E3 ’16: The Elephant in the Holodeck
Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony all have new systems coming very soon, but the Xbox maker was the only company to shed light on their hardware plans at this year’s E3. Instead of hyping their upcoming systems in their press conferences, Sony and Nintendo are deflecting questions regarding their consoles while Microsoft is being uncharacteristically transparent.
The oddest case for silence is Sony’s. Leaked internal documents point to a PlayStation “Neo” releasing this fall, sporting beefier, 4K-compatible hardware. With the PlayStation VR headset also on the horizon, you’d think Sony would want to message this new box sooner rather than later. Now, scuttlebutt puts Sony on the back foot, reacting to Microsoft’s plans with the possibility of an upgraded Neo shipping alongside the new Xbox in Fall 2017.
Not content to tease new hardware, Microsoft also revealed their new slim Xbox model. 40% smaller, and reportedly better performing, the Xbox One S will launch this August starting at $300. In addition to the slim model, Microsoft confirmed rumors of their code-named Scorpio console. Microsoft boasts the Scorpio will be, “the most powerful console ever,” supporting native 4K resolution and VR compatibility.
Nintendo also has a new console in the works to replace the dismally performing Wii U, but like Sony, they were completely silent on details. Unlike Sony, Nintendo telegraphed their plans to focus on software this year, leaving the big reveal of their code-named NX to sometime later. Worryingly, Nintendo’s North American head and giant, Reggie Fils-Aime, is already parroting the, “it’s not about specs” line of the console wars. Nintendo’s biggest struggle has always been 3rd-party support. Nintendo consciously positions themselves in the “catch-up” bracket of tech, they never sell a console at a loss, and they like introduce controller gimmicks to make their systems unique. Which guarantees that Nintendo themselves will be the only developers taking advantage of their console, again.
Though Sony and Nintendo disappointed on the hardware front, their games did shine. Sony’s reboots of beloved franchises and Nintendo’s foray into open-world Zelda premiered to a great deal of praise. Microsoft, too, had a nice showing of games. It will be interesting to watch the big three communicate their hardware plans over the coming year, and how gamers will react to the news.
by Tyler Barber