There’s a moment in everyone’s childhood when they come to grips with the truth about Santa Claus. Whether they find out on their own, or some shithead friend tells them the truth, they ultimately come to a realization that Santa Claus, for all his gift giving glory, Isn’t real. Or is he? There are many parents who can’t bring themselves to crush a child’s innocence. It sticks with a child only for a brief moment. And many of us, wishing we still had some of that innocence, cannot stomach taking it away from our children. So we mask the truth, telling them what they want to hear, even if our children know better–Because we care. And then there are parents who will tell it to them straight, because the world isn’t going to cater to the dream’s of innocence and a child would find out one way or another. This year at E3, depending on your camp (Xbox or PlayStation), you were either told the truth or a half-truth wrapped in a nice white lie.
Xbox – Two Systems, One Platform
Xbox as a specific piece of hardware is dead. It died with the 360 and the introduction of the Xbox One. What we were introduced to on Monday was a platform, one that can be experienced on either a video game console or PC. This year Microsoft decided that innonence is only here for a moment and what’s best is the truth. And that’s what they did…they told us the truth; that we would all be buying one or two new consoles in the next 18 months. Microsoft is following Apple, with an incremental and major hardware upgrade cycle to the Xbox Platform. It starts with ‘Play Anywhere’, a new feature that allows gamers to play games on both Windows 10 PCs and Xbox consoles. This means you can play a game on your Xbox and if you want to, save the game and continue playing on your laptop. It is the first major step towards bridging the gap between PC and console. But it didn’t stop there. Microsoft also introduced two new consoles. The first is the Xbox One’s replacement; The Xbox One S. Like the ’S’ models of the iPhone, this new Xbox brings us incremental updates to the console we currently own. It’s smaller and has new features(like HDR and 4k video), that make it seem like it’s more powerful than the current Xbox that sits under your tv. All the games that were demoed were running on the new Xbox One S. And from what I could tell the games did look a little better. How much better is still up for debate.
For a moment in time everyone wanted the One S, until Microsoft decided to continue giving us the truth, straight up with no chaser. Come holiday 2017, we will all be clamoring to buy Project Scorpio, Microsoft’s true successor to the Xbox One. Six times more powerful, the new Xbox (whatever it might be called), is the truth that we did not want to face. That the current consoles are not what we thought they would be and now we’re finally getting the consoles we deserve. Or at least that’s what we hope. These announcements of course left gamers confused and a little angry. People questioned why they would release two new consoles, and who would buy the One S when Project Scorpio looms around the corner? Why would Microsoft shatter what we know about console cycles and platforms? Because the world is a tough place, and business is business. And just like Santa Claus, it’s better if you know up front.
Sony – Gaming Goodness with Hidden Costs
Sony, is the parent who won’t tell you the entire truth about Santa. Instead, they’ll wrap up the truth in a little bit of a lie, making the truth easier to swallow. It’s the spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down. This year Sony told us that the current PS4 was all we need to enjoy the games we love. With a cinematic presentation, Sony launched an onslaught of trailers and small demos. God of War, Resident Evil, Detroit, Last Guardian, Spider-man…the list goes on and on. PlayStation fans were taking the sugar, not knowing that the medicine was right behind it. For every awesome trailer, there the absence of a potential release date. We had clue of when these great games would reach our hands, or what console we would even need to play them. When Sony showed us the PlayStation VR (PS VR), everyone wanted one. We at least knew when the VR unit would release, October 13th, and how much it would cost – $399. But what we didn’t know is if the games being shown were running on the current console or the Neo. Would VR greatness cost us only $400? Or was there something else lurking around the corner?
It was hard to decipher what is really happening with Sony because they blitzed the senses. They know gamers, and they know just what to say and do to get us to follow along. Sony, like our parents, slightly acknowledged the truth. The PlayStation Neo exists. Like the new Xbox Consoles, we will have to buy them if we want to have the best experience possible. And like Project Scorpio it might cost us more than we think. But Sony believes, like some parents, that the truth isn’t always the best. That sometimes it’s good to have a sense of innocence for as long as possible.
Developers, Publishers, and Gamers -Surviving the Times
Whether you believe the truth or the white lie, one thing is for certain; new consoles are coming. The ones carrying the weight of this truth, however are the developers and publishers. Every publisher this year has had a weak press conference. Most of them talked about things we already knew. There were no surprises, or standouts. But how could a developer show something that isn’t out yet? How could EA show off a game for Scorpio when Microsoft has only teased the details of the system? How could Ubisoft show off the capabilities of the Neo when Sony hasn’t truly acknowledged it? We were all left in a holding pattern, with the real show happening at E3 2017.
As a two console owner I’ve enjoyed all that E3 had to offer this year. There were great games on display from Microsoft and Sony. Sony did an excellent job getting me hyped for future releases. I can’t wait to play the new Spider-man game from Insomanic and attempt to play the new Resident Evil (with all the lights on, and maybe a radio). I’m still thinking about that Komjima trailer(what the hell was that anyway?) Gears of War looks great, and I want that Xbox One S. But everyone isn’t as fortunate as I am. Many people only get one console per generation. And for them, the future is a little cloudy. How will gamers keep up with Microsoft’s ever evolving consoles? And what of the Neo? What impact will it have on the PlayStation ecosystem? These are all questions that need answers, but one thing is for sure – there’s no better time to be a gamer.