Xbox Came To Fight But Still Lost
Phil Spencer walked out and immediately showed what Xbox is most well known for: numbers! 50 trailers! 18 exclusives!! 15 world premieres!!! I won’t lie, the list of games they showed is a long and daunting one. Microsoft went all in this year and if you are a supporter of the console, you had to have walked away feeling very good about things.
Xbox had to do one thing this year: prove it deserves to be in the ring with Sony and Nintendo and honestly, they did just that. You might not be a fan of their library, but they came to E3 2018 almost as an afterthought. They had to convince everyone that they are still very much a contender. It wasn’t a perfect conference, but it did exactly what it needed to do.
As far as conference flow, I would even say that Xbox won. There was hardly any lull in their presentation. Microsoft may have taken 100+ minutes to say what they could have in 75, but no one thing wore out its welcome. Sony, however, tried for something theatrical but failed in its delivery. Instead, it created a huge intermission after its premier trailer before getting back on track with the rest of their conference.
But what a conference it was! Back in my What Can We Expect From Sony’s “Big Four”, I mentioned how The Last of Us Part 2 would show a cinematic to action cutscene transition. I also mentioned how they had to show the protagonists and they did exactly that. We discussed how Spider-Man needed to show his rich rogue’s gallery and gameplay and it did. I talked how Sucker Punch needs to separate itself from Infamous gameplay and design and they did that with Ghost of Tsushima. Naively, I was hoping that Death Stranding would release a small side “download now” game that loosely tied into the title like they did with P.T., but I also mentioned how you can never guess what Kojima will do. It doesn’t matter if they showed a Fed-Ex trailer or not, people want anything Kojima.
This was after a 5 day lead up to E3, showcasing games like Tetris Effect, Days Gone and Beat Saber. Sony was able to create a swirl of interest each day leading to an E3 presentation that may not have had 50 games, but everything they showed had my attention. No sizzle reel to inflate numbers and no simply being a showcase for third parties. Each trailer from Spider-Man and Ghost of Tsushima all the way down to Trover saves the Universe and Control had me wanting more.
Microsoft showed franchise favorites and returning power houses. They showed highly anticipated third party trailers and created a renewed passion to invest in Microsoft Studios by adding the likes of Playground Games, Undead Labs, and Ninja Theory. They are even starting a new studio in Santa Monica, a stone’s throw from many Sony Worldwide Studios. Xbox nailed everything, but is still relying on Sony to stumble to finally pull ahead. I really enjoy a good buffet once in a while, but nothing beats sitting down to my favorite meal and having it cooked to perfection.