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Pressers and Postulating - Are Microsoft just Sony's warm-up act?

Matt Gardner
Gamescom 2014, Microsoft, PS4, PS4 games, Sony, Xbox One, Xbox One Games

Pressers and Postulating - Are Microsoft just Sony's warm-up act?

The trend of having a warm-up act is well established. Timing is everything, right? You put on a gig, you want to make sure that the audience is at peak excitement, that their energy and focus levels are high, that they're engaged.

For the past few years, it could be argued that Microsoft have been the warm-up act to Sony when it comes to press conferences. But are the times a-changing this year?

We stated back in June that Microsoft's showing at E3 was the best we'd seen in years -- not that such praise is really saying much, they'd been dire the previous couple of years. But with a renewed focus upon games, with new head honcho Phil Spencer having spent the first couple of months of his tenure aggressively cleaning house and tidying up the muck that Mattrick left behind, Microsoft came out swinging and, admirably, let their games do most of the talking.

Pressers and Postulating - Are Microsoft just Sony's warm-up act?

That'll stand Microsoft in good stead at a show whose motto is "celebrate the games".

It wasn't a vintage press conference, it wasn't one that we'll look back on years from now and still smile at the manner in which Microsoft took our collective breaths away, but it was effective. Light on surprises, yes, but stacked with exclusives and fan favourites, several of which are due before the year is out.

Sony's, by comparison, was a bloated affair that seemingly took cues from Microsoft's previous work. Sprawling and soporific, Sony forgot that games are the most important aspect of any showing. Whether we were sat in the audience or beaming the presser to our screens from houses across the world, we'd turned up to see games, not listen to Shawn "The Godfather" Layden reel off stats for half an hour. Had this actually been a gig, Microsoft would have been the plucky upstarts delivering a tight, aggressive set to get the moshers moving, and Sony would have been prog rock noodling, interrupted occasionally for roadies to come onstage and bumble.

Pressers and Postulating - Are Microsoft just Sony's warm-up act?

EA would have been the gap between the two where everyone goes to take a piss and grab another beer.

In past years, Microsoft have been uneven, EA have been all about quick-fire showings, and Sony have swanned in at the end with a bumper piece of fan service, but as this year's E3 showed, that might not be the case this time around.

For this year's Gamescom, EA seem to have abandoned the plot completely, scurrying off to Wednesday morning to stage their press conference, when everyone out in Cologne will almost certainly already be in meetings. That's okay, though. As much as these gathering are called "press conferences", the realities of modern technology and internet streaming mean that these presentations are now made directly to gamers tuning in from afar. Direct reporting from pressers is now more redundant than ever, and I'll be live-tweeting it from back here in the UK because conference wi-fi is utter arse, and Jon and Carl will be lucky to connect for even a second going by previous experience.

Pressers and Postulating - Are Microsoft just Sony's warm-up act?

The point is that rather than being the bland meat in the MS-Sony sandwich, EA have opted to give themselves a bit more breathing room this year. Not that they have much to show off given the sparse exhibition at E3, although we'll hopefully finally get to learn something tangible about BioWare's new project.

That means Microsoft have the afternoon to themselves, and a full four hours or so before the Sony hype train comes round the mountain. If they can deliver the same sort of bam-Bam-BAM experience that they did at E3, we'll likely come away from their showing breathless and pumped, with the bar having been set high for the second time this year. There's a huge difference between delivering a show that gears us up for the next one, and a show that sets the bar on its own terms. For the first time in years, Microsoft did the latter back in June and, as Jon's already pointed out, they've got the IPs to do the same today.

If Sony were a little conservative at E3 in some ways, remaining coy and keeping schtum on a number of rumoured projects in the pipeline, we expect them to be more forthcoming this year. Moreover, having done the stat dump at E3, it'd be pointless to repeat the same mistake in Cologne. Their show is still looking like a 90-minute proposition, but we expect it to be far more stuffed with gaming content than the one two months ago. Moreover, a healthy Microsoft is good for Sony. Competition is what keeps the platform holders honest (sort of), and we'd like nothing better than for the Big Two to really up the ante and both come out firing on all cylinders for this year's show.

No warm-ups, please. A double-headliner smash from both parties will do just fine for us.

Add a comment4 comments
PhiliKspencer  Aug. 12, 2014 at 11:25

Considering how games take 2+ years to develop, I highly doubt anything MS will show today will be new. Phil Spencer, the messiah, only had three months to work.

Plus, Microsoft hates Europe.

We know Sony's going to show Bloodborne, Until Dawn and several new IP.

Game set and match, Xbot.

Late  Aug. 12, 2014 at 12:39

Theoretically, focussing mainly on the non-gaming stuff at E3 and leaving most of the game reveals for Gamescom makes sense in terms of what the conferences are aimed at. So long as they actually have some gaming stuff to show off, come August.

It's just unfortunate (and inevitable) that E3 gets most of the world's attention - which left Sony's presentation looking rather limp. Sony in 2014 did the same thing Microsoft did in 2013. (Not sure how they managed to do that, though. They looked at Microsoft's massive success in 2013 and thought "we'll follow suit!"?)

That said, though, I don't expect much from either company in terms of announcing new games, this week - especially new games that we'll see any time soon.
I see Gamescom as more of an opportunity to show off what we already knew was coming, and as such I think I personally will get more from hearing Jon & Carl's experiences trying out demos/betas etc. than I will from hearing Sony & Microsoft telling us what games they've got planned.

That said, I'll still be keen to see what both companies are announcing. And not just because of Aoife. (Partly, though.)

LOLatButthurt  Aug. 13, 2014 at 11:21

LOL, even more $0N¥ PauperStation desperation. Delicious!

lolsdvfsdfsd  Aug. 18, 2014 at 15:32

Stop spreading fanboy lies, FUD, and hatred and get help.

You are sick in the head and constantly lie to fuel your mentally ill hatred of a piece of plastic. It's not healthy to hate pieces of plastic and people who like playing video games on them.

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