First let's just lay out some data about Sony conferences across the years. here you can see most of the important things shown (I might be missing one thing or another) the actually release date for some major games and other observations.
Killzone: Shadow Fall (nov 2013)
Infamous (mar 2014)
the order: 1886
dark wizard tech demo
AC: black flag
Destiny (set 2014)
The order (feb 2015)
Infamous First light (aug 2014)
Dead island 2 (unreleased)
Uncharted 4 teaser
no man sky
Devolver indies (all released by now)
not a hero
last guardian (re-emerged)
taken king (set 2015)
Batman Arkham Knight
Battlefront (nov 2015)
Uncharted 4(delayed to may 2016)
No man sky(aug 2016)
mother russia bleeds
crossing souls (unreleased)
God of War (reveal no release date)
Horizon (feb 2017)
Last of Us 2 (reveal no release date)
Spider-man (reveal no release date)
Detroid:Become Human (no release date)
Resident Evil 7
Death Stranding (no release date)
God of War (early 2018)
Days Gone (no date)
Horizon (dlc 2017)
Uncharted (dlc august)
Detroit: Become Human (no date)
Shadow of the Colossus (new, no date)
Monster Hunter World (new, 2018)
Marvel x Capcom (shadowdrop demo)
(no Square game)
(no Death Stranding)
So for years the games coverage outlets all over have been declaring sony as E3 winner. I might agree that they show interesting things and keep the fans hopes and dreams alive. But what I've argued before is that we always see Microsoft trying to do something now to change the stakes in the competition but not delivering in the long run. And Sony is always promising a brilliant future that looks like it's never coming but rather comes by really slowly.
I’m not here to talk about Microsoft or this "E3 winner" competition. I’m here to talk about what Sony promises and what it delivers. Announcements like Shemue 3 kickstarter and FFVII remake never did anything good for me. Not a big fan of neither but I understand the importance of that kickstarter. Otherwise that game might never happen! So, good for them but that is a game that we won't see for 3 years at least.
Now let's take a small detour into development cycles. I’m not a developer I know making games is not easy. But let's consider objective facts. A great developer like Naughty Dog with all their merits and support delivered Uncharted games consistently every 2 years in the past generation of consoles. That is saying something! And it took for them 3 years from The last of Us to Uncharted 4. I know at some point they had 2 teams so while one worked on U3 the other worked on TLoU. But for U4 it was main team or perhaps even both teams at times working on it. I’m not gonna dive deep here let's move on. Guerrilla took 5 years to deliver Killzone 2 on the PS3. Surely the over complex new hardware and that “fake trailer” story made them spend a lot of time trying to reach that. But then Shadowfall arrived on the PS4 just 2 years later. And 3 years later they shipped a totally different and amazing game like Horizon, not a sequel. Suckerpunch took 2 years between Infamous 1 and 2 than 3 years for this gen's Second Son. Well those are pretty amazing first party games and I guess we can agree that with a steady support 3 years is a good development time for games this generation. You might take a bit more for the extra polish or a bit less if your sequel isn't that much different (which is the case for annual franchises).
With that in mind let’s dive back. if 3 years is a good time that would mean that Shemue 3 should/could release next year. So it would be good to show something this year. No show? means it's a bit far away than the average expectations. Talking about average expectation Sony Santa Monica is taking 5 years to release the new God of War! if indeed ships early next year. Better be a heck of a huge and polished game. Taking way too long rarely means more quality. It usually means some problem during development. Let's hope this is not the case here. Also knowing Square Enix announced FFVII remake even before FFXV was released and having take close to 10 years to accomplish that meanwhile Kingdom Hearts fans are waiting 15 years for a true sequel! It’s kinda.... well you just have to take it with as much salt as you can! Square at this point is almost releasing one new game for every 2 generations of consoles! Jokes aside stop announcing things while older titles are not yet released! But anyway that is not Sony. Another topic for another time.
Now besides development another factor to take into consideration is the reveal moment. I believe Horizon and now GoW are on the right path. first E3 reveal with gameplay. second E3 more in depth gameplay and release date. Finally don’t miss that release date. The optimal way for me would be show only at one E3 than release like Infamous and many 3rd party games. But to build up hype two E3 shows are the most you can get before interest starts to decrease and fear starts to poison the hearts of fans. This is why show Shemue 3, FFVII remake, Death Stranding, The Last of Us part 2 and Detroit: Became Human so early is bad for everybody. Keep your cards close to your chest. None of those are close to release. Some might not even get here in time for this generation of consoles! But again with the 3 years in mind some 3rd party are already delivering theirs second game this generation. Thinking about that, Suckerpunch comes to mind. Second Son released the same year as Shadow of Mordor 3 years ago. Shadow of War is coming this october so I thought this would be the moment to see something new from Suckerpunch. Everybody is talking about a new IP but I personally was hoping for a new Infamous maybe online maybe a Cole return. Anyway no show for them. A bit disappointing. But let's keep in mind that Sony might be keeping a few secrets for the PSX. Now that they have this show for a couple years now it's time to show more interesting stuff on it? Maybe they are saving the best for latter?
Anyways, in this generation Sony have been releasing just one meaningful first party game per year. Last year was the only exception while it released 3 exclusives, the 10 year long waited Last Guardian and the indie turned AAA No man's Sky. Both could never live up to the hype. Just don’t show them way to early! We are getting great games but at a slower pace. What also gives us the impression that sony exclusive are always far away is the fact that they mostly release them in the beginning of the year. Meaning during E3 we get release dates for next year and that leave us a bit salty. But it's kinda smart to avoid crowded holydays and find an empty spot where your game can shine even brighter. Last Guardian sure was drowned by an amazing collection of 3rd party games including FFXV. While Horizon and U4 launched almost with no competition.
Sony exclusives by release date
2013 Killzone: Shadow Fall (nov. launch tittle for the PS4)
2014 Infamous (mar)
2015 The Order: 1886 (feb), Until Dawn (aug)
2016 Uncharted 4 (may) , No man´s Sky , The Last Guardian (all delayed several times)
2017 Horizon: Zero Dawn (feb)
2018 God of War (may?)
2019 Spider-man ? Detroit ?
2020 Death Stranding ?
Novelty is also important. Horizon was so new and different when it was shown. We are flooded by games that are so alike these days. Shooters, space shooters, some things and aesthetics just squash them all together in our heads. looking at those armors, Halo, Mass Effect, Destiny, Anthem, could all be from the same game. Not that I don't like that style or the little things that put them apart. But it's nice to see something really different and cool. Not only in visuals but specially in gameplay. Infamous was that stand out now Horizon is that. But it was revealed 2 years ago. Nothing really new or outstanding happening for Sony on those conferences. Last 2 years were focused on the same games, GoW, Spider-man, Detroit: Become Human and Days Gone. All great, but zombie genre is super saturated right now. GoW looks great, but Sipider-man looked far away and actually didn't blow my mind. Everything there I had already saw in similar, recent, bad(or just ok) spider-man games. As for Detroit.. well interactive movies are not games to me. Pretty interesting experience but I’m still waiting the time when that kind of deep choice and consequence will meet up a game with actual gameplay mechanics. Also no indies shown those last 2 years. maybe it was time to put some indies in the show to distract from the lack of novelty and still lack of close release dates. But not even that. No indies. Wild, is still a no show. At least Rime was released. But not thanks to Sony. Next E3 we might not see Kratos which is good, but Spider-man and Days Gone don't look close to release and they will start to enter in that bad place beyond a 3rd E3 show.
That being said I don't think Sony's presentation was weaker this year by the same reasons most people do. E3 2015 was great to me because Horizon's reveal, not Shemue or FFVII remake. on E3 2016 showed a bunch of new interesting game but none even had a release date with the exception of Horizon (and 3rd party games). And this year we lead with the same bunch and just a couple of new ones. Again no release dates except for GoW. It’s hard to judge. Sony keep giving us amazing games and that is what metter. But is six year for a GoW reasonable? I called the date for february 2018 than I saw rumors that it would release this year still. I was really happy and hopeful. Wish I had been wrong.
All things considered, I would have to say that the game of the show for me was Monster Hunter World! I always liked the concept but not so much the execution of this game. Played one of those on PSP back in the day. I stood by and watched from a far as this franchise continued to grow and evolve on other devices and territories. West never got that MH Online. Consoles were not getting any MH love either. But “gameplaywise” the game was looking every time more and more compelling. So many new dynamics and action options. All that culminating finally with MH Worlds. Coming to consoles, coming to the west, world-wide simultaneous release. Pretty exciting! To me what metter most in games are gameplay. When I see new gameplay mechanics that I know are not QTEs or cinematics I get really pumped. MHW and Anthem are the games of E3 2017 for me because both have shown things I never saw in actual gameplay or at least not done so well. Anthem was revealed at Microsoft press conference but I was sure relieved that it wasn't an exclusive. I guess we can not complain about the pace games are being delivered to us. While some get delayed others get released. While some are cancelled others are published. Unless you have and Xbone. Than “all your games are belong to” cancelled!