Sony v Microsoft - let the 2013 games begin
The opening shots in the battle for the hearts and minds of gamers have been fired at this year’s E3
People watch a demonstration of Call of Duty at the Activision exhibit at E3, the Electronic Entertainment Expo, in Los Angeles, California
With some months to go before the next generation of games consoles hit the shelves, the battle of the next generation consoles is well and truly under way, with the opening shots fired at this year’s E3.
Although the companies were there to showcase the games they were planning for their respective consoles, the opening buzz was inevitably about the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4 and how they stacked up against each other.
For Microsoft, as it had promised, E3 really was all about the games. Unlike previous years, here were no celebrity guests to plug games on stage; all the focus was on what we would be playing on the new console and when.
Microsoft executives took to the stage to talk about the exclusive games coming to the system, from a new version of Forza Motorsport to Ryse: Son of Rome and a new Halo title due next year.
However Sony was considered to have taken an early lead over Microsoft following its press conference on Monday when it finally revealed what the PlayStation 4 would look like and how much it would cost, in addition to the line up of games it planned to bring exclusively to the console. At €399, it will be €100 cheaper than its Microsoft rival at launch.
It was the announcement though about its digital rights management – or lack thereof – that drew the most attention. Defying expectations, Sony Computer Entertainment America chief executive Jack Tretton said there would be no restrictions imposed on using the physical discs in the PlayStation 4, regardless of whether they were new, borrowed or preowned games.
There had been no change on policy from the PlayStation 3, Tretton said, putting to rest equally the concerns of consumers and retailers, many of which rely on the trade-in business to make a profit.
Sony was clear and to the point. No DRM and no need for an always-on internet connection, another feature of Microsoft’s cloud-connected console that had raised eyebrows among some consumers. The announcement drew a cheer from the crowd.
“If the console had backwards compatibility, it would pretty much seal the early battle in Sony’s favour,” said Paul Jackson, principal analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media.
“Gamers will be pleased by Sony’s pricing and support for many independent developers and delighted that Sony isn’t following Microsoft’s strategy of requiring an always-on broadband connection and imposing restrictions on sales of second-hand games. This might be enough to give the PS4 an early lead in sales and buzz on release.”
Damian Thong, an analyst at Macquarie Securities in Tokyo, called the first round for Sony.
“We now think Sony and its PS4 have the edge over Microsoft’s Xbox One,” Thong wrote in a report. “The PS4 offers gamers a more powerful machine at $100 cheaper than the Xbox One.”