Over the last few years, Sony’s E3 press conferences have become known for being flashy events, where it trotted out one big trailer and announcement after another. At some point, these conferences became all flash and little substance, as we were given some exciting trailers but no real substantial gameplay or concrete release dates, only vague release windows. While keeping the hype train rolling is what E3 has really become all about, it’s clear that Sony is simply running out of ammunition to use, to keep that same level of hype that past shows have had.
This fact is highlighted by Sony’s big change in its press conference for this year. The company has announced ahead of time that its conference will mostly consist of deep dives on four big games; Spider-Man, The Last of Us Part II, Ghost of Tsushima, and Death Stranding. The publisher has been changing gears as of late, with its PlayStation Experience keynote also sporting a much different tone. While there were announcements, their PSX opening was a few hours of them chatting with developers, getting new details on upcoming games in a much more casual manner.
From the sounds of it, E3 2018 is going to be somewhat similar for Sony, and it’s definitely an experimental year. It’s hard to live up to the memorable past press conferences, with hype hitting critical mass in 2015 when Sony announced The Last Guardian, the Final Fantasy VII Remake, and Shenmue 3. Then in 2016 when they announced God of War, Days Gone, Death Stranding, and Spider-Man, it happened all over again. Considering all but one of those games still haven’t released, hype just can’t work the same way this year. Sony really needs to commit, and show fans that all of these experiences really are coming along, and have at least a time frame for release.
Ultimately this isn’t a problem, however, as the sheer fact that Sony can feel comfortable in changing up its conference is proof enough that they’ve already won. It’s no secret that the PS4 has sold better than the Xbox One, with the PS4 passing 73 million and the Xbox One sitting somewhere over 30 million, seeing as Microsoft has stopped releasing sales numbers. The sales for Xbox One aren’t bad, they just pale in comparison, and this is highlighted by the number of exclusives that have come to each system in the last few years.
Microsoft clearly has more ground to cover at this E3, as previous years have seen Sony announce big exclusive after big exclusive, while Microsoft focused on a few key games or features, like backward compatibility. Sony announced early, and now its far-off announcements are finally starting to pay off. This E3 it has the ability to just kick back and focus on its big games, while looping in a few announcements here and there. You can bet there’ll still be a trailer or two along with their deep dives, too.
Sony is even trying something entirely different, announcing something new every day leading up to the show with their “Countdown to E3.” So far we’ve seen Days Gone get a release date and The Tetris Effect announced for PS4 and PSVR. These are both announcements that you could see happening during the conference, especially Days Gone, but for some reason, they happened beforehand. Sony has the luxury of experimenting and doing things differently, whereas Microsoft really needs to come out guns blazing with a big press conference, and some huge announcements if it wants to try and close the gap.
The last few E3’s have set Sony up nicely, and we already know what’s coming from the company, but the same can’t be said for Microsoft. Sony has hit all the right notes for building hype, and now they can sit back and reap the rewards. Even just one big announcement, something like Bloodborne 2, along with some real looks at Death Stranding and The Last of Us Part II, would help solidify Sony’s conference this year as a good one, if not great. It’s a big year for all three big publishers, and it’ll be interesting to see how Sony continues to change its approach to conferences and announcements.