Sony E3 2017
Assembled media, fans and Sony employees watch the Spider-Man gameplay demo during Sony's E3 press event.Getty Images

Since the launch of the PlayStation 4 four years ago Sony has brought to E3 three successive years of impressive showcase events highlighted by big announcements and huge surprises, peaking in 2016 with the reveals of Death Stranding, God of War, Spider-Man and Days Gone.

Sony's strategy relied on fan-pleasing announcements playing off years of invested demand, and major new exclusives that gave the assurance of quality PS4 first party offerings in the pipe.

Final Fantasy 7 Remake, Shenmue 3's Kickstarter, the return of The Last Guardian sat alongside the aforementioned 2016 reveals, Horizon Zero Dawn, Bloodborne and numerous PlayStation VR titles.

The 2015 and 2016 shows in particular were fantastic, creating enormous momentum for PS4 - sales of which have topped 60 million - and PlayStation VR - which recently passed the one million mark and has exceeded expectations.

It's the kind of momentum no company would be able to sustain for long, a fact now all too clear following Sony's ultimately disappointing 2017 press conference.

In of itself the company's presentation was lavish, had plentiful quality and there were a couple of big announcements, but these events are always analysed as annual statements of intent offering an idea of where the company is and where it's going.

In the early hours of this morning (13 June) Sony's big E3 showcase showed a company treading water.

It's somewhat inevitable. Over the last two years, these events have focused just a little too much on games too far off to justify the kind of excitement their reveals and trailers have been met with.

This year that became apparent, as God of War, Spider-Man and Days Gone all showed up as expected, showed off gameplay as expected, but revealed no more than vague 2018 release windows. David Cage's Detroit: Become Human, which was announced in 2015, didn't event get that.

To an extent this was expected of one or two of these games, but not all them. Sony's line-up for late 2017 suddenly looks a little threadbare, with an Uncharted game that's a standalone expansion and the long-delayed GT Sport leading the way.

The reveals of a full remake of Shadow of the Colossus and Capcom's Monster Hunter World bringing the series to PS4, as well as Xbox One and PC, were big and fan-pleasing, but both could well be subject to delays.

Publishers are getting wise to how tired players are growing of waiting years between a game being announced and it being released. Ubisoft announced Far Cry 5 and Assassin's Creed Origins less than a year before they're set for release, and Bethesda announced The Evil Within and Wolfenstein sequels at its conference, both of which are out before Christmas.

Sony's major problem during this very successful console generation for them has been managing its first-party release schedule. In 2016 Uncharted 4, The Last Guardian, No Man's Sky, GT Sport and Horizon Zero Dawn were all delayed, frustrating fans no end.

This needs to change and Sony's press conference at E3 2017 may be the necessary lull to ensure that down the line. The gaming giant will be fine of course. PlayStation 4 will be fine and continue to dominate sales of third-party games even as Microsoft's Xbox One X launches later this year. But in having to ease off the accelerator, Sony is opening itself up to losing ground on its competitors - both in sales and the estimations of fans around the world.

For all the latest video game news follow us on Twitter @IBTGamesUK.