Why the Sony E3 Announcement Was Such a Big Deal

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There was huge pressure on Sony for their upcoming next gen console, the Playstation 4, to exceed everyone’s expectations since they had a lot to prove after Microsoft was able to catch up to them this generation with their Xbox 360. Today on E3, which is the biggest electronics and gaming expo in the world, Sony stepped into their conference, brought their guns and wiped the floor with Microsoft. PS4 will support used games. Why was this so important?

Flashback a few years back: Sony came off their dominant performance from the Playstation 2 era as king of the hill seeming like no one could beat them. Then they announce the Playstation 3 at E3 2006 for $600. They were cocky and even said that “You will be willing to get a second job just to be able to buy a PS3”. Not very many people bought into that idea. At the same time, Microsoft had a plan by coming out a year earlier with a better online experience. The result was that Microsoft sold that much more XB360 units and had better partnerships with third parties. Something that Sony did very well in the PS2 generation. It took a few years before Sony finally caught up in worldwide sales for the PS3. But by then, it was not really able to establish a firm foothold this generation.

Now comes 2013. One of the big issues that publishers and system manufacturers faced was used game sales. When you buy a new game from a shop, the game maker and console manufacturer get a certain portion of that in the form of sales. When you buy a used game, they do not get any part of that at all. The profits go directly to the original owner of the game. It’s the same principle when you lend a game to someone else. Instead of selling 2 or more copies, the publisher only counts 1 sale. There were several measures done this generation to combat that in the form of online passes (codes that came with a game that you redeem online so you can play online) which the second user wouldn’t have access to.

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Microsoft came up with the idea of building their upcoming console, the Xbox One, with this in mind. They announced it last week and essentially it meant that you couldn’t lend your games to anyone else (even if it was a disc-based game). The box also requires you to be online at least once every 24 hours so that it can authenticate and make sure that you are not doing anything funny (illegal). If you fail to do this, the box locks up and you can’t access any of your games. This caused a huge uproar in the gaming community since that meant that if for some reason you brought your machine to a place without internet, or you lose connection for a day, your box was as good as paperweight. Or worse, not being able to play in the middle because you lost your internet connection.

Sony came to E3, announced awesome games, and waited until near the end of the conference to make this announcement. PS4 will support used games. PS4 does not need an online connection. The games you buy are yours forever. These announcements were heard all over the world and people went nuts after it. These were huge daggers stuck into Microsoft’s heart which I’m not really sure how they will recover from as there is no way they will be backtracking from what they already announced.

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Lastly, earlier today, Microsoft announced their Xbox One for $500 which people were quite lukewarm on. Sony waited for the last part of their conference and announced a $399 PS4. Boom. Why was it big? It’s because the next generation console battle might already be over even before it starts. It’s now Microsoft’s move. Can Sony keep up this momentum?

Just in case it’s not clear, Sony president Shu Yoshida teaches you how the PS4 handles used games.

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