Each E3 gives gamers plenty to chew on, and this year was no exception as publishers added sequels, up-and-comers introduced new titles, and a cold console war grew hot again.
Big publishers captured most of the headlines, as Time Warner Inc. (NYSE:TWX) touted Arkham Origins, Activision Blizzard, Inc. (NASDAQ:ATVI) showed Call of Duty: Ghosts, and Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ:EA) previewed Titanfall for the Xbox One and teased Star Wars: Battleground, the first of what could be many genre games under a broad-based license with The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS).
Still tone-deaf after all these years …
You know it’s bad when Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) denies there’s a problem in the first place. (Cough, Vista, cough). But that’s what we had from Mr. Softy at E3 last week: no response to gamers who hate how the forthcoming Xbox One console will require them to log in via the Internet once a day to check for rights violations. No sharing of games with others, either. Or selling used copies back to GameStop.
You can almost picture CEO Steve Ballmer speaking from the pulpit. “Gaming is a privilege, not a right,” he’d say in defense of the Xbox’s daily spying as gamers riot in the streets below. Or not. The picture is what matters here: Mr. Softy casting a pall over a graying, Orwellian crowd of former Xbox enthusiasts.
A perfect setup for Sony Corporation (ADR) (NYSE:SNE) , which responded with an overhand smash of an ad:
Microsoft hasn’t suffered a takedown like this since Justin Long and John Hodgman dismantled Vista in Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)‘s now-infamous “I’m a Mac” ads. How ironic that Sony Corporation (ADR) (NYSE:SNE) threw the punch, since it was the iPod that killed the Walkman. A rumored TV could do even more damage to the Japanese consumer-electronics giant.
For now, it’s the PS4 threatening the Xbox One. And, for that matter, the entire Xbox line.
Not that Mr. Softy is without allies. Notably, EA. Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) touted Titanfall at its E3 press event. More will board the bandwagon as publishers come to realize the Xbox One’s log-on requirement could lead to more direct relationships with players, less piracy, and more upselling of options and upgrades.
Presuming, of course, that gamers don’t abandon the Xbox for the PS4 first. Both consoles will go on sale in time for the holiday shopping season.
Grand Theft Auto: thunder, stolen
Mr. Softy may still be tone-deaf, but the old man hasn’t lost his timing. A holiday ship date virtually guarantees sales will be better than they might be otherwise.
If only Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. (NASDAQ:TTWO) could say the same: The company’s Rockstar Games subsidiary plans to ship Grand Theft Auto V in September, and for current-generation consoles only.
Rockstar probably didn’t have much of a choice. As the developer says at its site, GTA V is a “massively ambitious and complex game.” So even if Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Sony Corporation (ADR) (NYSE:SNE) sent out tools for writing new games to the Xbox One and PS4 months ago, Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. (NASDAQ:TTWO) was probably too far into the development process to do anything other than to keep writing and testing the game for existing consoles.
Sony Corporation (ADR) (NYSE:SNE), for its part, is helping by offering what amounts to a consolation prize: a special GTA V bundle that pairs a 500 GB PlayStation 3 console with the Blu-ray edition of the game. A separate “pulse” headset for experiencing top-quality audio during key moments in the game retails for $179.
Will gamers buy? No doubt. Grand Theft Auto is a multibillion-dollar franchise, just like the Xbox. Flubs — even big ones — won’t keep them from selling both in substantial quantities. But here, “substantial” may not be enough to create the sort of profit growth Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. (NASDAQ:TTWO) investors are seeking.
What surprised you at E3? Are you more or less interested in Microsoft and Take-Two stock at current prices? Let us know what you think using the comments box below.
The article How Sony Stole From Apple, and Other Big Stories From E3 originally appeared on Fool.com.
Fool contributor Tim Beyers is a member of the Motley Fool Rule Breakers stock-picking team and the Motley Fool Supernova Odyssey I mission. He owned shares of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS), and Time Warner Inc. (NYSE:TWX) at the time of publication. Check out Tim’s Web home and portfolio holdings, or connect with him on Google+, Tumblr, or Twitter, where he goes by @milehighfool. You can also get his insights delivered directly to your RSS reader.The Motley Fool recommends Activision Blizzard, Inc. (NASDAQ:ATVI), Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. (NASDAQ:TTWO), and The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS) and owns shares of Activision Blizzard, Inc. (NASDAQ:ATVI), Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), GameStop, Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT), and The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS).
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