There were five conferences before Sony delivered their evening conference. Only one of those five was given by a direct competitor of Sony's, Microsoft. As we covered, the Xbox and Windows gaming parent delivered an excellent conference. Microsoft showed off 42 games, half of which were exclusive to Xbox One and/or Windows 10. So was Sony able to match that quantity, and if not, then were they able to make up for it in quality?
This year, we've seen a shift in how E3 conferences are done. In the past, the companies would trot out a CEO or developer in a t-shirt and blazer, wearing a flesh-colored mic, to talk about their upcoming game. At a point, pageantry was all the rage, bringing for on stage stunts and celebrity guests. The reaction was often negative. Viewers just wanted to see games, and more of them. Gone are the days of someone interjecting between each trailer, at least so far as Microsoft and Sony are concerned. Only rarely would a big wig come out on stage to talk about what they had just shown or what they were about to show.
Sony in no way met the bar, in terms of game quantity, that Microsoft set. However, the quality of the games show is unquestionably great. The problem with a lot of them is they didn't feel real. A "bullshot" is a screenshot or piece of footage of a game that in no way represents the final graphical and performance product of the game. A lot of the trailers shown, even though some were "captured using in-game engine" or showed off gameplay were clearly not going to be the final product. Spider-Man in particular felt scripted. Still, the hype of seeing a Shadow of the Colossus sequel (or remake?) was undeniable.
The Playstation conference was all about the intended experience. Even the audience members were witness to light shows, fog machines, and men hanging from the rafters, all to pull them into the experience the trailers were trying to convey. There's value in marketing in this fashion. That value is short term, however. This conference is meant to be talked about through Twitter. Fast and short reactions, in the moment and excited. In the cold light of day, blemishes become clear.
That's not to say the games looked bad, or what Sony did was maliciously dishonest. However, if they won't want to be accused of outright lying, and facing backlash on release day for these titles, real gameplay will have to be shown. Of course, the game has to be played on the PS4, not on a PC, as well. Still, that in-the-moment, Twitter-hyped, feeling was electric. Uncharted, God of War, Days Gone and many others looked exciting, and the hope is that the final product will look close to those trailers, and the intended experience will be felt.
There were hiccups in the presentation. If you watched on Twitch, you might have noticed the audio becoming distorted, especially the music. In the very first trailer we didn't get direct audio. Instead what we heard was the muffled theater audio, forcing many viewers to crank the volume up or see if things were better on Youtube.
It's fitting Sony had their conference in what appeared to be a theater, where plays would be performed. The whole thing was a performance, albeit an entertaining one, but the strings aren't invisible. Yet Sony presented the trailers in the right fashion: one after the other, little to no interruption. Just a playlist of the upcoming hits. There's disappointment in not seeing a Fromsoft game on stage, I'm not going to lie.
Overall, Sony's conference had more games than Microsoft that I'm looking forward to, but I can't say, objectively, that Sony's was better. The conference was empty calories. Feels filling in the moment and tastes great, but ultimately is not filling and left many wanting more. Still, at least Sony can say it got a passing grade, which more conferences than not cannot boast. B+
|+ Some pageantry and flash for excitement.||– Mostly style, little substance.|
|+ Amazing games that many are looking forward to.||– Audio issues early on.|
|+ Their support for VR continues and improves.|