E3 2013 - Microsoft - Xbox One - Killer Instinct -  005

By now you might have heard that Sony crushed E3 this year with a triple KO punch of supporting used games, no required Internet connection, and being $100 cheaper. Standing tall and proud like a knight in white shining armor, the PlayStation 4 is now basking in the image of being everything the Xbox One is not. Consumer friendly and a system truly designed with gamers in mind.

Don’t be so quick to judge the Xbox One’s E3 showing though. Microsoft did the best it could with its press conference and held firm to the game plan that indeed put the games first. Give the euphoria of the PlayStation 4 announcements a little time to settle in, and you just might see that the Xbox One has a very gamer friendly library up its sleeves.

If this had been any other year at E3, it would be hard to argue that Microsoft  failed to deliver a message. That the Xbox One is a gaming console first and an entertainment center second. What exactly did they show off? Here is a quick recap of exclusives and non-exclusives that appeared in the Xbox One’s press conference:

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, Dark Souls 2, Sunset Overdrive, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Project Spark, Halo, Dead Rising 3, D4, Below, Ryse: Son of Rome, Titanfall, Quantum Break, Crimson Dragon, Forza Motorsport 5, and of course, the big daddy of them all that proves Microsoft is listening to the hardcore gamer, Killer Instinct.

A list that impressive should not be swept aside so lightly. The 15 exclusive titles we believed were going to be throwaway Kinect games proved to be more than just a twisted statistic from Microsoft. The Xbox One went out to get some serious third party exclusive deals and is genuinely delivering 15 exclusive games that I might be interested in playing.

Even when put next to Sony’s line-up of announced games, this list soars. Final Fantasy XV and Kingdom Hearts 3 drive a deep spike into the heart of my childhood Squaresoft fanboyism, but beyond that?

Killzone has never been my cup of tea. If I wanted to play Knack, I would buy a Wii U and play Nintendo mascot games. The Order 1886 looks uninspiring. inFamous Second Son, Sony’s best shot at a first party runaway hit, looks fun but could be easily replaced by other third party open-world action games like Mad Max, Watch_Dogs or Grand Theft Auto V.

Even to a casual racing fan, I know that Forza has a better reputation than newcomers like Drive Club or maybe even a more accessible allure than Gran Turismo.

Based on games alone, I would go so far as to say Microsoft dominated Sony up and down the 100 yard stretch. Its conference held my attention for the entire 90 minute length, leaving me wondering what I would see next, where as Sony’s rather boring hohum show only captivated me for the closing minutes.

But unfortunately for Microsoft, those closing minutes where all Sony needed. Not even the most core focused of video games could top the PlayStation 4’s triple KO announcements. Even something catered for veteran gamers such as the long waited grand return of Killer Instinct seems miniscule in the face of a cheaper price, more gamer friendly approach to inter-connectivity, and true possession of your games.

I had wondered earlier in the week if focusing solely on games would be enough for Microsoft to make it through unscathed, distracting gamers from the huge elephant in the room with a solid library. For a while, it seemed the plan might actually pull them through.

Sony, though, went for the kill in its press conference and reminded us all about the fatal flaws Microsoft failed to address in its own showing. In an E3 when a generation change is about to occur, it is not all about the games. It is about the consoles and the investments gamers will be making for the next half a decade or so with a relatively large sum of money.

Sony capitalized on this better, called out its rival’s horrible policies, and is carrying the momentum into the holiday season. Well played.