How E3 Has Torn My Loyalties

Everyone's talking about E3 so, well... here's what I really took from the events that occurred.
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E3 this year was a turning point for some publishers. Nintendo’s fans are actually excited instead of depressed, Sony fans are excited for new exclusives like Bloodborne, but the real surprise for me was Microsoft. I’ve never really been attracted to Microsoft consoles, other than the offer of finally completing Halo. On PC, we’re still stuck at Halo 2‘s cliffhanger. It’s like ending at The Empire Strikes Back if you watch the movies on DVD and no Return of the Jedi unless you watch on VHS. VHS is fine but it has it’s own problems and personally doesn’t offer the experience I want.

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That statement rings true for almost everything with Microsoft’s games and consoles. They’ve offered some interesting things, but never the stuff I actually wanted enough to tempt me over to their side. Gears of War never hooked me, and I only learned about other exclusives on the console only in the past three years or so. Xbox Live Gold also was a major turn off when deciding whether to go with Xbox 360 or PS3 back in the day. I had the choice of one or the other due to my economic circumstances.

And I’m still happy with my choice. Save for the Nintendo Wii, the PS3 was my first real gaming console. I enjoyed the hell out of Killzone 3, Ratchet & Clank, and plenty of multi-platform games that my PC originally couldn’t handle. I had enough investment in Sony IPs that I pretty much automatically expected to be rooting for the PS4 as my cheaper alternative over having to upgrade my PC again. The initial run was how we all remember it — the Xbox One flopped, Microsoft had a horrible time getting their message across, and Sony soared in sales, millions of units ahead.

For reference of sheer green-itude, here’s last year’s conference.

Then E3 2014 happened. I thought I was all prepared for it, Spike TV’s stream going, processing all the various nuggets of real information hidden amongst the early show hype. My brain skipped a beat when the Microsoft conference began. Somehow, over the course of revealing such games as Sunset Overdrive, Forza Horizon 2, Ori, Fable Legends, and Halo: Master Chief Collection, I started feeling a different tune in my head. Despite my still loving what was revealed at the Sony Conference, something happened during the Xbox One’s big upheaval of games.

I felt my loyalties shift back to the way they were years ago, when I had a choice between two platforms. I didn’t listen to what was popular, I didn’t go with the system all my friends online had. In fact, most of my time on PS3, despite being a HUGE fan of multiplayer gaming, I had to lone wolf it because most of my friends stuck to 360, even when they had a PS3. I went with my money and my gut, and realistically that should point me to the PS4. Most of my friends are getting PS4s, especially those who are likewise limited to a single console purchase.

So why is it I suddenly feel tempted towards the platform that, until E3 2014, I considered a joke? I’m not saying that as a rhetorical question, I mean that as a genuine thing I’ve been pondering for a few weeks now, off and on. Everyone’s talking about E3, some going so far as to imply one or another console manufacturer “won E3.” I’ve had little to say other than this. Honestly, the upcoming games look promising. I hope they turn out well, and I hope Uncharted 4 is the last time I ever have to see Nathan Drake starring in a video game.

If you look closely, you can see the Xbox logo devouring Phil Spencer.

The part that bugs me about this is simply that I can’t figure out what moment it was that this all just sort of clicked in my head. Much like how I recently started trying to figure out about the seemingly terrified (at losing) playerbase of Pixel Junk Shooter Ultimate, this is the sort of thing I just keep trying to crack so I can write up something about it. I still haven’t cracked either one yet, but still I feel it’s a talking point worth noting because from what I gather, I’m not the only person who felt this way.

It’s not that Microsoft had Phil Spencer saying “games” more times than any other press event in the history of this industry, it’s something else. It feels like Microsoft has finally started figuring out what it wants the Xbox One to be, in at least a general sense after its initial idea failed.

They’re moving towards it being this indie development platform. After really losing out to indie developers heading over to Sony and Steam, their actually putting effort into winning developers back. We’re seeing the games finally come to it. They’re making new games, they’re snagging excellent exclusives from third party devs, and above all else, they seem to be trying to be the platform everyone swore to me the 360 was. It’s a platform for multiplayer games, it’s a platform for action games, it’s a platform for some great looking indies, and it’s now trying harder to be more than that.

They know they screwed up, they know they did badly, and they seem to be trying to learn; and unlike EA, their current actions are paying off. Sure they still threw in plenty of CGI trailers and proof of concept-ish looking demos for certain titles (Fable: Legends, Crackdown 3, I am looking at you), but that’s sadly pretty standard now.

In case you were feeling lonely, here’s some more green!

So, did anyone “win” E3? Not in my opinion. But for the first time in years, Microsoft has me wondering. Does that mean I plan to get an Xbox One? I’m torn, pretty evenly. Sony still offers a distinctly numerous amount of IPs I care about on a platform my friends will be on. That said, Microsoft’s offering enough for now to be a worthwhile contender for my final HDMI port.

That’s all I really have to discuss about E3. Carry on, but do take a moment to leave a comment below if you have the time!

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Elijah Beahm
Grumpily ranting at this computer screen since before you were playing Minecraft. For more of my work: