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What Gamescom Means For Next Gen
E3 has come and gone. It was a pretty good one for Microsoft in terms of games and a great one for Sony, who seem to be hitting all the right notes so far in their next generation tune. Gamescom is the next big battle for the companies. Based in Germany, Gamescom is the European version of the big gaming exhibitions. While not as glamorous or as big as E3 traditionally has been, it no doubt takes up a large piece of Microsoft and Sony’s time each year, especially this year.
Europe has tended to be, as a whole, a middle ground between the three big games console manufacturers. In the current gen, Nintendo and Microsoft had around 44 million consoles sold each while Sony was down at 26 million units (according to VGChartz). Switch to Japan and the tables flip a little. Sony sold 9.4 million units and Nintendo’s 12.7 compared to Microsoft’s measly 1.5 million. It is obvious here that Sony does well in Japan and Microsoft does well in North America. Europe, however, had no discernible pattern. While there is a difference, both Microsoft and Sony are pretty close to each other and it has been that way for a while. Europe is the one place that is a constant battleground for the companies with many different regions and cultures making it a hard one to crack. Going into next gen, both companies will continue that fight and it starts with Gamescom.
For Microsoft, this might be their last opportunity to convince us that they have a vision for the Xbox One. Their first vision was based around the restrictions that their console imposed that was their philosophy. Now, after the change to their console to line up better with people’s views of what next gen should be, they have gotten rid of that completely. Don’t misunderstand me, I believe they have made the right change, but they need to show their new vision, their new philosophy. In addition to this they need to make it about the gamers. They could take the stand that the gamers were the ones who they were listening to when changing, not admitting that it was a purely business decision. Another way that Gamescom is important for the Xbox manufacturers is in the features. Sometimes, out of personal experience, games companies have given Europe the short hand. Not out of choice has this been done but because of difficulties with licensing across different countries. What will Xbox bring the European audience that is comparable to North America? Will it be the same of will we be left underhanded again? These are vital to gaining a hold in Europe.
Sony, meanwhile, seems to be able to do no wrong. Even when they began to talk about their television capabilities, dropping the momentum of their event and losing the crowd momentarily, they followed it up with the price and the announcement of no DRM for the PlayStation 4. They know how to work the crowd this time around and are not making similar mistakes as last time. Can they do the same in Europe? Many people in this region were just as happy as anyone else after E3 with Sony and so the PlayStation manufacturer must do all in their power to continue. Games, game and more game should be the main focus. There can never be enough games. We have gone over the indie games at E3 and showed some footage of other games. This is the chance to wow everyone and bring even more great AAA titles our way. Like Microsoft, features are imperative. Sony have already said that there won’t be Gaikai streaming for anywhere but North America in the near future, so what is coming that could make the wait THAT bit less painful? I’ll leave that up to Sony to figure out. Lastly, a release date is equally important. Microsoft showed their hand with a November release but Sony shielded that bit of information and must show it at this exhibition. Could a European release slightly earlier be on the horizon? Probably not but I can still dream that Europe will get great things first.