E3 2013: Has the 3rd Console Curse Hit Microsoft?

e3This post started of initially as a comment in E3 2013: The Big Winners and Losers post but as it grew I thought I’d make it a post in its own right. This was without doubt the biggest E3 since the PS3 and Xbox 360 were unveiled several years ago and possible the most direct head on battle between Sony and Microsoft since MS joined the console  gaming industry.The E3 2013: The Big Winners and Losers post says that Sony blew Microsoft out the water which I  disagree with . The term blew Microsoft clean out the water doesn’t accurately convey it all for me. I’ll start of by saying I’m a PS3 and Xbox 360 owner  and my level of gaming probable comes out at 60%-40% in favour on my 360 while surprisingly my level of media/entertainment use comes out 70% -30% in favour of the PS3 as it use it to watch blu-ray, Netflix and Lovefilm but use my 360 to watch Sky which is a useful thing for me when my Sky box is tied up recording 2 different shows and I want to catch a live  football game or a 3rd different show.

Anyway back to the post.

3rd Console Curse

There is something in the console industry called the 3rd console curse. This is the fact all the major console manufactures have experience major issues with the 3rd generation console. Sega’s Dreamcast was such a disaster they pulled out of the hardware market. Nintendo’s N64 met a juggernaut called the PS One that relegated it to a mere bystander in that generation and the PS3 was initially plague with issues. The price was deemed to much with poor early sales and the Cell processors described as overly complicated to develop for causing many multi-platform games to look and play better on the 360. It took a very quick PS3 redesign stripping out many feature of the original and lowering the price before sales started to increase.

Dreamcast

Now its seems the Xbox One is falling foul to the curse with all the controversy it has received since the initially unveiling last month. For me Microsoft’s biggest problem is the DRM and used games fiasco.

Games at E3

Prior to E3 MS was taking a lot of flack for its lack of games revealed. It had always said that it would save the games till E3 but that did not stop the fanboy and media outcry that it wasn’t a gaming system like the PS4. Come to E3 and if we compare both events purely on the games announced, games exclusives and games demoed, it can be argued that Microsoft came out on top showing more exclusives titles and games overall and announcing Xbox Gold members will now get 2 games every month to keep as part of their subscription.

Price

They price is as much as the PS3 on launch which was controversial but as much as I think that should have come in at £399 in the UK you have to consider you get a Kinect 2.0 which the original Kinect cost £129 that actually brings the console in at £300. You can argue if the Kinect should be bundle in our not but like with bundling in a headset with the 360, it means at least developers know everyone will have one allowing for decent Kinect integration. The bottle line is that consumers will only see the price and at £349 vs £429 that a win for Sony

DRM/Used games

Microsoft have shot themselves in the foot. The DRM and 2nd hand issues are much bigger issues for consumers than they must have thought and their PR handling of it had been a disaster. A Month into the unveiling and with E3 finished people are still confused over it, they have said some seriously stupid things like one Exec said if people did not have an internet connection Microsoft has a console they can play called the 360….WHAT!! If people don’t have an internet connection they will buy a PS4 and rightly so. Why buy a last gen console….arrogance or amazing stupidity from Microsoft.

Also I am a strong advocate of if I pay money for something and it’s mine I can do what I like with it. I’ve often given old games out to family members or traded them in. My little nephew shouldn’t have problems playing a game I’ve given him.

Sony also did a great job underplaying new policies that may previously have caught the headlines if not for the Microsoft controversy. Like with Xbox Live Gold, PS4 owners will need to subscribe to  PS+ to be able to play multiplayer games and also just like like Microsoft, Sony is allowing Publisher the discretion on implement programmes with retailers that could lead to fees for trading in games. Sony’s big win is the lack on always on DRM and no limits the the umber of times games can be loaned or or traded. Thier video on how to trade games was marketing genius.

How to lend games

Winners and losers

So for me who won the E3. Sony won E3 but not on what most people thought prior to the event…on Games and being the ultimatum gaming console, but on  3 main things. A great price for the PS4, no DRM restriction for the console and a clearer message on 2nd hand and loaning games.

Prior to E3 Gamestop, Amazon and Blockbusters announced that were receiving more pre-orders for the Xbox One than PS4. This weeks all have announced that PS4 pre-orders have now outstripped Xbox One pre-orders. That’s a very strong message to Microsoft.

With both systems due to launch virtually at the same time there will be no one year head start for Microsoft, and with the lack of adoption of the 360 in Japan this generation, it is likely that the Xbox One will suffer the same thing so basically Microsoft will have 2 of the 3 big gaming markets (Europe, North America) to fight Sony. I doubt that Xbox One will maintain the sales lead that Xbox 360 has the generation.

A review of both press conference by the Computer and Video Games journalist but it best for me. It you take the analogy that this was a boxing fight, based on just the press events, Microsoft was wining on points going into the later rounds but a fantastic 3 hit combo from Sony late in the fight (Price, DRM, 2nd hand games) KO’d Microsoft.

Sega’s 3rd console curse was down to bad luck and timing, Nintendo’s was down to an amazing new PSOne console that came out of nowhere, but like with Sony with the initial launch of the PS3, Microsoft’s possible 3rd console curse is totally self inflicted.  MS have until November to rectify this with a possible change in the price, removal of the DRM etc but somehow I just don’t think they will as they are pinning their success on the all in one entertainment system being a hit with the mass market

My Choice

So come Christmas do I trade in my PS3 for a PS4 or trade in my Xbox 360 for an Xbox One. Well truth be known I’m most likely going to wait until 2014 before I get one of the new consoles and I want to see what new developments happen between now and launch. If you put a gun to my head and forced me to chose, then the used games issue is a deal breaker for me  on principles. I can deal with the higher price, the always on internet is an issue but honestly won’t effect me personally.

So I guess I’d go with the PS4 as I can still get Sky on my 360.

Reporter: Soulfinger

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