Analyst: Sony and PlayStation are making a “huge strategic error” by skipping E3 every year

Analyst: Sony and PlayStation are making a “huge strategic error” by skipping E3 every year

Among his criticisms of Sony’s decision, he said:

If E3 came and went this year and you were left thinking, “huh, where was Sony?” you weren’t alone. While many have wondered about Sony’s continued absence from E3 the past few years, few have been more vocal about it than Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter, who has laid into Sony for the practice on a recent episode of his show, Pachter Factor.

“I think Sony is taking a wrong direction. I think they are making a huge strategic error abandoning E3. I think that is just the wrong thing to do, and I’m hopeful that they figure it out and they come back next year.”
“I think that whoever’s advising their management that skipping E3 is a cost-conscious move and smart is just wrong. They’re just dumb.”
“My bias is Sony is and will continue to be the biggest loser at E3 by skipping the show, and I think they really should wake up and recognize that it’s an opportunity for them to showcase their games – and they’re very good – and their hardware – which is very good – to the world when the world is paying attention. I hope they’re back in 2022. Let’s keep our fingers crossed.”
His argument is that he believe Sony is doing this to cut costs, saving $20 million or so by not showing up at E3 in favor of producing their own standalone debuts, but he says the publicity alone is worth far more than that, and that Sony looks bad every time they don’t show up while rivals like Microsoft and Nintendo maintain a strong presence.

You can see that being the case this year, for sure. Sony made waves ahead of E3 with some Horizon Forbidden West gameplay footage, but that was wiped out completely when the show arrived, and Xbox in particular laid out an impressive lineup of games that Sony didn’t have an answer for…because they weren’t there. Nintendo too even got people talking with Metroid Dread and BOTW 2 footage. Microsoft, not coincidentally, went on to set Xbox sales records for the month of June after its strong E3 showing laying out the next year or so of releases.

I followed up with Pachter to ask if he’d give the same advice to other “skippers,” big publishers like Activision and EA which no longer have a fixed presence at the show.

“EA and Activision technically don’t “skip” E3, both are there for investors and both announce stuff when they have stuff to announce,” he said. “Activision does it at E3, while EA has historically held EA Play during the same dates, but at a location nearby, similar to Microsoft.”

It’s a little different this year, because EA Play is a lot later, and isn’t showcasing anything from Star Wars or BioWare. Activision wasn’t at E3 2021 at all, more or less, and determined to debut the new Call of Duty within Warzone itself later in the year. But overall, it does sort of put Sony in its own category.

Sony has skipped the last two E3s now (in pandemic 2020 there was no E3), meaning the last one they attended was 2018. Sony has generally performed quite well during its E3 shows, as we all remember their direct assaults on the Xbox One (“this is how you share your games on PS4”), plus the reveal of a $100 cheaper price back during the console launch era, which helped propel the PS4 to generational success.

The last few years? It’s unclear why exactly Sony shifted this strategy unless it was as Pachter says, to cut costs. It’s not like Sony hasn’t had anything to show with the arrival of the PS5 or big-ticket exclusive games. There have been plenty. But their absence has caused them to eject themselves completely from the E3 news cycle, and they’ve essentially let Microsoft be the fixed “winner” of the show ever year by default, happy to have the stage all to itself. We’ll see if Sony changes things up next year, but they may be divorced from E3 forever at this point. I’m not really sure why, or what benefit they think they’re getting from this, but it does seem like it’s not the best plan after two years of absences now.

The News Highlights

  • Analyst: Sony and PlayStation are making a “huge strategic error” by skipping E3 every year
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