There were plenty of impressive and fun video games to play at the Electronic Entertainment Expo this year, but some of the most impressive and fun displays had little to do with gaming. While Nintendo (NASDAQOTH:NTDOY) focused on keeping its ship afloat, and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) clawed its way back into gamers' good graces, Sony (NYSE:SNE) used the breathing room it earned at last year's E3 to begin branching out away from games and creating a well-rounded experience for PS4 users. Here are the three products Sony is using to cement the PS4's role as a necessity for every household.
OK, so the argument could be made that not every household needs a virtual reality device. But there's no denying that Sony's Project Morpheus has caught a lot of people's interest -- it was consistently one of the most packed booths at E3 this year. Project Morpheus is Sony's first real foray into virtual reality; using a headset and the PlayStation Move controllers, Sony lets players dive into their games headfirst.
This is Sony's answer to Oculus' Rift; you'll recall that Oculus VR was recently acquired by Facebook for $2 billion. While the backing of the biggest social media company in the world is no small thing, Oculus (and Facebook) has yet to prove itself with gamers. The fact that Sony is a well-established gaming company, and currently the only one that's taking a serious shot at virtual reality, gives the company a leg up on the competition. While it won't be making millions from this device (which is still very much in development) any time soon, Sony could be gaining a nice lead in this burgeoning industry.
PlayStation Now and TV
The products that really might make Sony's PlayStation 4 a home necessity have less to do with gaming and more to do with making the console a well-rounded home entertainment device. To that end, Sony made a lot of noise about PlayStation TV and PlayStation Now at this year's E3. The PlayStation Now is a streaming service that will allow gamers access to a variety of older Sony games from earlier console generations. Users can stream the games and save their progress in the cloud; no muss, no fuss, and no dealing with extraneous devices. The beta for the service opens up at the end of July, and if all goes according to play this will be yet another compelling reason for gamers to pick the PlayStation 4 over the Xbox One, which has no backwards compatibility.
The more exciting news was PlayStation TV, a device that lets gamers stream games from a PS4 attached to one television to the PlayStation TV, which can be attached to another television in the same home. Thus if the TV with your PS4 is occupied by a family member you simply go to the television with PlayStation TV attached and play your game. The PlayStation TV will support PlayStation Now when it hits store shelves in the fall at a retail price of $99. There's no word yet of which video and tv streaming apps the device will support, but you can bet that Hulu, Netflix, and HBO Go are all very realistic options.
It's clear from the company's E3 presentation that Sony's not afraid to hit its competitors where it hurts. Not only is it going after the jugular against Microsoft, which flubbed E3 2013, but Sony's also fine with going head to head with Facebook and its support of Oculus. Meanwhile, the PlayStation TV makes for an excellent alternative to Amazon's Fire TV, and a lot of gamers will be more secure getting their gaming needs fulfilled by Sony than by the unproven Amazon.
As far as the next-gen console wars go, Sony seems secure in its lead. Nintendo's Wii U continues to struggle, though to be fair, sales of the console system should see a nice little boost thanks to Mario Kart 8. Meanwhile, Microsoft is begging gamers for forgiveness and its lineup of new games for the coming months should help it get exactly that. However, the company is clearly backing down from its strong stance with Kinect now that the device and the Xbox One are de-bundled, leaving the door open for Sony to continue catching gamers glancing longingly at Project Morpheus. If Sony can capitalize on its position as a well-established gaming company with its Project Morpheus, as well as with Now and TV, it'll continue winning this war.
Mark Reeth has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.