E3 2019: Is Sony doing an extreme take on Nintendo’s Direct approach?

Nintendo used to be the top dog in the industry back in the golden age of gaming during the ’80s and early ’90s, but the pendulum shifted when Sony came onto the scene with the original PlayStation. Since then, the PS brand has been showered with love and attention from both gamers and industry personnel alike, especially during the PS2 era. With this in mind, that makes it all the more surprising that the company will not be at E3 2019 at all.

This announcement understandably caught the gaming community off guard. Since E3 first began over two decades ago, the company has always had a presence. So, why the sudden change? Well, perhaps Sony might be taking a page from Nintendo.

Back in 2013, Nintendo made a similarly controversial decision not to hold a traditional press conference. Instead, Nintendo would opt to go for a prerecorded show in the style of its (then new) Nintendo Direct format. Initially, this decision was met with a lot of pushback from gamers and even some journalists. Some folks were insinuating that this was a sign of weakness from Nintendo since the company was not doing very well at the time. Even so, the Big N held their first E3 Direct that year, and have done so every year since. Interestingly enough, other companies have taken cues from Nintendo here as they’ve been including an increasing amount of prerecorded segments in their live conferences. At E3 2018, Sony had a lot of such segments.

Nintendo has been holding Direct presentations since 2012, and this format has affected the conferences of many other companies, including Sony.

Although Nintendo has never come out and said it, I personally believe that one reason why the company made the change to E3 Directs is that it was probably tired of being overshadowed by Sony and Microsoft. As mentioned before, Sony has been on top for several years. When Microsoft joined the console race in the early 2000s, this pushed Nintendo down even further. Since then, there’s always been a not-so-subtle bias against Nintendo.

Usually, when a console discussion comes up, it’s always “PlayStation vs. Xbox.” Even on many gaming news outlets, you see a lot of coverage for PS and Xbox, whereas Nintendo gets far less coverage. This is especially seen during E3 season. Hence, I believe Nintendo started doing Direct-style presentations to directly deliver as many details as possible to its fanbase, cutting out the reliance on media. The company has even taken it a step further with extensive Nintendo Treehouse live streams after their  E3 presentations that offer an even deeper look at the revealed titles. Essentially, Nintendo acts as both the show presenter and reporter these days at E3. So, regardless of how much more flare PlayStation and Xbox have, Nintendo still gets its news out there.

As for Sony’s recent decision, I believe this could be an even more extreme take on Nintendo’s approach. That is, it may possibly be planning to handle all aspects of its future reveals. While Nintendo only opted to change its approach to E3, Sony has seemingly decided to do its own thing entirely. 

While Nintendo still attends E3 as a formality, Sony has opted to do its own thing entirely.

Sony has been murmuring about the PS5 for a little while at this point. This makes sense considering that the PS4 recently turned six years old, putting it in the beginning of the “twilight years” of its lifecycle. There are many theories as to when Sony plans to launch PS5. Some predictions point to next year, but there’s also a chance it can come in 2020. Regardless, the point is the company does have something big behind the scenes. Yet it has opted to forego E3 completely.

If anything, the Nintendo Direct format proves that Nintendo (and by extension, every other company) doesn’t really need E3 these days to get their news out there. The E3 Directs have basically become a formality at this point since Nintendo still holds these presentations throughout the rest of each year, and they’re no different from the ones made for E3. Thanks to the Internet, big reveals can be made at any time by any means. Do you remember how the Switch was revealed to the world? Just by means of a simple YouTube video. No big showcase event with lights, fog, and other theatrical effects. Just your everyday, average YouTube trailer. And yet, that clearly hasn’t harmed the system at all from a sales perspective.

Media Create
Nintendo didn’t reveal the Switch at E3. Sony might have also been inspired by that.

Likewise, it isn’t exactly a travesty that Sony is now skipping E3, but it’s still a weird decision. In my eyes, this could essentially be a move of vanity. After all, working on a new system has never stopped the company from attending E3 in the past. Thus, I don’t see why this would be a necessary move all of a sudden. It basically boils down to being a choice. Sony just may really want all eyes focused exclusively on its camp for the next big reveal. Not only will the company deliver the news on its own, but it doesn’t even seem to want the likes of Nintendo and Microsoft to be within the vicinity. That’s also similar to Nintendo’s approach with the Switch’s reveal. It was shown in October 2016, and then released in March 2017. Switch didn’t appear at its first E3 until it already spent three months on the market.  It looks like the PS5 may end up the same way. 

Regardless of what Sony’s true intentions and reasonings are, one thing is for sure: it definitely loves to copy Nintendo. 

A.K Rahming
Having been introduced to video games at the age of 3 via a Nintendo 64, A.K has grown up in the culture. A fan of simulators and racers, with a soft spot for Nintendo! But, he has a great respect for the entire video game world and enjoys watching it all expand as a whole.