Pressure mounts on Sony for this year’s E3

As expo season hurtles towards us once again, Sony’s PS4 has a comfortable lead over Microsoft’s Xbox One. But Microsoft’s console has a premium Christmas lineup of mass appeal console-exclusive titles including Halo 5, Forza 6, Gears of War Remastered (probably) and Rise of the Tomb Raider. Expect them to market Call of Duty: Black Ops III so heavily as to make it look like an exclusive too.

Microsoft will splash the cash on an intense marketing barrage on our TV, laptop and tablet screens over the all important Xmas holiday season with this selection of familiar brands. As things stand, Sony’s Christmas lineup so far is certainly lacking titles to resonate with masses. But this could all change by the time Sony leaves the stage at E3 2015.

Sony UK’s Fergal Gara told MCV: “There is plenty for gamers to get excited about already, such as Tearaway for PS4 and No Man’s Sky. That’s just the start of what is on the table right now. So I don’t have any concerns that we will have a lack of strong software for PS4 this peak.”

We hope for Sony’s sake that they do have some big reveals for E3 as pinning your Xmas sales ambitions on Tearaway and No Man’s Sky sounds like madness. Don’t get me wrong, Tearaway was fantastic on the Vita and we’re glad to see it reworked for the PS4, but it hardly has the same mass appeal as a single one of the Xbox exclusives mentioned earlier. And as for No Man’s Sky, this could be one of the best games on the PS4 yet, but again, the whole concept is incredibly vague for that vital mass appeal, which is sadly what makes or breaks your Christmas sales. Given the lack of any extensive hands-on reports on the game, we wouldn’t be surprised to see it fall into 2016 too.

When Uncharted 4 slipped into next year, it was a huge blow for Sony. And they recently put the Ratchet & Clank reboot back into 2016 too, although we think it makes sense to hold Ratchet back for release alongside the movie, which was also delayed to 2016.

So what does Sony need from E3? They need to announce a couple of must-buy titles that will release this year. It’s hard to see what these games might be though, especially as we usually hear about big games a year or two before they are released from most publishers and Sony have never been great at keeping secrets. If you’re a PS4 owner, you’ll certainly be hoping for more than an Uncharted series remaster. God of War IV for Christmas would be a huge surprise, but a most welcome one. An expansion for Bloodborne would be a major score too.

Instead, Sony could look to heavily market a few select titles with their ‘Better on PlayStation’ policy that served them well with Destiny. Metal Gear Solid V is ripe for this given the PlayStation’s history with the series. Could we see a partnership with EA for exclusive DLC for Star Wars: Battlefront?

Sony may opt to play the long game instead by showing off what’s coming in 2016 in order to convince gamers to buy into a very promising future. After last year’s no show, Project Morpheus is surely an essential part of their presentation, especially with VR gathering such momentum of late. We’d expect a lengthy stage demo for Uncharted 4 too. Maybe even a brief reminder/rebranding of The Last Guardian (we can hope at least).

The fact that Sony won’t be making a press conference appearance at Gamescom in Germany is a cause for concern too. Europe is usually such a stronghold for them, and this apparent shun is odd. Naturally, Microsoft has proudly declared they will be attending. There’s a strong chance that Sony are spreading their announcements by ditching Gamescom for their new PlayStation Experience event that was such a success in Las Vegas towards the end of 2014.

Sony is by no means heading for a disappointing Christmas, but unless there are some major announcements at E3, they could lose a chunk of their lead in the new-gen sales race. On the plus side, throughout the year we’ve seen Sony and Microsoft working with retailers to provide some absurdly cheap console bundles, ensuring that it’s never been cheaper to dive into the next generation of gaming so early. By Black Friday, we may find it to be a very viable option to own both consoles anyway if last year was anything to go by.

What do you think readers? Are Sony being a little over-confident going into the holidays? Which lineup is more appealing to you? Or is owning both consoles going to make this all a moot concern? Or are the third party titles like COD, Assassin’s Creed and Star Wars: Battlefront going to be more important factors?

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