Tuesday, May 09, 2006

E3 Conferences: So, Who Won?

It's easier to say who lost in this case. Sony easily put itself in the same position Microsoft did last year and had a horrible showing. Where did Sony go wrong? Well, I have a few ideas:

1. Sony didn't open with a splash of any kind
Microsoft opened showing off Gears of War, their top title for the holiday. Nintendo had Miyamoto come out and show off the controller and people behind him show off Ubisoft's Red Steel...and then they went into a little marketing video showing off people playing games with the controller. Then they showed off Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess about 19 minutes in, their biggest game of the holiday season. It took Sony 25 minutes before they got to any PS3 game, that being Gran Turismo HD, which was just a demo built on assets from Gran Turismo 4. Roughly 50+ minutes in before another PS3 game is shown.

2. Sony chose to push numbers first
Nintendo and Microsoft put them in the middle. Why did Sony push the numbers first? Well, it's the only thing they can stand on at this moment. I still believe Sony's thought process is that the Playstation brand is so ingrained into people that they will go out and purchase the PS3.

3. Sony should have released the price later
Yeah, this was dumb. Word going into E3 was that Sony was not going to release a price, which would have been the smart thing to do...unless they want people to start saving early.

4. The price is way too high
If people know about the differences, who in their right mind is going to go out and purchase the $500 version instead of the $600 one? Sony is beating its own self with this price. The 360 will probably outsell it here in the US/Europe and the Wii will probably outsell it in Japan at that price. Nevermind that the system is 11 lbs. and about the size of the original Xbox. I seem to remember Japanese people saying they didn't like the big box design of the Xbox...now Sony is bringing out a system that is just as big?

5. What games are coming out at launch?
Microsoft faced much the same problem last year, although they did end up bringing out Perfect Dark Zero, Kameo and Project Gotham Racing on launch day. Sony didn't show off anything first-party to me that will be out at launch. They showed off some first-party stuff, but didn't say whether they were launch titles or not. Once again, I go back to my God of War II thought...why is it on PS2 and coming in February with the PS3 so close? Possible answer: Sony is farther behind on PS3 games than they want to be.

In the end the winners are both Nintendo and Microsoft, but I'm not sure who to say is #1 coming out of the conferences. Sony now finds itself being outdone by both companies. The Wii has a better 3D controller than the gyroscopic PS3 controller. Microsoft is going to broaden Live to allow people to play cross-platform on PC and 360 along with tying it will cell phones as well. The only thing I saw Sony show off about the online system is their new music store that will probably fail when put up against the iTunes juggernaut.

As my friend Bill Harris said, Sony may be in total disarray at this point. From sources it sounds like the gyroscopic controller was a relatively new development and they didn't show it off very well with Warhawk honestly. The best game they showed off was Resistance, but once again...is it a launch title?

In the end I'd give the slight nod to Microsoft simply because their presentation seemed more tight and they had a lot of good looking games to show off. Nintendo showed off the innovation and have an instant system seller in Zelda, but they didn't reveal a price or date as of yet. In the end I think the last image of Halo 3 at the end of Microsoft's presentation was reason enough to believe Microsoft may have taken the place of Sony as the 800-pound gorilla...we shall see...