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Sony wins fans, regains cred at memorable E3 press conference

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Jack Tretton talk PS4 at E3 2013 (Credit: Getty Images)

Game. Set. Match?

Sony did something very un-Sony like at its E3 press conference this year: it went into ferocious attack mode, identifying every one of the Xbox One’s perceived weaknesses and exploiting them.

And in the process, it earned some new fans. Lots of them.

The roar of applause that echoed through the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena when SCEA president Jack Tretton announced the PS4 would have no restrictions on used games and would not have any always-on Internet restrictions was deafening. And it only got louder when the company announced a $399 price – $100 cheaper than what Microsoft had announced earlier in the day.

That enthusiasm quickly spilled over to the world at large. Twitter exploded, with #PS4 and #Sony trending worldwide within minutes. Suffice to say, it wasn’t good news for Microsoft.

“We just witnessed the console version of the Red Wedding. Sony sends their regards,” wrote 3D Realms George Broussard.

In gaming forums, many gamers began vowing their allegiance to Sony.

“Somebody just got my money. Peace out xbone,” said user “rtrson” on Shacknews.com.

Gamers also showed their newfound respect for the PS4 by pre-ordering it like mad. Despite trailing the Xbox One on Amazon's pre-order tracking charts early Monday, the system rallied in a big way after Sony's presser.

Part of what made the move noteworthy for Sony was the cold, focused nature of its attacks. The company released an “Official PlayStation Used Game Instructional Video” on YouTube that instantly went viral, skewering Microsoft’s convoluted policies in a terse 30 seconds. Within nine hours, the clip has racked up over 2 million views.

Analysts were quick to give the nod to Sony as well.

"Microsoft messed up on this one, Sony seized the opportunity. Talked about consumer trust. Well played," said Wedbush’s Michael Pachter on Twitter.

In the end, what might be most impressive about Sony’s actions is how plainly the company spoke to consumers. Once very aloof, it certainly appeared to have learned from past mistakes, including the exorbitant pricing of the PlayStation 3 (it launched at $600). Rather than dictating an obtuse set of restrictions right off the bat, it listened to developers -- and gamers far and wide -- and managed to recapture a significant amount of credibility in a few short hours.

Microsoft, meanwhile, badly (perhaps colossally) underestimated how much issues like used gaming and mandatory connectivity would resonate with players. Will that have a long-term impact on the system? We’ll have to wait and see, but with just a few simple sentences Monday night, the PS4 became the console to watch this holiday season.

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