We’re discovering that most of the excitement out here in LA for the annual E3 video game convention happens well before the doors even open to the gaming convention’s main show floor. The major players that are here tend to hold their major unveil press conferences and parties in the days prior to the official start to E3—a pattern that we’ve become familiar with as we cover other consumer tech shows.
In following along with the major announcements that’ve come out of the three big press conferences, it’s clear that this year has a heavy focus on continuing the software push. We’re still a handful of years from the start of the next console lifecycle, so Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo are trying to milk their current-pen machines for everything they’re worth. And that’s not a bad play on their part, considering these are by and large some of the most successful machines that they’ve ever launched.
But in this software-heavy season of gaming, the news out of Microsoft’s camp may have the most significant impact on the gaming market in general moving forward. During its Sunday evening press conference here, the company announced that it was purchasing four video game studios and launching its own studio. The move, while not as flashy as, say, the Super Smash Brothers preview by Nintendo or Sony’s The Last of Us Part II unveil, still carries significant weight.
What Microsoft did in its announcement is prove to the industry that it’s willing to invest heavily in video gaming, and it’s finally addressing what’s long been considered the biggest hurdle the company has had to overcome in order to bee more competitive—it’s lack of exclusive titles.
A Gizmodo breakdown from earlier this year showed in a side-by-side comparison just how uneven the race was between Sony and Microsoft to produce exclusive titles. Out of 1,385 total games on the platform, 10.11 percent were exclusive to the PS4. For Microsoft, of its 955 titles, just 4.29 percent were exclusive. The significance here is that, with more exclusive titles to its name, Sony has been able to drive the better bargain when it comes to attracting gamers who might be on the fence in deciding between the two consoles. Microsoft has just lacked ability to leverage a strong catalog of Xbox-only titles to sway consumers in their direction.
That’s something they’re looking to correct, and they’re statement at E3 proves that in the clearest way possible.