The dust has finally started to settle on this year’s biggest video game event, so which of the big three – Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo – ‘won’?
Recent E3s have been dominated by hardware announcements – the Wii U, PS4 and XBONE – coupled with failed attempts to redefine gaming consoles as universal entertainment hubs (I’m looking at you, Microsoft). That made the solely software-oriented nature of this year’s conference oddly refreshing; surely it’s all about the games anyway? Indeed, Microsoft’s Phil Spencer set the tone in his opening lines at the Xbox conference, promising: “We’re dedicating our entire briefing to games.” Thus deciding who ‘won’ E3 2014 really comes down to deciding which company’s exclusive titles managed to excite the most.
Third place: Sony
I was shocked to discover that, despite being a self-proclaimed Sony fanboy, I wasn’t going to give the Japanese giant this year’s most dubious gaming gong.
Sony by no means had a bad show, just a thoroughly solid and somewhat unexciting one. It was a conference heavily defined by AAA sequels and remakes. The biggest announcements (Little Big Planet 3, Uncharted 4 and Last of Us Remastered) will no doubt be great, if not revolutionary. Similarly Sony’s main new IP, The Order 1866, looked good but certainly not breathtaking.
In fact the only real take-home moment was a stunning new trailer for No Man’s Sky, the highly anticipated open-world title from Hello Games. The game, a timed PlayStation exclusive, claims to come with “a procedural universe… so vast, so boundless, it’s actually infinite. And we don’t even know what’s out there.”
Thus ultimately Sony’s best reveal was a game that will, in due course, be playable on other consoles – relegating it to third.
Second place: Microsoft
Though not miles ahead, the Xbox conference just about snatched second spot. This was primarily because of just how awesome their new exclusive Sunset Overdrive looked: very, very, very awesome indeed.
Also impressive was the Xbox One’s forthcoming support of exiting indie titles: White Night in particular. This artistic psychological thriller looks like it’s going for a similar experience to 2010’s stellar indie cult hit Limbo.
Still, much like Sony’s show, Microsoft’s event was littered with sequels. An announcement of another Forza was coupled with yet more Halo (yawn). Nevertheless the company’s step back towards games was certainly a reassuring move in the right direction.
With disappointing Wii U sales and heavy financial losses the Japanese games firm has been under immense pressure to deliver, and it couldn’t have made a better start towards recovery than its E3 performance. Nintendo’s show was surprisingly shorter, sweeter and far funnier than its competitor’s attempts.
Its conference came in well under 50 minutes, around half the length of the Xbox and PlayStation shows. In that time Nintendo managed to show off the stunning new Zelda, the highly anticipated Hyrule Warriors, Bayonetta 2 and new Super Smash Bro features, as well as revealing Yoshi’s Woolly World (believe me – it looks great). Oh, and it showed off Omega Ruby, a 3D remake of the best Pokémon game of all time (that’s a fact).
Not only that but Nintendo mixed in some brilliant stop-motion comedy shorts starring its most loved characters. Actual humour at E3? Normally that’d almost be enough to win any year. But that isn’t why Nintendo took first place; it won because it revealed genuinely exiting new titles, with expert delivery, at a time when it had the attention of the entire gaming world. Nintendo sealed its victory when it reported that pretty much all of these great new games are due out in 2015 – right around the time when Xbox One and PS4 owners will start yearning for a refreshingly different second games console. First place.