The most magical time of the year for gamers is nearly upon us: E3. Soon, the curtain will be raised on what the major publishers are planning for the rest of 2017, 2018, and beyond. We all like to compare announcements and declare a ‘winner’ of E3, the publisher who had the most surprising and generally awesome games, even though we, the gamers, are most definitely the winners. Of all the big companies who have press conferences, Sony in particular has had strong showings over the past couple of years, but I have bad news for you Playstation fans, as things stand, Sony doesn’t have the position to win E3 this year. While pessimistic, all one has to do is look at their main competitors, Microsoft and Nintendo, and the plethora of announced games to cast doubt on Sony in 2017.
Between the two teasers for Sony’s E3 (found here and here), there are 9 AAA games, all of which Sony are positioning as major tent-pole games for the PS4 moving forward. Very few have release dates, but the games we know about will likely be spread out over the next few years. Titles like God of War and Days Gone will likely come out either this year or early 2018 while The Last of Us Part II and Death Stranding will be lucky to reach store shelves in 2018. Sony has essentially guaranteed that these games will make some sort of appearance during their press conference, which is going to take a significant chunk of time, even if we only saw cinematics for each game, which isn’t realistic.
Factor in third party games that Sony could have deals with, like Call of Duty WWII or Destiny 2, and that leaves little time for bombshell announcements. While there are definitely games we don’t know about yet, Playstation fans have a pretty good idea of what they will be playing into what will likely be late 2019. Knowing most of the games we will see going into a conference does not make for a particularly exciting or memorable event.
It’s hard to not worry about Sony being overshadowed when you look at Microsoft and Nintendo have to reveal. Microsoft especially, has a new console to reveal, which, whether it is a good console or not, will generate a lot of buzz. Everyone knows that Microsoft hasn’t had the best go of it this generation, but Scorpio can be their chance to redeem themselves, take a step in a new direction, or be the final nail in the coffin. No matter what it ends up being, everyone will want to talk about it.
Similarly, Nintendo is hot off the release of its newest console, the Switch, which is doing gangbusters at the moment. Everybody loves the convenience of playing console-quality games anywhere they want, but Nintendo still has a lot to discuss regarding both future software and quality of life updates for the system. Outside of the two summer games for the Switch, ARMS and Splatoon 2, and Super Mario Odyssey, presumably the major holiday title, Nintendo has kept quiet on what is coming to their hybrid beyond this year. Along with games, fans are curious about how the system itself will develop in the coming months.
Essentially, Nintendo fans have a lot of questions: What has Rare been up to? Where is Virtual Console? What am I playing in 2018? And those fans are clamoring for the answers, while gamers on the fence want to know whether Switch is a proper fit for them or not.
Sony is by no means in a bad position. Having too many games to talk about is perhaps the best problem any publisher could have. What Sony has to overcome this year is the relative predictability of their conference as compared to the plethora of unknown quantities that Microsoft and Nintendo are set to reveal. Surprises are inherently extincting, but Sony has left themselves very little room for them to have surprises, positioning themselves in a significantly weaker position than their competitors when it comes to ‘wow factor’.