In years gone by, Sony’s annual PlayStation Experience event was little more than a way for the studio to celebrate everything PlayStation with the console’s biggest fans. This year, the event was a declaration of war.
Perhaps someone at Sony had noticed that Microsoft has been winning the hardware battle for the last few months because this year’s PSX was the kind of star-studded showcase of software that is typically reserved for E3. Titles like The Last of Us Part II and Uncharted: The Lost Legacy would have been enough of a statement for Sony in years gone past, but they decided to really put their foot on the gas by unveiling titles such as Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite, Parappa The Rapper HD, and a remake of the Crash Bandicoot trilogy.
The conference was an exhausting flurry of spectacular reveals. When it was over, a clear message had been sent:
“Sony is still all about the games.”
Part of the reason why Sony won over such a large group of gamers with the reveal of the PS4 was because they chose to emphasize games over hardware innovations. This was in stark contrast to the controversial hardware innovations Microsoft attempted to introduce with their original build of the Xbox One.
Preferences aside, the strategy was brilliant. The PlayStation 4 was not only a cheaper system, it was a more familiar one.
Recently, that familiarity has been missing from Sony’s presentations. PlayStation VR went all-in on a technology that not everyone is sold on. The PS4 Pro catered to a specific section of the market who immediately want to take advantage of 4K gaming capabilities. For a good portion of 2016, Sony focused on how their hardware is going to shape the future.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but when you consider that the company hadn’t revealed any major games since E3, it felt as if their focus had changed. Hardware is a necessary part of the industry in terms of both market success and advancing technology, but hardware in console gaming hasn’t sold itself since the PlayStation 2 offered one of the most affordable DVD players in the world.
PSX 2016 flipped the script. Had 2016 ended a week ago, the narrative of 2016 would have been Microsoft’s sales resurgence and Sony’s unsure hardware future. Now, the conversation is solely focused on the games. Whether or not Sony can win the 4K war or convince enough people that VR is worth investing in are still legitimate questions that will be answered in time.
For the moment, however, none of that seems to matter. The only thing that matters is that anyone who owns a Sony console in 2017 will have plenty of games to enjoy.