Sony is a company that elicits very strong reaction from gamers. When the PlayStation brand is doing well and their communication is on point we get to see plenty of great games, passionate presenters and third-party companies embracing the platform. But Sony has also been guilty of, in the past, becoming a complacent and even arrogant company when the PlayStation name is on top of the world. What we saw at E3 2017 definitely had shades of the Sony we saw 10 years ago and that’s very worrying for a beloved company that seems to create its own PR disasters with alarming frequency.
Let me get this rant started by looking at the games that Sony brought to E3 2017. Many of the games shown off looked excellent (except Days Gone – that looks bad) however we were missing that big, new title to get people excited. In fact most of the games shown were things we already knew about like Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, God of War, Call of Duty: WWII and Spider-Man with the only big surprises being the announcement of Monster Hunter World and a remaster of Shadow of the Colossus. Now while each of those games look amazing, E3 is all about showing off what’s big and upcoming, not what we already know is on its way. But that isn’t reason enough alone for me to have felt slighted by Sony’s conference, no my big reason is how impersonal the entire conference felt.
Sony’s conference was basically a video reel of game, after game… after game, which as a fan is probably all you would want from an E3 conference, but the way Sony presented it seemed lazy, slapped together and dismissive. It was as if they turned on a YouTube playlist and left the room for us to be entertain ourselves for about two hours. We didn’t even get extra details about the games being shown, just a ‘figure it out yourself’ attitude. Attendees at the conference itself reported that it was visually arresting and interesting but for the audience at home it seemed disjointed and unfocused, especially when you compared it to every other press conference and the passion those companies showed for their projects and most importantly their fans.
Now, every company has bad E3 presentations now and again and Sony’s this yer was, on its own, not that bad. The content was solid, the games looked great and if you already own a PlayStation 4 then you’ll likely be very happy with your console. But Sony’s been down this road before, namely when transitioning from the PlayStation 2 and PlayStation 3 and how their messaging and PR went from a ‘gamer’s company’ to pure arrogance. And while Sony’s E3 2017 press conference wasn’t ‘arrogant’ per say it does have shades of when they would take their position as market leader for granted and treat their fans like wallets instead of gamers with the power to get their game on somewhere else.
I love it when Sony does well at E3, their press conferences are typically full of unbelievably great game announcements that leave fans talking for months to come but this year? Not so much. Sony’s press conference reeked of a pompous air that seemed to take their audience for granted – the very same audience that gave them a second chance after the PlayStation 3’s failed launch and help catapult the PS4 to first place in the current console market. Hopefully this was a one-off and next year’s show will see Sony back to their old selves blowing us away with great game announcements and actually engaging with their audience.