E3 2016 Sony – Divided we stand

U4 coin

Sony comes to E3 as victor. Not only does the lack of NX and Microsoft’s current state of weakness clear the way for him, but the manufacturer can also boast growing economic results. Its consolidated result has more than doubled, and is now positive.

Surprisingly it’s not by achieving superior sales that Sony reached profitability : revenues are slightly down. On the other hand and very much like its rival, the electronics giant has been mainly saving money. Production costs have been reduced by 2%, administrative costs by 6% and other expenses by 72% (but the latter represent a much lower figure). It’s fairly obvious on several product lines (mobile, TVs, photography) which sees their profitability boosted by the lesser costs. Only black mark on the record, semi-conductors are unhealthy and dive into the red. Batteries and other pieces aren’t very competitive any more, and caused amortizations.

The gaming division is still shining : the branch’s operating result surged almost 100% thanks to staggering PS4 and PS4 software sales. Sony had planned 16m shipments for the system, and ended up shipping 17,7m. Clearly the powerful partnerships signed in 2015 have brought results, AAA games players generally preferred PS4 versions. By doing multiple astonishing conferences throughout the year, Sony gave some line of sight t customers who know they’ll have plenty of choice between Western and Japanese games, including countless exclusives. Japanese games seem locked for PS4 and Vita as publishers drive away from 3DS. We’ll have to wait and see how they react to NX, but as things stand Sony has almost everything. It’s worth noticing that the Playstation Network alone generated more revenues than the whole Nintendo. Yes, the domination is huge.

Sony is then able to multiply its consolidated operating result by 5! As for taxes, the firm finally eases the pain, because its net profits allow a reversal on deferred taxes amortizations and much to its delight, Sony received direct tax benefits. The manufacturer seems definitely in luck.

Akiba Beat

Sony’s E3 actually starts well before the show officially opens. In the first days of June, a frenzy of reveals takes place in the gaming world and developers put everything on the table right away! Horizon Zero Dawn gets a release date, as well as Dragon Quest Builders, World of Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts 2.8. Gran Turismo Sport is shown again, Persona 5 details its plans for America, Final Fantasy XII HD is unveiled, Akiba’s Beat is announced (worldwide), Fate Extella and SummonNight 6 let us know they are being localized and Tokyo Xanadu all but confirms it’s coming west by being ported to PS4. The producer of TitanFall 2, before saying anything about his game, warmly welcomes PS4 gamers. The play stands for EA’s futuristic shooter are all PS4. The Japanese company couldn’t be more pleased… PS4 Neo (the super-powerful 4K version of the system), which was supposed to be the star of the show, is confirmed but doesn’t make any appearance at E3. So what’s left for the conference? Will there be even crazier things? Confusion and suspense cause headaches, but Playstation has already won the first round by the usual method : games, games, games.

Before we answer the above question, you have to consider what happened after the conference. It so happened that most publishers released their trailers once the E3 doors were officially opened. In mid-day in the 14th, several companies posted trailers more or less at the same time, making it difficult for any of them to stand out. NieR Automata is briefly seen with 1 minute of video or so, accurate details being saved for the next Famitsu 2 days later. Tales of Berseria reminds us that it comes West, as well as Sword Art Online Hollow Realization which can’t avoid a delay to 2017. Attack on Titan, Ni-Ô and Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2 also gatecrash during the afternoon. The power of the rich line-up is indeed on the showfloor, but you’re probably starting to imagine the problem.

TLG

Fatally, with that much content before and after, there is little left for the conference, short and lifeless. By focusing on a couple of western-centric games (God of War, Days Gone, Spiderman, etc.), Sony shatters the unity and diversity that made it strong last year in every part of the world. The company looks like it doesn’t want to unite its fans anymore. The Last Guardian only got 3 minutes of a confusing trailer, and Gravity Daze 2 won’t even be shown (it had been in the Paris conference). Poor Kat’s trailer will be posted in the internet just after the conference, like a bone thrown to a dog. Meanwhile, the conference features Skylanders and Lego Star Wars Episode 7. It’s absolutely pathetic, a conference where you prefer Skylanders to Gravity Daze is is FU** BULLSH**! “4 the players” has become “4 the masses”, a retarded view of the industry in which you don’t take any risk, stop innovating in order to get easy cash. Art and diversity will manage to survive someway, they must think… This conference should have included games like Persona 5 or NieR Automata, at least to balance its message and so that its host lives up to its leadership. That night, Sony was everything but a worldwide leader. Microsoft invited Platinum Games, SquareEnix and BandaiNamco on stage, Sony couldn’t care less and doesn’t even answer to that. The Japanese manufacturer keeps thinking locally in the biggest international show of the year. Huge mistake : Sony is being divisive at the very time it must gather people together.

Playstation VR, awkwardly pushed by worthless-looking in-game features, doesn’t make us optimistic either. Batman VR, Stra Wars X-Wing VR, a dumb shooting mini-game for FFXV in which you play as Prompto (the least character you’d want to play as) are announced without a single detail on how they are played. Eagle Flight and Star Trek VR from Ubisoft clearly look bad, so at this point you’d pretty much pity virtual reality.

RE7

Until that moment. Resident Evil 7 is announced by a frightening trailer and is indeed back to its horror roots. Fear is back and action is sacked. Fans rejoice, and even more so when they find out that it will be 100% VR compatible and that a demo has been discreetly delivered on the PS+. The short gameplay is absolutely scary on a regular screen : the atmosphere is so oppressive that the first noise almost cause a heart attack. Just imagine that in VR! The demo is also rich and complex, including several endings and little secrets. It’s quickly made a strong buzz in the web, so that might be the killer-app PSVR needs to take off.

Miku FL

In Japan, Famitsu reveals that Project Diva X will be updated to be compatible with PSVR in the future, to coincide with Hatsune Miku VR Future Live. Both titles allow the player to watch Miku’s performance in a more intimate way. Summer Lesson, Harada’s bizarre game which puts you in relation with pretty chicks, finally becomes a full-fledged launch line-up product. Of course, this information is not discussed at E3, SCEA having closed cultural borders. At the very least, PSVR has a chance to sell decently at launch.

In short, this E3 is a leap forward for Playstation, but a huge step backwards for Sony which is weak and divisive. While its accounts have never been better, the manufacturer plays it safe and entrusts part of the promoting job to publishers and the community. The Playstation ecosystem widely dominates in both number and variety of releases, but this rich line-up has to live in blackout. We’ll have to observe how this situation evolves and if Sony really decided to leave part of its audience behind.

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