Can Sony Possibly Beat Microsoft At E3 2017? – Forbes

God of War.

Credit: Sony

God of War.

If there’s one thing we love to do every year at E3, it’s compete. The expo is not exactly a zero-sum game, but it’s hard not to view the dueling press conferences as an epic struggle from which one company can walk away with all the prizes: the most hype, the least criticism, the memes with the most swagger. Recently, the competition has been a head to head: Microsoft vs Sony, the two major console manufacturers which tend to use the stage for the biggest announcements. It isn’t to say that Nintendo isn’t a big deal this year, just that it does its own thing while those two other companies go up against each other. And this year, it’s Microsoft’s fight to lose.

In past years which seen pitched battles: Xbox One vs. PlayStation 4 locked in a pre-release battle, Xbox One vs. PlayStation 4 going one year out, and so forth. Sony has done very well in a number of these competitions, particularly in that crucial set of press conferences that set up the PS4 for its powerful debut against Microsoft’s poorly messaged and expensive Xbox One. Since then, Microsoft has made up a lot of ground by announcing some pretty impressive new initiatives, but Sony has a way of leaning heavily on anticipated software and momentum, walking away with a strong position no matter what. Sony has been winning the console war, and with that comes a major advantage in the press conference war.

This year, however, it’s not quite a fair fight. Microsoft has a console to show off and Sony does not, meaning that people have a whole lot more outstanding questions about Microsoft’s press conference and a lot more reasons to tune in. Sony will be leaning hard on software, which has been ints strong suit in the past, making for better trailers and generally doing a better job of energizing fanbases. But if we consider E3 a contest for excitement and eyeballs, Microsoft has a major leg up when it comes to generating attention.

So is there anything Sony can do to “win” E3? It’s a tall order. Timing, however, will play a huge role here. Sony’s press conference takes place the day after Microsoft’s, and that could inform the scenario where we decide to hand the crown to Sony. Essentially, it’s Microsoft’s to lose. The company has to thread the needle with Xbox Scorpio in a number of ways, announcing a palatable price that still takes into account the powerful hardware it’s worked into the machine, and it has to make the argument for why this is an essential machine without compromising its current lineup. It also has to announce or show off some big new exclusives, which has not historically been its strong suit. Microsoft’s show will run long, which could work against it. If we see a long marathon of relatively uninteresting games, it can really wear on the Scorpio hype. Then again, an endless succession of genuinely exciting games could wash over the press like a flood for a whole day.

But that’s how Sony could win: if Microsoft gives us a lackluster showing, with maybe a misstep or two with regards to Scorpio price or messaging. Then, Sony swaggers on with its trademark stagecraft and reminds us that the PS4 has won the console war already and that it’s a great place to play some impressive games. This is how Sony has behaved in the past, winning through confidence while Microsoft plays catch-up with platform-oriented announcements. It’s a much taller order this year, but it’s not impossible. I still expect a strong showing from Microsoft and Xbox Scorpio, but stranger things have most certainly happened.

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