What Does Sony's Absence From E3 2019 Mean for Next Year and Onwards?

Sony have decided to skip E3 2019, as you may have heard. I wrote about what they might have planned and what this means for the next-gen.

November 16, 2018

The Electronic Entertainment Expo (or simply, E3) is one of the largest trade fairs in the world, and is an event that millions of gamers from around the world tune in every year in anticipation of their favourite companies announcing brand new titles. That’s why Sony announcing PlayStation’s absence from the trade show this week was a major blow for fans everywhere.

That’s right: after 24 years of attending the event through either press conferences or show floor spaces, Sony have announced that PlayStation will be withdrawing from making an appearance at E3 2019. It’s a crazy announcement, considering their reasons for the decision.

Personally, I think that Sony’s ego is getting quite high – and it’s worrying me. It’s not the first time that domination over the other major competitors has prompted the company to feel above them both in sales and in appearance. And while it may be true at the time, they almost always tend to backfire. Each generation of consoles has had a distinct good and bad side.

Think about it.

  • PS2 vs Xbox – Sony gains ego from PS2 sales
  • PS3 vs Xbox 360 – Sony ego backfires, Microsoft gain ego from 360 sales
  • PS4 vs Xbox One – Microsoft ego backfires, Sony gain ego from PS4 sales

From a business standpoint, skipping E3 in 2019 makes complete and total sense; yet also doesn’t at all. We have yet to know the true reasoning behind why exactly Sony PlayStation will not be making an appearance in any form at E3, but even when writing this piece I still find myself constantly questioning why they would make such a huge decision – and not even announce it themselves.

This story originally broke from an announcement by the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), not even Sony! They couldn’t be bothered to even tell the public of their choice to not participate in the trade fair, they got the ESA to do it. As someone who prefers Sony’s platforms for gaming, it’s getting really hard at this point to keep supporting them.

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Currently, every single decision Sony has made in anything other than delivering exclusives isn’t looking good for their public image. Skipping PlayStation Experience 2018, refusing to allow cross-play between consoles for years before their hand was forced, and even allowing players to take part in a test for name changes which have a risk of deleting game progress, in-game purchases and more.

But again, I cannot even judge them because it’s impossible for us to know the reasoning behind it. It’s a constant out-of-the-loop cycle of torn criticism and hope. So, because we have to reserve judgement before seeing what Sony might or might not have in store for the future, we’re left asking one more question.

What now, Sony?

What is going to happen now that Sony have backed out of the convention? Is this going to be an indefinite decision?

Well, what we can answer is that now Xbox, Nintendo and the other publishers will possibly have bigger spotlights at E3 next year than ever before. I’m hoping to see one of these address Sony’s absence, in a way that PlayStation openly mocked the draconian DRM policies that the Xbox One was initially planned to feature at launch way back at E3 2013.

And just like that, as of writing this, Xbox have posted the most passive-aggressive tweet of all time just after it was revealed that Sony wouldn’t attend E3 2019. Bravo.


So what does this entire situation mean for next-generation consoles and hardware? Well, that’s completely up in the air right now. Developers close to Sony have reportedly told Kotaku that the PlayStation 5 is slated for a 2020 announcement/release, so a clean final year for Sony in 2019 makes some sense.

What about those games?

That leaves the question of which of the main four titles from PlayStation will be making their way onto the final year(s) of the PlayStation 4, and which of them could become launch titles for the fifth main console (or become cross-generation games between PS4/PS5).

Death Stranding

This game is almost guaranteed to be a next-generation title, given the fact that we have only seen a few glimpses of it in the past few years, and the gameplay we’ve seen at E3 2018 was just walking and sneaking. I could be wrong on this, but out of the main four exclusive games that are left in the PS4’s life cycle, Death Stranding is the one that I believe will make it to next-generation before coming out. However, Sony has insisted that it is in development for PlayStation 4, so who knows.

Ghost of Tsushima

Ah, Ghost of Tsushima: one of the most gorgeous games I’ve ever seen demoed in a looooong time. A lot of speculation has gone around debating whether or not this will end up as a next-generation title. It’s very possible, but while chatting with my peers and complaining about this whole thing, reviews editor Logan Moore mentioned something in that Sony’s Shuhei Yoshida has reportedly played the game several times over the past few years, all the way back to E3 2015. That means the game has been in development long before development kits for the PS5 would have been sent out, and surely we’re getting closer to seeing a release window for GOT before an announcement of next-gen hardware.

The Last of Us Part II

Okay, so it’s possible that The Last of Us Part II makes an appearance next year for PlayStation 4. It’s very possible, including the fact that the first title was remastered from PS3 to PS4 just over a year after the game’s launch. Sony would want to capitalize on the cross-gen releases, and we saw a very in-depth gameplay demo at E3 2018, especially considering that almost everything we’ve seen has been claimed to run on a PlayStation 4 Pro system. We’ll have to see come next year whether or not Joel and Ellie’s next chapter will be out next year, or if it may be the PS4’s swan song game like the original was before it.


Come on, Media Molecule: you’ve got this. Of all the titles in this list, the long-awaited Dreams has the best chance of releasing next year, and it’s almost guaranteed to. We can’t wait to get our hands on Dreams, and all the wonderful creations that it’ll spawn (even the inevitably awful ones, too).

To put pen to paper, we’ll hopefully be seeing all these remaining titles come out before the PlayStation 5. Sony continues to claim that these games are definitely releasing on current-generation hardware, and I’m inclined to believe them until I see otherwise: Grand Theft Auto V came out just two months before the release of the PlayStation 4, so anything is possible.

Either way, Sony: you’re smart, use your initiative and don’t blow this. Don’t let the sales get to your heads, remain humble and see where it takes you. I don’t want to be stuck in another loop of what happened in the past generation.

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Ben Walker

Ben was a Staff Writer for DualShockers.

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