The curtain has closed on what was, in this author’s partially informed opinion, probably the strongest Xbox Showcase in recent memory. This wasn’t a total knockout on par with some of PlayStation’s best ever E3 presentations – is such a thing even possible now we’ve effectively transitioned from live audiences to trailer montages? – but it was very, very good, filled with an eclectic selection of both first-party and third-party titles, across a spectrum of different genres and themes.
Perhaps most surprising about this presentation was the sheer strength of its third-party content: Sony has historically done an incredible job of signing marketing deals with the industry’s biggest names, but Microsoft brought the heat with a selection of major, traditionally PlayStation-centric series, like Persona 3 Reload and Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth. The strategy from the Redmond firm’s outreach team appears laser targeted at titles with historic Sony association, which makes sense.
Elsewhere, while trailers for Clockwork Revolution and South of Midnight lacked substance, it’s clear that Microsoft’s substantial investment into acquisitions is slowly beginning to bear fruit. There were a lot of first-party games in the livestream, including Fable, Hellblade II: Senua’s Saga, and Avowed. Some will point to the absence of meaningful release windows outside of Starfield and Forza Motorsport, but that doesn’t mean their presence should be ignored.
And all this comes after an underwhelming PS Showcase which left Sony’s roadmap of PS5 exclusives looking uncharacteristically light. We know that it’s partnered with Square Enix to secure console exclusivity for Final Fantasy 16 and Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth, but outside of those two there’s only really Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 and Helldivers 2 to look forward to. Yes, it’s publishing Death Stranding 2, Stellar Blade, and Rise of the Ronin, but it’s fair to say we’re largely being left in the dark.
The platform holder attempted to use its presentation last month to introduce new studios Haven and Firewalk, but neither Fairgame$ nor Concord really whet the appetite. And with Marvel’s Wolverine being the only other publicly known first-party project from the ever-industrious Insomniac Games, we’d argue it’s time for the cloak and daggers approach to the organisation’s upcoming titles to end. The next time Sony takes to the YouTube stage, it’ll need to deliver.
Of course, context is crucial here: PlayStation has not been cruising, and it’s been releasing major, Game of the Year calibre exclusive games for many years now. And we know that the likes of Naughty Dog, Santa Monica Studio, Bend Studio, Guerrilla Games, and more are all busy beavering away on new projects for us to enjoy. That’s all reassuring; not even the most cynical enthusiast would attempt to argue there’s any danger of a PS5 drought, even with so much left unknown.
But with its main Redmond rival beginning to reveal the goods, the time to peel back the curtain – if only a little bit – has now come. Last month’s PS Showcase was not a disaster by any stretch of the imagination, but it was easily the weaker of the showings in a summer gaming season that’s once again failing to capture the spirit of the best E3 years. After the platform holder effectively took a year off in 2022, it needs to understand that fans now expect – and arguably deserve – a more meaningful roadmap from its many first-party teams.
How are you feeling about the PS Showcase in the aftermath of Microsoft’s big show? Do you think Sony’s presentation managed to stack up, or are you still disappointed by the lack of first-party projects on show? Let us know in the comments section below.