News Article

Microsoft's Messaging Mishaps Prompted PS4 Boss to Re-Write E3 Script

Posted by Sammy Barker

The rest is history

Remember when Jack Tretton laid the figurative smackdown during Sony’s E3 press conference a couple of years ago? That wasn’t originally planned. Despite speculation at the time, Sony never intended to mirror Microsoft’s abhorrent Xbox One digital-rights management policies – but seeing the backlash pointed at its nearest competitor forced it to make its message crystal clear.

“I remember reading an article literally the weekend before E3 that was basically saying that this is the direction Microsoft was taking and that it was only a matter of time before Sony adopts the same approach,” said group president Andrew House at the Develop 2014 conference in Brighton earlier today. “That sort of put me on the back foot, and I went and re-wrote portions of my E3 presentation script that weekend.”

House stressed that this was never a change in strategy, just a case of the company ensuring that it effectively communicated with customers its own personal stance. “All it did was make us come out and state very clearly that the status quo has been good to us; consumers like the choice, and the balance that that achieves,” he said. "It wasn't a shift in strategy, it was just a feeling of a necessity to go out and communicate something that we just took advantage of.”

And take advantage the firm did, as the overwhelming sentiment coming out of that year’s E3 was that Sony won the event hands down. Microsoft eventually changed its policies, but it’s still struggling to shake the stigma of the mishap – and that’s allowed the Japanese giant to build up an early install base lead around the world. You can relive the magic moment below – it truly never gets old.


User Comments (19)



Tasuki said:

Honestly it doesn't surprise me that he rewrote the scripted after MS revealed all their BS. Honestly it was a really smart business move. It showed that Sony does listen to its fans (as well as the MS fans that weren't pleased with the original always online no sharing games announcement) and it saved the industry. Not only that but how many people like me after that announcement went out and preordered the PS4.

Very very smart indeed.



eaglebob345 said:

After mandating PS Plus and PS Now's existance, I doubt that Sony didn't have a similar setup as Microsoft. The world may never know the whole truth, just what they want to tell us. It goes right into my book of doubts, right next to every third party company that claimed they would fully support the Wii U, Nintendo for saying that those third parties were going to support the Wii U, and my doubt that Microsoft will ever shelve their DRM practices completely.



get2sammyb said:

@eaglebob345 I'm not saying that you're wrong — we'll never know — but policies like this don't get changed the weekend prior to a press conference. Scripts? Yes. Business strategies? No.

Of course, it's possible that House may be making this all up, but I don't think we have any real reason to disbelieve him completely.



Tasuki said:

@eaglebob345: That's one of the reason I am still hesitant to get an Xbox One. Alot of MS fanboys keeping going on and on like MS abandoned their DRM and Online policy but they just patched it. The coding for that stuff still exists in the OS somewhere. So what's to say that in a few years they don't change their minds again and release another patch to reinstate those policies?



Reverend_Skeeve said:

@eaglebob345 Well there is a Sony patent going around for branding game discs/connecting them to a gamer-profile with the first install, so Sony at least explored the technical possibilities of Microsofts original policies.

And seeing how Sony does have a history of bs-ing and disrespecting their customers (see the time after PS3s launch), I find it absolutely plausible that Sony may have planed something similar initially. This stuff doesn't get changed over night and anyway, we will never know for sure, but still...

In the end, I am just glad that Sony saw reason, for whatever reason at all, and decided to go the way they did.

@Tasuki Since Sony has the tech as well, they might do the very same thing sometimes down the road. I think its highly unlikely they'd do so, but who knows. After all, they where mocking Microsoft for the lack of backwards-compatibility of the Xbox 360 back then and outright gloating...only to remove the feature from the PS3 as well only a few month later. So it's not unheard of that Sony does a negative 180.



thedevilsjester said:

@Tasuki They are actually on record saying that they may do just that.

@Reverend_Skeeve Just because Sony patented something akin to that, does not necessarily mean what you think it does. It could be as simple as them allowing you a disc free option by letting you register your disc with your account. Nothing about the patent states that it would be a mandatory requirement. It could also be about something entirely different than the PlayStation, since it did not specify a platform.

And what bs-ing and disrespecting did Sony do after the PS3 launch? Don't tell me its some butthurt from Other OS removal, or newer models without PS2 hardware. Both of those were good (if not great) things, and helped the PS3 sell as many consoles as the 360 did, with its year headstart.



Reverend_Skeeve said:

@thedevilsjester You're right, it doesn't necessarily mean that, but I wouldn't be surprised if Sony would've considered options pretty much in line with what MS originally planed.

And about the disrespecting: I can understand why Sony removed the other OS and the PS2 hardware from the PS3 from a business makes perfect sense and frankly, I was never much worried about the only partial bc of the 360 (or the missing one of the PS4, for that matter). I buy a new system to play new games. It was just the wording and the attitude Sony displayed back then.

First giving MS flack for the lack of bc and gloating about the fact that the 360 doesn't have it, but the PS3 does, then removing it. Further examples are the "We can't offer the PS3 at a price targeted at households. We want the people to work more to be able to afford one."-thingy. Then Phil Harrison, then president of Sony UK, I think who, when asked about the lackluster PS3 launch-lineup before launch, answered "We're PlayStation...we're gonna sell a couple of million units after launch, regardless of the games!".

More: The Dual Shock 3 which launched without rumble feature. Sony said back then that consumers didn't want that feature anyway and that it wasn't next gen, when word on the street was that both MS and Sony were in a fight about patents with a company that claimed ownership of the rumble-tech. After the whole thing was settled, the DS3 launched...with rumble-feature.

There's more, but you get the picture. Don't get me wrong: I love my PS4 and I appreciate Sonys attitude towards its customers today...also, the PS3 is a really good system with awesome exclusives. I love my PS1 and PS2 and the main reason I never had a PS3 was the fact that I didn't want to wait for next gen gaming back then and later only could afford one system and games, thus I stayed with the 360. When MS revealed their initial policies and mandatory Kinect-connection, I was as disgusted as the next guy and switched to Sony in a heartbeat, hoping they would go the smart way, which they did.

But nonetheless, I'm not a fanboy (not implying that you're one), so I call it as I see it, and Sonys attitude during the few first years of PS3 was arrogant and quite out of touch with both developers and its customers, in my opinion.



Paranoimia said:

As has been said, it would've been impossible for Sony to U-turn years of XBone style policies in the mere hours between last year's Microsoft event and their own, so I don't think it was ever an issue. Microsoft themselves took weeks to do so.

Besides, Sony are infamous for their inability to keep anything secret. If they had ever considered anything like the original XBone policies, we'd know about it.



sinalefa said:

I found that moment sad for the whole industry. When Tretton said "you will be able to do the same that you have been doing" which should be taken for granted, but it is met with cheers as if it was a new, great thing?

And if Microsoft would have gotten away with it, Sony would have probably adopted it as well. Not necessarily day 1, but look at their paid online this gen when it was free with PS3. Good thing neither company proceeded, thanks to all the disgruntled customers voting with their wallets.



thedevilsjester said:

@Reverend_Skeeve to be clear, they did not remove BC from the PS3. They started releasing newer, cheaper, models that no longer included BC. If you followed, they had BC only because the PS3 would not have a large library at the start and they wanted you to still get use out of it. They said this, it was not a secret. Everyone clamored for a cheaper price when they were already selling it at a huge loss because, mostly, the BluRay player. The only way to lower the price and give the customers what they want, was the remove the hardware that practically no one ever used at that point anyway. Of course it was a feature they advertised heavily, and it was HUGE for early adopters, but all the early adopters got their BC version, they did not remove that from other consoles, they just no longer made them that way. No disrespect or bad practice here!

As for the controller, maybe you were not aware, but it was known from day one the reason that they did not include rumble. This was never a secret. Of course, their PR guys wanted to spin it in a better light, just like Microsoft is doing now with the Kinect removal (when they said it was absolutely required)

As for your cost "quote" they never said anything remotely close to that (the key word from your quote, that changes the whole meaning of the statement, is 'want' which they never said). The PS3 was expensive, and it had to be so. It pushed a BluRay drive for one thing, and ever unit came with wireless built in, and had a HDD, something that was only available through add-ons or higher models in the competition. Sony could not cut the price any more than it already was without costs coming down, and without removing some hardware (see BC removal). Of course any PR statements have to put as positive of a spin on things like this as they can, but they were never even close to as bad as you make it out to be.

I do agree that Sony was out of touch with developers, but they were no more arrogant than Microsoft or Nintendo, or any other major company.

As for the "We're PlayStation...we're gonna sell a couple of million units after launch, regardless of the games!", of course they feel that way, EVERY successful company does, and its true! People buy brands based on the brands past history, and Sony had the best in the console business with the PS2 selling 155 million, vs Xbox 24 million, GameCube 21 million, and Dreamcast 10 million. There is a distinction between arrogance and confidence. Stating that millions of people will buy the PS3 because they are Sony (so based on their history) is a true and accurate statement. I bought my PS3 and did not buy a single game for six months! It was almost a year before I had two games. I bought it because its Sony and they have a history of making great consoles and great games. To this day I have a massive library of PS3 games, just like I knew I would when I bought it. Its not arrogance to know your market.



eaglebob345 said:

@Tasuki I still can't understand why anyone would trust the Xbox after all of that crap Microsoft tried to do, but everyone has their thing I guess.



eaglebob345 said:

@Reverend_Skeeve It strikes me as odd that Sony would get a patent like that in the age of technology, where everything on the internet can spread like wildfire. It would be some sad irony if Nintendo implemented universal accounts in the same generation that Sony linked games to accounts though, wouldn't it? XD Hopefully Sony doesn't do something that stupid, though.



ThreadShadow said:

Maybe I'm wrong on this, but I think this is because Sony is a Japanese company. I think Japanese companies (Sony, Nintendo) still have a little more respect for their consumers. I think if Sony had been an American company it would have followed suit with MS's original xBone plans. I don't know, maybe they did have the same plans anyway, saw the backlash against MS and scrapped them as quickly as they could to get the market edge.



Gamer83 said:

We'll never know the truth, but the next time I trust a suit at a giant corporation will be the first time. I don't believe for a second that Sony wasn't seriously considering going down the same path as MS had there not been such a huge backlash.



Reverend_Skeeve said:

@thedevilsjester Well, I guess we have to agree to disagree. It's not that I don't understand some of Sonys business decisions back then, it's the overall attitude and wording Sony displayed back then and over quite some years. Because of that, I perceived them as quite arrogant and unlikable, more so than any other company involved in video games, and I was following video game news in general closely even back then.

I'll just leave this here, then:

The neogaf thread isn't by me, but it backs my opinion. Again, you're totally welcome to disagree, of course.

@Gamer83 This.

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