The PlayStation 4 Meeting last month was a great announcement. The games shown looked great, the controller was fresh and the specifications were released to great fanfare. This has spurned reports that Microsoft will announce the Durango / Xbox 720 at a similar type of event in the next couple of months. But they should not be forced into a panic announcement. The Sony conference was smoke and mirrors.
Now I do not mean smoke and mirrors in the sense that the show was faked in any way. What I mean is that the PlayStation Meeting was deceptively vague. Yes they detailed the specs and they showed amazing looking games but did they really show one thing that they can’t revisit and change once Microsoft have hastily announced their next generation console? The console itself was not shown, the controller is still in development, the release date was not announced, the price was not even mentioned and the majority of games shown were already announced or were pretty much certain to be coming. The games that were new IPs not previously heard of were not shown in a gameplay form. These things, I think, were not shown for a reason more than that the designs are not final yet. The Meeting was a move by Sony to force Microsoft’s hand without making any moves that would offer the American company an easier next-gen future.
The console no-show was put down to that it’s “just a box” and it is not a final design. The console design is the first thing that you see on a shelf when buying the new hardware and so the aesthetics of a console is one of the major pulls of hardware along with specifications, games and peripherals. The decision not to show it may just be Sony waiting on the design of the Xbox. What are its strengths and weaknesses? Is it aesthetically pleasing or is it just another piece of tech to hide under the television? Sony can tweak these things immediately after they have forced Microsoft into their reveal, creating a superior look and feel.
The controller is, by Sony’s own admission, not finished. Shuhei Yoshida, President of Sony Worldwide Studios, said that the DualShock 4 is only “near the final” product and that there is possible “small tweaks” to be done. But what they showed was a much improved controller. The pad for the PlayStation 3 was hit and miss on certain aspects of it (the damn triggers!) which created a rift between console gamers about which manufacturer’s controller was better for what. My personal preference was the Xbox 360 controller but the PS4 controller looks to have taken on criticisms and I may have to change my mind once I get a hold of it. The controller added in certain features that allowed it to be a serious contender and will force Microsoft into revealing something that may have been rushed to keep up with it. If Microsoft already had a superior controller and were laughing among themselves, showing it at a meeting that has been rushed to combat Sony will give the PlayStation manufacturer the ability to tweak the features to make it even better.
The new games on show looked amazing but most of them were shoe-ins for next-gen titles: Killzone, inFamous, Media Molecule making a new project along with previously announced games Watch Dogs and Destiny. The surprises came from CGI demos and promises of more at E3. This has allowed Sony to woo gamers with promises of great new experiences without showing their whole hand. If Microsoft come out in their announcement being typically gung-ho and forward (like I assume Sony hope they will be), they could show off their hand too early, allowing Sony the upper hand in showing off more amazing experiences, new worlds and interesting characters at E3 safe in the knowledge that Microsoft won’t be able to out-do them as they have so often in the current generation.
Lastly, with the release date and the pricing, Sony will want to wait to see the decisions that the Xbox manufacturer will take. Sony will not rush these crucial details. The PS3 was disadvantaged from the outset because of allowing Microsoft to take a year head start in the war for the then next generation while being priced ridiculously high making it a purely luxurious console and not a practical one. Something to show off to your poor friends and colleagues saying “I have more money than you!” Sony have learned from their mistakes and will wait till after the Xbox to decide the loss that they will make on each console without leaving a major gap in between the two console releases.
Sony have previously admitted they wanted to wait for Microsoft to announce their console first. Kaz Hirai said, “Why go first, when your competitors can look at your specifications and come up with something better?” They then announced the console and released specifications a month later… before the competition. Suspicious?
What do you think, has Sony pulled the wool over our eyes in an attempt to scare Microsoft?