Surprisingly, Sony will be skipping E3 2019. This move, however, might’ve been expected due to the cancellation of PSX this year after a marginal showing at E3. This year has shown a number of instances where Sony has made software announcements via social media, so a no-show at E3 shouldn’t impact their lead this console generation as long as they continue to be transparent. All of this should be viewed as opportunity for Microsoft to promote their upcoming software and hardware, which should be beneficial due to the Xbox One’s disappointing performance.
Let’s be clear, the past few years haven’t trended in Microsoft’s favor. The lack of true console exclusives and subpar E3 presentations has taken a toll on the Xbox brand. In 2018, Forza Horizon 4 and Sea of Thieves are the only titles of note to release for the console. It should be noted that both are available via the PC, so once again they aren’t true exclusives. Sony and Nintendo on the other hand, have release multiple exclusives in the same time frame and will be well represented at the upcoming Game Awards.
While this is disappointing, Microsoft has made a number of key announcements this year that should see some positive traction moving forward. The introduction of the Xbox Game Pass and the acquisition of multiple studios show that they are well aware of their deficiencies and actively prepping for the future. These announcements were met with a positive reception and should help toward rebuilding their brand. While E3 2018 was a positive experience for Microsoft, it was also slightly disappointing due to the number of third-party titles that will be appearing on other consoles.
Microsoft needs to have a killer conference in 2019. The fact that Sony cancelled would indicate their confidence moving forward. It’s a bold move but one that will allow Microsoft ample time to showcase future plans. A positive conference that introduces new exclusives and release dates for anticipated titles would be a big win. There are rumors that an announcement of a new console will be made, in two different iterations no less, but this feels like a desperate move that could backfire because there are no pertinent details. A new pricey console release shortly after the Xbox One may bring further frustration to a starved fan base.
Will any of this come to fruition? Possibly, as Sony showed its hand and now it’s time for Microsoft to plan a measured response. Failure to do so would be catastrophic for their Xbox brand and it would indicate that all of these studio acquisitions were for nothing. If Microsoft wants to regain the lead in the next generation, they need to listen to consumers and deliver a reason to own their consoles. Gears, Halo, and Forza cannot continue to carry Xbox, especially considering the sheer number of franchises on Sony and Nintendo.
2019 is shaping up to be another big year in gaming. For Microsoft, it’s time to capitalize on the positive momentum they generated this year. It may have been light in the software department, but it was heavy in all other areas. Time will tell, but things do look hopeful moving forward.