Now the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 have been outlined in full, it's clear which will win the next-gen console race

PlayStation 4 E3
Sony America CEO Jack Tretton presents the PlayStation 4 keynote at E3

It's 5am and I've just finished covering all the big keynotes from the first day of E3 2013. Naturally, considering my currently Edward Norton in Fight Club level of sleeplessness, I was worried about having to write a probing, deeply analytic toss-up between the Microsoft and Sony presentations. I thought the conferences would be so similar, or at least, so finely different, that picking apart who "won" would take a lot of thought, research and concentration, three things that are completely beyond me right now.

Thankfully, it's cut and dry: Sony absolutely smashed it.

I don't see any reason now why anyone would go for the Xbox One over the PlayStation 4. The games, for starters, were way more enticing. Aside from maybe Dead Rising 3, the most exciting things on stage at the Microsoft keynote were Halo 5, which is another Halo and Battlefield 4 and Watch Dogs, which are both cross platform.

Sony meanwhile had Kingdom Hearts 3, Infamous: Second Son and Killzone: Shadow Fall, which all look like flashy goofy fun. The Order: 1886, a surprise exclusive starring werewolves in Victorian London, looks pretty tasty too.


Then there were the indies. Supergiant and Red Barrels were on-hand to talk up their upcoming games for the PS4, with Sony announcing, much to everyone's delight, that independent developers would be able to self-publish on the PlayStation, dodging the rigorous certification process Microsoft has already outlined for Windows and is expected to repeat on the Xbox.

With first ever gameplay footage of Destiny, new shots of Driveclub and Jack Tretton's announcement that 140 titles were currently being developed for PS4, it was, like back in February, all about the games with Sony. But the company didn't stop there.

Slam dunks

Sony's scored several slam dunks against Microsoft.

Used games will be free to buy and sell with the PS4, exactly as they are with current gen machines, and no online verification will be required, not every 24 hours; not ever. Sony got its message straight. Whereas the policies surrounding the Xbox One have gotten tangled up in PR speak, contradictions and, frankly, litigiousness, Sony's playing the straight shooter.

The PS4 is uncomplicated, consumer friendly and, above all else, cheaper. That was the real headshot.

The PlayStation 4 is £349, way below the One, at £429. Packed with games, geared towards users and way less expensive, the PS4 as it stands is head, shoulders and body above the One. As I said, I don't see why anyone would go with Microsoft.

Xbox One E3
Phil Harrison, corporate vice president of Microsoft, speaks during the Xbox E3 Media Briefing. (Credit: Reuters)

Even the One's unique selling point, its focus on video streaming and on-demand content, has been undermined by Sony. 20 million songs will be available on PS4 via Music Unlimited, alongside 150,000 films and television shows on Video Unlimited. And that's just at launch.

With its significant ties to the entertainment industry via the Sony Music and Sony Pictures labels, there's no real limit on how much material Sony could push through the PlayStation 4. Microsoft meanwhile is still haranguing deals with CBS.

One gripe

If I have to have one gripe (and I'm pretty sure my contract says somewhere that I do) then it's with both keynotes. Sony's games were better, I think, but like Microsoft's, they weren't exactly new looking. I don't mean in terms of graphics, but thematically. The titles we've seen for the One and PS4 are all variations on same old genres that have been around for generations now: Racing, soldier and fantasy games.

Even the "adorable" independent and platform games, like What Lies Below and Knack, strike me as kind of worthless. These are still infantalising, childish little daydreams, not the kind of meaty literature and adult material I was hoping to see on next-gen.

Both hardware makers were talking up "the future" and "new experiences" but it looks, for now at least, like the future is just as closeted and immature as the past; the new experiences are merely shinier than the old ones.

Grown-up games

But it's early days yet: If The Last of Us and, by the looks of things Beyond: Two Souls tell me anything, it's that the more interesting games tend to seep out later in a console's lifespan, once developers have a secure userbase and have gotten to grips with the technology. I'm hoping, as time goes by, we'll see some more grown-up games roll out, and I know, for damn sure, that if they do, I'll be playing them on a PlayStation 4.

Other than that, there's little more to say. As I've explained, it would be expected that after events like this I'd write up a wordy, microscopic dissection of each keynote, carefully deciding which company took it by the nose. But not this year.

Sony absolutely dominated. It capitalised on every single misstep made in the Microsoft PR campaign and said the right thing, over and over again. That's it basically. Sony wins.