E3 is almost here – we are just a month away from it – and at this point, I don’t think there is anybody who doesn’t expect Sony to have a fantastic conference (I will refrain from indulging in the common parlance of ‘winning’ E3). After all, when was the last time that Sony didn’t do well at the show? It’s been years since they had a bad conference, and they have managed to find a winning formula that they have steadfastly stuck to over the last few years to great success.
However, E3, which should be a time of celebration of the medium by all of its fans, often becomes a time of hostility and antagonism- suggest, for instance, even for a moment, that Microsoft or Nintendo might have good E3 shows this year, too, and fangs will be bared right away.
This defies logic – let me first get out of the way that Microsoft, who have a new console coming out later in the year, and Nintendo, who just had one launch to great success, and probably want to maintain momentum for it, are bound to have great E3 shows by definition – after all, E3 is not a zero sum game. In fact, it seems as though Sony fans (and all gaming fans in general, but due to there being the most number of Sony fans at the moment, they stand out as the most vocal) have almost forgotten that E3 is additive. Competition is good for the industry, after all- and Microsoft and Nintendo doing well can only mean good things for PlayStation too, because if Sony feels threatened, it puts its best foot forward to hold on to its top spot.
“Competition is good for the industry, after all- and Microsoft and Nintendo doing well can only mean good things for PlayStation too, because if Sony feels threatened, it puts its best foot forward to hold on to its top spot.”
But wait, I hear many say. Sony is doing fantastically well now– and right now, they have no meaningful competition. The Xbox One is floundering, and the Switch is too new to be a threat. So clearly, the notion that Sony needs competition to put its best foot forward is a false one, right?
Wrong. The PS4, as it is awesome right now, is awesome as a result of moves set in motion 3 or more years ago, when it did face a credible threat from Xbox, and when Sony was trying its best to crush all opposition from Xbox. Games like Horizon or Uncharted were greenlit years ago, when the PS4 faced a very real threat of competition, and did not spontaneously sprig into existence in 2016 and 2017, when it did not. Then, too, consider the PS4’s current hardware- it is a result of Sony getting their ass handed to them with the PS3 and deciding they want to make something simple, easy, powerful, and developer friendly with the PS4, which has led to widespread indie support for it, as well as support en masse from developers around the world. The reason there are as many great games for the PS4 right now as there are is because of how easy it is to work with- and the only reason it is easy to work with is because of the Xbox 360 doing so well, and beating the PS3 for a good long while last generation, and Sony seeing its hard earned cachet with developers degrade as they all fled to support the Xbox first and foremost.
Making a developer friendly console was not the only thing that Sony, who had been making increasingly complex machines until then, learned from Xbox, however. Sony’s developer friendly policies come after they saw Microsoft eat their lunch with their outreach to developers around the world with the Xbox 360, especially with their at the time progressive policies with smaller, indie developers. Let’s also consider the question of Japan- this year specifically, the PS4 has done as great as it has because of its Japanese support, which, again, is a result of Sony’s desperate attempts to court Japanese developers and publishers to them, after the 3DS entirely trounced the Vita, and claimed the entire Japanese development community for itself.
“The PS2 being as fantastic as it was back in the day owed itself to its extremely strong momentum that put it in an unassailable position before the Xbox and Gamecube even launched- and it got into that position because Sony acted aggressively, working to dismantle the Dreamcast.”
The PS2 being as fantastic as it was back in the day owed itself to its extremely strong momentum that put it in an unassailable position before the Xbox and Gamecube even launched- and it got into that position because Sony acted aggressively, working to dismantle the Dreamcast, its competition, before the Dreamcast could even become anything resembling a viable competitor.
Plus, precedence has shown us that when Sony acts without much in the way of competition, it makes bad moves, bad for itself, and bad for its own fans- consider the PS3, which came after years of dominance with the PS2, or the PS Vita, which came after the PSP had enjoyed premier system status in Japan for years. Both were mishandled, poorly priced systems, and both ended up never quite living up to their predecessors.
Even now, Sony’s present day decisions, made without the context of years-old competition, aren’t necessarily the best. They won’t allow full modding support on their system. They won’t allow services like EA Access on their system. They will increase the price of PS Plus without any explanation, simply because they can. They will cut corners on their new system by not adding features that their cheaper competition is offering. They will not allow cross platform play after years of saying that they would if only their competition would- and their competition now does.
“Sony fans are fans of gaming, and gaming fans should want the entire industry to do well. If all platforms thrive, there are more great games for everyone, and that is in the best interests of the industry.”
So the idea that Sony does well even in the absence of competition is a fallacious one. It needs competition to keep it in check, just like Microsoft and Nintendo need competition to keep them in check (and this, in fact, is one of the underlying principles, and the best thing, about having a free market). There is also the fact that, on a specific level, even if Sony isn’t going to consider Microsoft and Nintendo a threat, the simple fact of the matter remains that Microsoft and Nintendo, in an attempt to catch up with Sony, are going to put their best foot forward, and come on board with great features, functionality, and games- things that, if they do well enough, will cause Sony to adopt them for their system too. Sony are, after all, a business trying to maximize their bottom line. See also- something as simple as external HDD support for PS4, three years after Xbox One and Wii U both already offered it, to great fan reception.
And all of this is without considering the larger philosophical argument that as fans of games and gaming, we should all just be happy when the medium, and all major players within it, do well. After all, Sony fans are fans of gaming, and gaming fans should want the entire industry to do well. If all platforms thrive, there are more great games for everyone, and that is in the best interests of the industry. Personally, as much as I feel that PlayStation’s dominance may objectively be the best thing for the industry, I do want Nintendo and Microsoft to do well, too- and I hope we get to see some of that at E3 this year.
Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to GamingBolt as an organization.