Sony may have spelled "game over" for Microsoft at this year's E3, or at least that's what some think has happened at the annual super-massive gaming show in Los Angeles where embattled console makers fight to hawk their latest wares.
Microsoft came out with a solid enough start at Monday's E3 Xbox news conference. It listened to critics and kept the cable-television-control features of Xbox One out of the event entirely. Announcing a partnership with Twitch TV for socially sharing live game play put it on par with Sony's partnership with Ustream.
Microsoft listed the starting price for a Xbox One at $499, a predictable price for a powerful computer that could process the realistic cars of "Forza Motorsport 5" or city blocks full of the undead in "Dead Rising 3."
All in all, it was a decent showing, topped off by "Titanfall", a promising mech-suit game. Even if some larger issues regarding used games and mandatory Internet connectivity went undiscussed, the game variety stood on its own. Then, seven hours later, Sony gave its news conference a go and completely pulled ahead of Microsoft in almost every way.
The Sony team took twice the time Microsoft used to showcase games, with decent newcomers like "The Order: 1886" and "DESTINY," as well as a surprising amount of time talking about indie studios.
Little moments began to build up. The system was revealed to be a black box with a bit of a rhombus shape. A staged conversation between the life-like Lebron James character in a PlayStation 4 game and the real-life Lebron James worked well to showcase the system's detail.
A check-in from Square Enix to announce the long-sought-after "Kingdom Hearts 3" (no Kingdom Hearts game even made it to PS2) trended on Twitter all through the night.
In the last quarter of the presentation, Jack Tretton, the president and CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment America, boldly went for Microsoft's jugular. To huge applause, he announced that "PlayStation 4 won't impose any new restrictions on used games," "PlayStation 4 disc-based games don't need to be connected online to play," and "it won't stop working if you haven't authenticated within 24 hours."
Thousands of GameStops sighed in relief. Sony shortly thereafter launched an instantly viral video poking fun at Microsoft's waffling outlook on DRM restrictions.
Sony briefly talked about the cloud and again confirmed that its handheld device, the PS Vita, could stream games directly from the PS4. Xbox One's Smart Glass app for tablets had earlier shown the ability to display in-game statistics of you and your friends, but it was nothing quite like what the PS Vita was offering.
Tretton then priced the PlayStation 4 at $399, $100 less than its Xbox counterpart. Sony had listened to its fan base. It had learned from its mistakes of previous years, when it priced the PS3 as high as $599 to start. It had earned trust and had a good time beating up its opponent in the process.