E3: Sony scores points over Microsoft with new console launch
In the eternal battle of the videogame giants, Sony has scored an important PR victory over Microsoft as the pair go head to head over their new consoles.
Within hours of Microsoft's press conference in Los Angeles showcasing games for its new Xbox One system, Sony set out its stall for its PlayStation 4.
But it had two important aces up its sleeve that could prove crucial in its tussle for supremacy with Microsoft in the €40bn-a-year games industry.
Having noticed the internet's metaphorical intake of breath over the announcement of Xbox One's pricing at €500, Sony Computer Entertainment president Andrew House revealed the PS4 would undercut its rival by €100 when it hits the shelves just before the Christmas buying season, just like its rival.
Sony was no doubt mindful of its botched PS3 launch in 2007, with the console pitched at a lofty €600 that forced it into years of catch-up with Microsoft's Xbox.
"This is a completely new platform and, in many ways, represents a completely new PlayStation," Mr House said yesterday.
However, the second ace in Sony's pocket demonstrates the Japanese giant is keeping one foot in the past with an eye to hurting Microsoft and courting gamers.
Microsoft has come under fire for its complex new policies that will greatly restrict how old games are passed on or sold once the purchaser has finished with them.
Games bought for new Xbox One can be traded in only at certain retailers, if permitted at all. Further, games can only be given away once – but only to "friends". The console must also connect to the Net to check in with Microsoft once a day – no connection equals no gaming.
Sony has made hay of this confusion and promised yesterday that it would stick to the old system of freely allowing trade-ins and would not require regular check-ins.
With an online backlash growing, Microsoft may yet reconsider its proposals.
But, as always, these early skirmishes in the latest videogame wars may turn out to be meaningless. The range and popularity of the titles exclusive to each console should play the decisive role, with Sony and Microsoft both promising games in their hundreds.