A week ago, the revelations at E3 made it seem like the Xbox One had been KOed by the PlayStation 4 before the next-gen bout had even started. But earlier this week, Microsoft managed to get itself "off the ropes" by making two major announcements: The Xbox One will not require an online connection every 24 hours (a relief for submarine residents), and gamers can "trade-in, lend, resell, gift, and rent disc-based games just like you do today."
Until Wednesday, it wasn't a stretch to say that Sony had already swept its competition. Now it looks like the next-gen showdown could be a proper series after all. These are some of the factors that forced Microsoft's hand.
5. Late Night with Jimmy Fallon's Error
Today marks the end of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon's "Video Game Week." During his hands-on demo of the PlayStation 4 last night, Fallon misspoke about the system being "the only one where you can still play used games."
Xbox One can, in fact, play used games, but before Wednesday's announcements there were more restrictions – such as the fact that "you can only give (discs) to people who have been on your friends list for at least 30 days and each game can only be given once." (Read it all here.)
4. Sony Went Viral
At E3, Sony made some appealing announcements about the PS4: It will cost $399, $100 less than the Xbox One and won’t require online check-ins every 24 hours. We've also learned that Sony’s policy on used games is more consumer friendly. To better explain its position on what is an increasingly important feature, Sony released a video that describes how it plans to treat disc-based used games:
In short, first-party, disc-based games can be traded and shared without restrictions. When it comes to third-party games, however, Sony has been fuzzy. Still, that video dumptrucked additional salt into Microsoft’s wounds. To be fair, it’s looking like publishers – including EA – could also face some tough decisions about business models for online play and used games for either console. We'll see how they react in light of Microsoft's announcements.
3. Sony was More Accessible
In the wake of Monday’s excitement, Sony execs did loads of interviews. These only added to its momentum. Microsoft, meanwhile, had already cancelled most of its press ops, although Microsoft’s president of interactive entertainment business, Don Mattrick, did participate in an interview with Geoff Keighley. Sure, Microsoft and Major Nelson were blogging regularly at E3, but Sony was doing the same on the PlayStation Blog, and on top of that, it was staying busy on PlayStation’s official YouTube channel.
2. The Internet Ganged Up on Microsoft
GIFs, Vines and YouTube parodies began kicking Microsoft while it was down.
Contributing to the vigorous denigration was lingering anger about a rape joke that was made at Microsoft’s press conference:
As a result of all of this …
1. Sony Got Loads of Positive Press
Last week, sites like Kotaku, Gaming Blend, GameSpot were all about Sony; Joystiq even had a PlayStation-sponsored page. These popular gaming sites weren’t exclusively covering Sony, but their coverage was overwhelming positive about PS4, and they were fair in asking for clarification on its policies on used games. We'll have to see what kind of press Microsoft get with its second wind.