point and a certain self-belief (that many might have confused for arrogance) hurt them, but over the course of five years I feel that Sony learned their lesson and found the time to release some of the best console-exclusive games of this generation whilst simultaneously dropping the price of their console at regular intervals. So surely, I thought, nobody would be foolhardy enough to ever retread such a bogus journey. Nope. I was wrong — because listening to Microsoft at E3, 2013 it sounded exactly like I was listening to Sony Entertainment circa 2005.

    If one does not learn from history… blah, blah, blah. You get the gist.

    Microsoft refused to listen to the consumer and I hope it hits them where it hurts: in the wallet. They won’t be getting the time of day from me, this go around. Don Mattrick’s comments only served to bolster my beliefs.

    I’ve already pre-ordered my PS4 and a copy of inFamous: Second Son; I’ve got a strong feeling that, in this generation, I’ve backed the winning team.

  • Barry

    Microsoft PR team have certainly given themselves a bit of a mountain to climb, they are heavily invested in the One and I really can’t see the console being as restrictive as most people seem to view it.
    Steam had similar problems during it’s early days, people were painting dystopian visions of the future and were worried about always online and DRM. Now it’s a loved platform for gaming.

    “There is no passion so contagious as that of fear.”

    Be more optimistic gamers :)

  • John Brown

    I’ve got all 3, felt I had to but haven’t turned the Wii on for about a year. The PS3 is a nice box let down by an over-whelming navigation system, the 360 is where my heart lives.
    HOWEVER! The PS4 promises to deliver in two areas; humility (thank you to Sony for realising that WE actually do matter to you) and expectation setting in terms of what we as gamers are going to get.
    The Xbox ONE has fallen between two stools currently. The Entertainment world is still crawling out from underneath a pile of DVD’s and wondering what this ‘download’ stuff actually means, and the Gaming world simply doesn’t car that you can swipe to get access to a TV schedule.
    I said on the Ready Up podcast that I believe Microsoft is making a strategic play and I still believe that. As a gamer I’m a little disappointed for the short term. As a tech-head I’m thrilled at the possibilities in the longer terms and THATS where the PS4 starts to look short of a story. Right now the PS4 is a fantastic peice of gaming gear, but that’s it. Are there long term plans? If so we don’t know and that may cause some to take the more strategic view and go down the XBox ONE route.

    I will be getting both. It’ll be XBox ONE (XBone – hehe) first though and then the PS4.

  • Giles Armstrong

    Wowser – thanks everyone for taking the time to comment. I haven’t seen a response like this to one of my blogs in some time. ^_^

    Please find replies below your comments.

  • Giles Armstrong

    Thanks for mentioning the song. Totally sets the tone I’m aiming for. ^_^

    I’m pretty much with you in this regard, as you can probably tell from the blog. Sony seemed to say everything I wanted to hear, Microsoft less so.

    And it’s hard to argue with Sony’s exclusives, in my opinion.

    It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out over the months leading up to the respective launches.

  • Giles Armstrong

    I’ll be sure to update my RU author profile with relevant Gamertag / Sony equivalent details in due course. ^_^

    Can’t remember the last time I played an online game just for fun…

  • Giles Armstrong

    Evidence, if ever it were needed, that people like to feel like they’re being thought of and listened to. +10 points to Sony, in my opinion.

    I have a feeling Sony’s long term plans will become evident as we near launch, maybe one the goodwill generated by their E3 showing slips into the default cynicism of most of us gamers.

  • Giles Armstrong

    Good points well made. The beauty of these consoles compared to the ‘good old days’ is that, with many aspects of the console, certain things can be updated at a later point. Things that don’t necessarily work can evolve.

    Not all things of course. Still, my point is – and I think we agree on this – it’s far too early to tell what will happen.

  • Giles Armstrong

    Beautifully put. +10 Analogy Points ^_^

    But yeah, great points. The thing I get most from MS’ E3 messaging is that they’re targeting the widest audience possible, hence the focus on non-game features.

    Time will tell what they pull out of the bag. I’ll buy you a beer if it turns out to be a Werther’s Original. ^_^

  • Giles Armstrong

    Ha! I was worried the ‘4’ looked like a typo! ^_^

    Yeah, agreed. Let’s wait and see what happens when the dust settles. And give me a shout if you write up your findings between the two consoles.

  • Giles Armstrong

    Thanyoo sir!

    Just to be clear, I wrote “what many have perceived as an atomic-facepalm” – just reporting on the impression I get from t’Internet, not necessarily my own opinion there.

  • Giles Armstrong

    I do like that Nintendo are just focussing on games that please people, as per Michael Slevin’s excellent recent blog (look it up if you missed it).

    From what I hear, the new Animal Crossing is full of nice little design touches, it seems to brim with thoughtfulness. I might have to pick up a 3DS after all, eh?

  • Giles Armstrong

    Agreed. Time will tell.

  • Senar Koraltan

    its interesting to see how people reacted to the whole next gen console debate, a lot of people are saying Sony used the DRM issue to their advantage as a PR stunt, stating after the conference that its up to publishers to enforce DRM. Personally I’m not too bothered that Sony took the chance to take full advantage of this, because there have been many a time when they have done these kind of sly tactics to each other over the years, plus first party games are confirmed as not having DRM and that’s great because Sony have some really good studios at their disposal!

  • Simes

    So Steam doesn’t have online requirements or DRM? Just because a lot of people like it doesn’t mean it’s not basically anti-consumer at its core. They also have the benefit of frequent sales to help soften the blow, plus of course PC gamers also have a selection of DRM-free alternatives. What you’re describing as optimism seems more like “deal with it” to me.

  • Vitty

    This was such a good read Giles. I for one (pun intended) will definitely be staying faithful to Microsoft!