I’ve been sitting on the E3 press conference information for a couple of days now trying to make sense of it all. When Sony first had their lackluster press conference in April revealing the concepts behind their new console the internet was not kind. The Nintendo “quit” E3 and Microsoft had the worst new product introduction in the history of gaming consoles. Suddenly Sony was the darling of the gaming community.
I was convinced that Microsoft would internalize their mistake, figure out what the community wanted and then turn around public perception at their E3 press conference. I was wrong. Microsoft did focus on games more than home entertainment this time around, but nagging questions about online connectivity and user game licensing were not answered in full. Sony took full advantage of this at their press conference and mercilessly (and rightly) mocked Microsoft to loud cheers from the audience.
Then, the internet happened. Within 24 hours Microsoft became the most hated name in gaming circles. Facebook posts, tweets and image macros all pointed to a newly formed legion of Sony fans who would readily forsake their previously favored company. Microsoft wept.
If we back up a bit we can see that Microsoft’s policy on used games was a bonehead move but probably won’t trouble the average consumer to a great degree. Valve’s marketplace on Steam has similar aspects and I actually have saved more money in buying games. I wait for games to go on sale for the price point I want, and they eventually do. On the flip side Microsoft has shown a real reluctance to engage in competitive pricing digitally and they can be a stubborn lot.
Until the holiday season rolls around we won’t actually know how these systems are going to perform. It is clear the negative public perception of Microsoft is inflated compared to reality, but if people don’t buy they console Microsoft could have a very serious problem on their hands that Halo and the Gears of War franchises won’t be able to save.