We’re used to Sony blowing us out of the water with their conferences. Whether it’s announcing a slew of new games, or giving spotlight to smaller indie titles, they typically bring the heat. But last night’s Sony E3 press conference was little more than the company saying “We got nothing the rest of this year, but next year! Next year’s gonna be great!”

It was an all-around lukewarm showing that was more notable for the games it lacked. There was no Death Stranding, no The Last of Us Part II, no long rumored Bloodborne 2, Sucker Punch is still M.I.A., and even Knack 2 was missing.

Sony should be commended for the way they presented their show. They started with trailers for Uncharted: The Lost Legacy and some Horizon: Zero Dawn DLC. Then brought out an executive to talk for a minute or two. After that, the rest of the show was nothing but trailers. There was no marketing spiel, no talk of sales numbers, and no rambling on about hardware capability. But the actually content of the show left a lot to be desired. That includes the most notable absence of all: indie games.

Nothing at All?

Except for one or two PlayStation VR games, Sony’s show lacked indie games completely. Indie games are great for filling any release date holes in a company’s yearly schedule. We saw that just a couple of days ago when Microsoft bolstered its otherwise terrible 2017 with a ton of indie support. Normally that’s Sony’s doing, but this year, they’re seemingly more interested in providing content for their weeklong livestreams than their main show.

Look no further than the two biggest surprise absences: Shenmue 3 and Pyschonauts 2. Shenmue 3 debuted at Sony’s E3 2015 conference, and since then, Sony has remained dead silent on their partnership. For developer Yu Suzuki’s part, he too has been eerily silent about details of his game, announcing before the show that it wouldn’t be at E3 this year and that it would be delayed to 2018.

Sony has been building quite the partnership with Double Fine over the last few years. They’ve produced several remakes of Tim Schafer’s old point and click games, even bringing the man up to the E3 stage to announce some of them. Sony also produced Psychonauts in the Ruin of Rhombus, which was also announced by Schafer at Sony’s E3 conference in 2016. It would have made all the sense in the world to have Psychonauts 2’s grand debut at their conference last night, but that didn’t happen.

The Biggest Surprise

The most shocking thing from E3 so far is how Microsoft has seemingly beaten Sony at their own game. As a result, Microsoft may actually come away from this show as the clear winner.

Microsoft had a string of great looking indie games at their disposal to fill their ranks. They likely aren’t system sellers, but Microsoft may have finally shaken their reputation for not having any games. That’s something that could prove more valuable in the long run. Indie games can make or a break a console. Independent developers can provide a unique spark to a console maker’s lineup. That’s something Sony didn’t consider this year. They tossed indie games to the side in favor of bland, mostly gameplay-free trailers of already announced games.

Nintendo’s Treehouse event is right around the corner, and we’ll soon see how much they value indie games. It’s hard to see them topping Microsoft’s show. But, it’s equally hard seeing them fail as hard as Sony did at preserving their indie gaming spirit.

About the Author

Josh Griffiths

Josh Griffiths is a writer and amateur historian. He has a passion for 3D platformers, narrative-driven games, and books. Josh is also Cliqist’s video producer. He’s currently working on his first novel, and will be doing so on and off for the next decade.

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