7 things we took away from Monday's E3 media briefings

It’s getting late over here on the West Coast. After an entire day of bouncing around pre-E3 press briefings, there’s no shortage of opinions on what popped the most, and what left people high and dry. Here are a few observations from today’s news:

Be glad you’re spending money on games, not multiple new consoles.

Despite the questions about new hardware coming, both Microsoft and Sony quashed that chatter with presentations that not only highlighted current consoles, but really augmented a sense of vision for the next eighteen months.

Microsoft is working harder to make the Xbox 360 a stronger home entertainment hub – but, despite some lamentations, integrating that content into its games – while Sony is taking a “less is more” approach compared to the aggressive and extra-long press event of yesteryear.

Both have some great first-party games, for sure. The biggest takeaway is that you can worry about replacing those systems, those controllers, and all of those accessories a little later down the line than some people expected. For now, focus on saving some cash for all of the games slated to hit.

After showcasing digital games in early 2012, they were remarkably absent today.

Coming into Game Developers Conference in March, you’d be forgiven for expecting Sony to showcase some live demos of PSN buzz magnets like Papo & Yo and Dyad in front of a captive global audience. Likewise, you’d expect Microsoft to flaunt a strong Summer of Arcade lineup that contains potentially great games like Deadlight and fun multiplayer shooters like 5th Cell’s Hybrid. Instead, the Summer of Arcade announcement was relegated to a press release in the nether regions of Microsoft's E3 press kit.

Instead, we got a glimpse into 2013 for higher profile XBLA games. And instead, Sony mentioned its digital games, but then moved onto other things.

It’s a missed opportunity, especially since there’s no shortage of pint-sized games with the potential for greatness.

EA’s partnership with UFC will resonate for years

After years of open hostility from UFC head honcho Dana White toward EA, it was utterly jarring to see him take the stage. Arguably, the only thing that could’ve been more shocking from EA would’ve been a FIFA demo with Lionel Messi trotted out. EA has seen some ups and downs over the years, and some high profile duds (including the overlooked EA Sports MMA), but the alignment of the megapublisher with one of North America’s biggest sport properties will be absolutely massive.

Microsoft has been humbled by consumer choices, Sony hasn't learned yet

Many can argue that Smart Glass is irrelevant to their interests, and that they don’t have all of the tools on-hand to take full advantage of the feature. One of our biggest takeaways, however, was less about how it applies to our personal lives, and more of how Microsoft has become more realistic about pushing its services to gamers.

It’s nice to have the choice of using a Windows Phone or a Windows tablet, but not everyone does. Should Microsoft only reward a few people with their fully integrated approach to making the Xbox 360 a hub of your living room? After years of proprietary shoehorning (and well, look at what happened to the Zune, at long last), the company has made a choice that’s in the best interest of consumers.

Contrast that with the PlayStation Phones making the rounds. There are probably folks out there playing PS classics on a cell phone. And the partnership with HTC could diversify the userbase. But wouldn’t it be nice to load up those classics on another Android phone or on iOS?

Microsoft has realized that its approach hasn’t worked. It’ll be nice when Sony looks into something similar.

Sterling McGarvey