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General consensus is that Sony won E3 2016, but before their showing on Monday night, Microsoft had what many would consider a great press conference in their own right. Perhaps the biggest announcement that came out of it was the official reveal of the long rumored Xbox Scorpio, the company’s next step in gaming hardware set to launch in 2017. But before Scorpio rumors took off, a few leaks and rumors suggested PlayStation had a PS4.5 in the works, internally referred to as the PS4 Neo or PS4K. Days before E3 began, SCE President Andrew House confirmed the existence of the new “high-end” hardware, but said it would not be present at their press conference; it wasn’t.
Microsoft got out ahead with their Scorpio hardware, openly speaking about it and beginning to craft a message to sell it. According to Andrew House, this decision may have been premature, citing the triumphs and the faults of their PS4 announcement in 2013, as well as Apple’s “available now” initiative.
“I was surprised by the step of announcing something over a year ahead of time,” he told The Guardian. “The dynamics of the tech industry are such that there’s a much heavier emphasis on immediate gratification than there was. A lot of that is to do with how Apple has very cleverly and elegantly managed the ‘available now’ approach. So yes, that was a slight surprise to me. We experienced this ourselves, when, in 2013, very much in line with our previous strategies, we announced a concept and a name for PlayStation 4, and everyone said ‘where’s the box? How dare you?!’ That was the point we realised, well, we hadn’t changed but the world around us had.”
In addressing Sony’s decision to acknowledge PS4 Neo, House explained the following:
“The point of confirming the existence of PlayStation 4 Neo and the bare bones of the plan last week was about not disappointing the fan base who would obviously come to E3 with high expectations of all kinds of announcements,” he said. “And from past experience, the worst thing you can do is disappoint and pull the rug away from people. That’s why we went out last week and said, yes, it does exist but don’t expect to see it at E3. I think it was the right thing to do.”
Right now, both companies are playing the long game. It’s likely we won’t find out which strategy is best until later next year.