Gamescom 2014

Microsoft and Sony go all out at their press conferences

David Verghese

Contributing Writer

Summary: Both Microsoft and Sony go all out to win gamers onto their respective next gen systems through both hardware bundles and software updates.

Hosted in Cologne, Germany, Gamescom is the largest trade fair and event for interactive games. Their main website touts more than 335,000 visitors who attended the event this year in anticipation for all sorts of gaming related announcements.

Ahead of their press conference on Tuesday, August 12, Microsoft kicked off their presence by announcing several new features that would be brought to their next generation gaming console, the Xbox One. One such feature was the ability to stream live TV to your smartphone or tablet using the Xbox One smartglass app, which is now available on iOS, Android, and Windows. Users can also “pause, play and rewind as well as change channels, without interrupting gameplay on the Xbox One,” says Jeff Rubenstein of the Major Nelson blog.

Over at Xbox Wire, Microsoft’s blog on Xbox news, Major Nelson made a new post about these upcoming features detailing the new media player, allowing more file types to be played as well as streaming content from attached USB devices.

Microsoft also demoed some upcoming games to the system, such as FIFA 15, Sunset Overdrive, and Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. These games shall also receive a bundle deal that includes the console, with the FIFA 15 Xbox One bundle exclusive to Europe. Sunset Overdrive will be bundled with a white colored Xbox One for $399 and Call of Duty will come with a 1TB hard drive for $499.

Microsoft sparked some controversy and backlash from the gaming community when it announced on stage that the upcoming game, Rise of the Tombraider, would be exclusive to Xbox One and Xbox 360 for Holiday 2015. Many were confused at the wording Microsoft chose to use and questioned if it was actually an exclusive or a timed exclusive, which would allow it to make its way to other systems at a later date.

In an interview with Eurogamer, head of Xbox Phil Spencer cleared up some of the confusion on Tomb Raider and said “when people want me to say, ‘well can you tell us when or if it’s coming to other platforms?’, it’s not my job. My job is not to talk about games I don’t own. I have a certain relationship on this version of Tomb Raider, which we announced. And I feel really good about our long term relationship with [developers] Crystal and Square.”

Not to be outdone, the big headline coming out of Sony’s conference was the report that they have now sold over 10 million PS4s. They also detailed out their new 2.0 firmware update for the PS4, which includes the ability to upload gaming clips directly to youtube. Sony also detailed out a new “virtual couch” mode, allowing playstation users to host a game on their system allowing their friends to jump into the game. This would allow a new type of online multiplayer with players being able to try games out before they purchase them.

As for games, Sony showed off a vast amount of indie games, as well as heavy hitters such as Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, and a console version of popular PC survival game, DayZ.

Sony also did a bit of viral marketing with a game demo titled “P.T.”, which turned out to stand for “playable teaser”. It was actually promoting a new Silent Hill game known as “Silent Hills” which is being developed by fame video game director Hideo Kojima, known for the Metal Gear series. Kojima is teaming up with horror film director Guillermo del Toro to develop the game. Actor Norman Reedus, better known as Daryl Dixon from the television show The Walking Dead, will star as the key protagonist.

Both Microsoft and Sony had very impressive conferences, making the 2014 Holiday season a tough one for consumers.