LOS ANGELES – While E3 is meant to celebrate all things gaming, it’s also a spectator sport. As soon as Sony and Microsoft wrap-up their respective annual press conferences, fans can’t help but to flock to social media to declare who “won” this year’s event. But while the two gaming juggernauts are still very much competitors, E3 2016 felt like the start of the both companies establishing vastly different identities, to the point where PlayStation and Xbox may soon coexist more peacefully than ever.
Microsoft's E3 showcase made it clear that it’s doing things different this year. Having shown off two new consoles and a slew of games that work across Xbox One and PC, the Xbox brand no longer represents a specific device, but rather a platform that allows you to play your games on the machine that best suits you.
Looking for a gaming machine that can stream 4K movies? The Xbox One S has you covered. Don’t feel like waiting until next year for the VR-Ready Project Scorpio? No problem, you can just build a high-end gaming PC and play all of Microsoft’s upcoming games on Windows 10. It’s abundantly clear that Xbox’s new direction is defined by choice, from its multiple Xbox One machines to insanely customizable new controllers.
While Xbox continues to tout hardware variety, Sony’s laser-focus on games feels sharper than ever. The PlayStation E3 presser was an overwhelming blitz of exclusive titles, from the jaw-dropping God of War reboot to the gorgeous new Spider-Man game. The fact that Sony didn’t show off its spruced-up “Neo" console seems telling, as if the 40 million PS4 owners out there were being assured that the console already in their living room was going to stay there for a long time.
The Sony-Microsoft rivalry will likely endure for years, and the fact that the two brands are pushing each other to do their best is great for gamers. However, it’s getting harder to make apples-to-apples comparisons between the two, and choosing between PlayStation and Xbox will soon be much more complex than heading to a store and picking up one of two black boxes. If you’re a PlayStation and PC gamer interested in Xbox, for example, you might just be a graphics card upgrade away from Microsoft’s best upcoming games.
So, will gamers ever stop taking to Twitter to brag about how their favorite console company crushed it? Not as long as the internet exists. But as you hop off of your Windows PC and cozy up with your PS4, you may realize that you’ve unintentionally chosen both sides.