Back in November of last year, it was revealed that Sony would be skipping E3 2019. A few days ago, Sony’s Shawn Layden (SIE Worldwide Chairman) sat down with CNET to explain why Sony will be skipping the event this year, meaning there will be no PlayStation presence for the first time in E3’s 24-year history. He went on to say “The world has changed, but E3 hasn’t necessarily changed with it”. He goes on to explain that with the way Sony run their business, announcing video games in June doesn’t really fit their business model any more. He clearly sees this as a positive step for Sony but I’m here to question that.
I think the most obvious loss is to E3 themselves. With the likes of Nintendo no longer running press conferences and EA choosing to run their own event near by, it feels like E3 is getting smaller and smaller. For E3 and the fans that turn up every year this can only be seen as a bad thing. As for Sony, is it too risky letting Microsoft take their Xbox conference completely unopposed? I suppose that depends on Sony’s plans going forward.
So what’s next? Well all signs point toward Sony’s own event; Destination PlayStation as a potential event to make some announcements. The main problem with Destination PlayStation is that in the past, it has primarily been retailer focused and chances are we as fans may not hear any major announcements. So the smart money would be on Sony to run some sort of media event after E3 featuring all their big announcements… But what if they have nothing to announce?
The first thing most people said when Sony announced they were skipping E3 was that this is all about the PS5 and that they will have their own event to announce the new console. This is all speculation though and there is every chance that Sony will not be revealing a new console this year and it could be as simple as they just have nothing to announce… Whether it is this year or next, the PS5 is surely just around the corner so the PS4 must definitely be towards the end of its life cycle, so is it possible that this is the reason Sony is skipping E3? If this is the case then I think it is quite smart on their part as they will avoid backlash for a lacklustre press conference.
Though if we was to work off the assumption that both Sony and Microsoft have new console announcements this summer, is it still a smart move? In my opinion, no. We as gamers have become accustomed to getting ourselves hyped for that early June period, and even with Playstation’s absence, you can be sure the gaming world will still have its eyes squarely fixed towards the news coming out of E3 as that is our nature. If Microsoft are smart (And they are) then they will take advantage of this.
We all remember how the last console announcements went down, Microsoft took a massive hit as Sony aggressively focused its PS4 marketing ‘for the players’ while the Xbox One was left to look like an overpriced entertainment system. I have no doubt that Microsoft will want to avoid a repeat of this and what better way than making E3 their own? Having unrivalled attention across the whole of E3 weekend would be nothing short of incredible for them.
Sony would have to be very careful because if they were to leave it, lets say a month after E3 to make their PS5 announcement then that is a long time in today’s modern world and a long time for PlayStation owners to consider a move to the green side if Microsoft were to have a successful Xbox announcement. The other side to that though, is that Sony could beat them to the punch. There is nothing stopping Sony from putting on a press conference themselves weeks before E3 and stealing all the thunder with a big next gen announcement. It just comes down to whether or not they are in a place to start making announcements regarding their next console.
No matter what the future holds, I still feel its the fans that suffer. The hardcore gamers and journalists that attend E3 every year will be missing a big part of that now. Everyone who follows along with E3 from home will not get the drama of Sony and Microsoft going head to head on the same weekend as they both fight for your custom. Whether or not it becomes clear that this was a smart move for Sony is yet to be seen but speaking from a fans stand point, I feel the negatives outweigh the positives.