Microsoft has made its big yearbook E3 Shindig today. Of course it is Not E3 because that’s in a graveyard somewhere pointed out by industry know-it-all Jeff Grubb. But unlike Sony, the team at Green decided to keep their Sunday Night Summer Showcase slot. So if you ignore the fact that this was a pre-recorded live stream – there were no Maseratis or Keanu Reeves on an extremely expensive makeshift stage – there it is somehow felt like E3. Little bit. Where were we going with this?
Oh right, yes! So the showcase was targeting titles due for release in the next 12 months, but there probably should have been a big fat asterisk next to Starfield because, um, Yes. We’ll believe it when we see it. Other games included a gorgeous new Forza Motorsport, upcoming arcane co-op shooter Redfall, and some updates to existing versions like Sea of Thieves and Grounded. The platform owner broke its “coming next year” stipulation for an announcement starring Hideo Kojima, but we suppose that’s fair enough — even if it sounds like the cloud-based project is eons away.
All in all it was a perfectly respectable showcase with a selection of good if not overwhelming titles. There was plenty of gameplay, a mix of first-party and third-party content, and we’d argue there’s a fair range of budgets and scope. The best-received announcements seem to be the Persona ports – no word on whether these will be coming to PS5 or PS4, by the way – but we’re talking about one title that first released on the PSP in 2009 and another that will be on the PSVita was released in 2012. You know!
However, our big realization was that everything is on game pass – or nearly anyway everything. you really Yes, really pounded this house. Like to the degree where every single trailer ended with a “Play It Day One on Game Pass” identity and now we see it every time we close our eyes. But if it wasn’t already obvious, it really made it clear just how hard Sony is struggling with its fight new PS Plus tiers. As a reminder, the overhaul launches tomorrow in North America and we still don’t know if the PS1 games will use NTSC ROMs or not – and we do definitely don’t know the full lineup of All PS Plus games.
Of course, Sony sees its business a little differently. There’s aimless chatter about the “virtuous cycle” and how concerned it is that releasing its first-party games on day one on a subscription could hurt the quality of its content. (Well, the Sony-developed MLB The Show 22 aside anyway!) That’s almost certainly all true, but at what point does consumer perception begin with a $69.99 copy of The Last of Us: Part I frown when the competitor it’s all give away*? Said competitor might have pockets worth trillions of dollars, but that’s not really the point, is it?
To be fair, we’ve yet to see what the content flow will look like PS Plus extra and PS Plus Premium – it will take a few months before we can draw definitive conclusions. And while it looks like Microsoft’s business is booming, it’s not as if this is a zero-sum game: the PS5 is doing great, too, except you can’t buy one of the damn things! Perhaps the Japanese giant will find a happy medium between adding big initial releases in a timely manner and registering huge full-price sales — a kind of best of both worlds that pleases everyone, including shareholders.
But another Xbox showcase falls through and we kind of get back to the cyclical conversation: the games have been fine, but the services are doing the heavy lifting. Can Sony keep up with that, considering the parent company has a much smaller kitten? Or is the influence of a competitor’s business model exaggerated? It will certainly be an interesting generation; In the end, the industry probably seems unrecognizable.
Remember, you can catch up on the latest Xbox news courtesy of our friends over at Pure Xbox. Before you traitors leave, however, share your thoughts in the comments section below. Does Sony have a Game Pass issue, or do you pay well for the games you want to play? Think it through in the comments section below.