While Microsoft treated video game fans to new information on Gears 5, new Xbox Game Pass features, and an announcement of a Switch port for Ori and the Blind Forest at this year’s Gamescom, one can’t held but notice how its closest competitor, Sony, dominated the conversation. Here’s how the house of PlayStation managed to draw so much attention to itself despite Microsoft’s efforts to steal the show.
How Sony stole Microsoft’s thunder | Death Stranding
Hours after Microsoft streamed its Inside Xbox presentation and showed fans Gears 5‘s Horde mode, Kojima Productions revealed new information about Death Stranding during Gamescom Opening Night Live. While other games were mentioned during the presentation, including Gears 5 itself, roughly 30 minutes were dedicated to the PS4 exclusive. This extended first look at the title’s gameplay revealed phenomenon like Geoff Keighley holograms and weaponized pee — both of which set the internet ablaze shortly after their reveal.
The attention that Gears 5 had managed to garner throughout the course of the day seemed minuscule compared to the discussion that Death Stranding had generated with its oddities. Even now, there are no shortage of memes about the game. To put it plainly, Microsoft was the victim of bad timing. Though the company did discuss Gears 5 later in the week, the title failed to regain its momentum. All eyes were on Kojima and the mystery that still is his upcoming game.
How Sony stole Microsoft’s thunder | Sony’s Insomniac Games acquisition
All the awareness that Microsoft had managed to attract at Gamescom on Monday was further undermined by Sony’s acquisition of Insomniac Games. The company had sneakily announced the buyout after Microsoft’s Inside Xbox stream, highlighting its competitor’s failure to announce any new studio purchases at the annual event. Unlike some of Xbox Game Studios’ additions, the move didn’t appear to be superficial, as Sony referenced the developer’s pivotal contribution to the PlayStation ecosystem through exclusive franchises like Ratchet and Clank and Spider-Man.
Sony’s acquisition of Insomniac is undoubtedly a blow to Microsoft, as the studio formed a partnership with the publisher early on in the Xbox One’s life cycle in order to produce the well-received Sunset Overdrive. It seems like Microsoft won’t have a chance to greenlight a sequel anytime soon, even if the company has the rights to publish the franchise on consoles.
How Sony stole Microsoft’s thunder | PS4 games on PC
A day after Death Stranding and Sony’s acquisition of Insomniac blew everyone way, the company dropped yet another bombshell: PS4 software may release on multiple platforms in the future should their multiplayer components need to “lean into a wider installed base.” This means that games like Dreams, Death Stranding, and even The Last of Us Part 2 could release on PC if Sony and the developers behind them think it’s necessary. This news arrived right after Microsoft had announced the aforementioned Switch port of Ori and the Blind Forest and its plans to launch Gears 5 on Steam and Windows 10 simultaneously.
While the pro-consumer attitude that each company conveyed last week is certainly admirable, one can’t help but wonder what titles in Sony’s exclusive catalog are poised to release on PC in the near future. The publisher managed to pique curiosity and interest in a way that its competitor did not. It started a conversation rather than simply stating a fact — an effective tactic to use in order to generate buzz in today’s social media-driven world. Microsoft may be paving the way for larger online communities, but it should do its best to not let Sony take all the credit.
How Sony stole Microsoft’s thunder | Erica
Another surprise from Sony came in the reemergence and unexpected release of PS4 exclusive Erica, a narrative-driven FMV title from Flavourworks. While many Gamescom Opening Night Live viewers may not have thought much about the title given its live-action nature, the game has been decently received from both critics and users so far. Its coverage and praise by major gaming outlets has only managed to draw more attention to Sony, further diminishing Microsoft’s share of voice during Gamescom.
How Sony stole Microsoft’s thunder | Gamescom awards
Sony managed to hog up the spotlight even more during Gamescom Opening Night Live when the show’s award winners were announced. The company took home the most awards, with Dreams winning both most original game and best PS4 game and Concrete Genie winning best family game. In comparison, Microsoft only took home the prize for best Xbox One game via Gears 5.
This disparity brings attention to the platform exclusivity problem that Microsoft is well aware of at this point. Thankfully, the firm has shown that it’s trying to ameliorate the situation for its next generation of hardware. Microsoft could win a lot more awards in the future if the studios it’s acquired deliver the kind of quality software they’re well known for.
Xbox fans should rest assured knowing that Microsoft has plenty more to share during its X019 event in London this November. Sony won’t have a chance to steal Microsoft’s thunder in the near future, as the two publishers likely won’t be presenting at the same convention again until next year’s E3.
No matter one’s brand preference, there’s no refuting how exciting it is to witness two of the industry’s biggest titans go head-to-head, especially as the next generation of consoles draws closer. Competition ultimately benefits the consumer. The more, the merrier.