E3 Highlights: Microsoft and Sony Conferences

By June 16, 2015

With E3 happening in Los Angeles this week, video game companies and developers are making their big cases to fans and media for why their offerings are going to be the best ones over the next year and beyond. The two biggest hardware manufacturers in the business — Microsoft and Sony — held their major media briefings today, and revealed a lot of new details and projects that should get people very excited for the near future, as well as what the future even holds for the current hardware generation.

First up was Microsoft, which featured a presentation that was absolutely crammed with announcements for both new and upcoming games. In addition to new looks and details for previously known titles like Halo 5: GuardiansFallout 4Rainbow Six Siege, and Rise of the Tomb Raider, we also got new looks and footage from games like Forza Motorsport 6Dark Souls 3Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2The Division, and the highly anticipated Gears of War 4. Perhaps the biggest announcement from Microsoft, though, didn’t concern new games at all. It actually concerned a lot of old ones.

When the Xbox One was getting ready to launch in mid-to-late 2013, previous Xbox head Don Mattrick and several members of the Xbox Development Team commented to fans and media outlets saying that Xbox 360 games wouldn’t be playable on the new console. Because of vastly different architecture, they claimed, 360 games were simply incompatible with the Xbox One on any level whatsoever, and that backward compatibility is a feature that would not be feasible on the brand new piece of hardware. Similarly, Sony announced not long afterward that the PS4 wouldn’t be compatible with the games of its predecessor either, but that they would instead “stream” PS3 games to PS4 through a cloud service called “PlayStation Now.”

That all changed today. With current Xbox head Phil Spencer taking the stage, he announced that the dev team had been working painstakingly to make backward compatibility with Xbox 360 titles a reality on the latest console, and it will become a native feature for Xbox One by this holiday season. While all games won’t be automatically compatible right from the start, the team claims that at least 100 titles will be available to be played on the Xbox One when the feature rolls out later this year, with “hundreds more” to follow in the months to come. This has generally been the single most widely requested feature for Xbox One, and this announcement was certainly a welcome one for many fans across the world.

Next up was Sony, who are the developers and manufacturers behind the current dominant game console, the PlayStation 4. One of the major elements where Sony is staying ahead of Microsoft is in promising PS4 adopters exclusive early access to unique content for third party titles. This year’s upcoming Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate will feature exclusive DLC content first on PS4. This also featured a defection, since Activision’s Call of Duty series, which has had an exclusive partnership with Microsoft and Xbox going back several years, but Sony announced today that the upcoming Call of Duty: Black Ops III will be bringing DLC content first to PS4 over Xbox. While most recent games – like last year’s Advanced Warfare – would release season pass content first on Xbox followed by PS4 about a year later, now the reverse will be true for this year’s CoD entry.

Sony also showed off new looks at some of their own platform exclusives and primary content partners, including new footage of next year’s highly anticipated Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End from Naughty Dog, as well as the confirmation of The Last Guardian — a game first developed for the PS3 — will finally be arriving on PS4 next year. We also got a stronger look at EA and DICE’s Star Wars Battlefront, the first new Star Wars game to be released for consoles under Disney’s administration. The gameplay footage showcased took place on Hoth, and looks absolutely incredible for anyone who’s wanted to relive the high-octane action of battles across the Star Wars universe. They also showed breathtaking footage from the pre-order content based around the “Battle of Jakku,” an epic conflict between Rebels and Imperial forces that takes place after Return of the Jedi, which is the source of the crashed Star Destroyer in the second teaser for The Force Awakens.

All in all it was an eventful day, and there are several more left. For more big stories out of E3, keep an eye on GeekNation!


Chris Clow
As a former comics retailer at a store in the Pacific Northwest, Chris Clow is an enormous sci-fi, comics, and film geek. He is a freelance contributor, reviewer, podcaster, and overall geek to GeekNation, Batman-On-Film.com, The Huffington Post, and Movies.com. He also hosts the monthly Comics on Consoles broadcast and podcast. Check out his blog, and follow him on Twitter @ChrisClow.