A reader tries to predict not only E3 2019 but the whole of the next generation, including the fates of Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo, and Stadia. It looks as though Microsoft will be lifting the lid on its new gaming console this weekend at E3. While we may not get details like release dates, the cost, or even what it looks like, the big green curtain will be pulled back on everything else from next gen gameplay reveals, xCloud details, and how Microsoft plans to retake the crown from Sony’s dominance this generation. Nintendo will be unlikely to reveal details on the much rumoured Switch hardware upgrade (although you can never really predict Nintendo) and Sony are completely absent from the event but may play some PR tricks in and around the event this year, to reduce the impact of Microsoft’s proposed two hour mega-show. With predictions for E3 right now a dime a dozen on most gaming websites, I want to do something different. I don’t want to just predict this weekend. I want to go beyond. I want to do something more stupid and more fun. I want to go full Nostradamus and lay out my predictions for the next two years and where I think battles will be fought and won and what I think will happen in the battle for the next generation. Post-E3 2019 and 2020 Playing second fiddle to Sony and effectively admitting defeat for this generation, Microsoft wanted to get a head start on their rival and made a huge, shocking announcement at E3 2019 and stated that the next Xboxes (yes, plural) will be released that year, with the standard version releasing first in December 2019, to ensure their new hardware is top of most gamers’ Christmas wishlists, and their cheaper streaming and streamlined version later in 2020. Microsoft made big promises at E3 2019, with their revitalised ecosystem, and promised a revolution in multiplayer gaming with extra processing power only available on their new cloud service, which is available on both old and new generations. This had people excited and confident Microsoft were on the right path. A couple of first party exclusives that were playable at E3 are released during 2020, including Halo Infinite, which was made available on last gen and next gen consoles with the latter being plugged by Microsoft as the definitive edition. However, despite the laboured sales pitch, it turned out it was. The next gen versions really shone and not only displayed the power of the local and cloud-processing tech but also showed how the Xbox One was creaking on games designed primarily for the next gen hardware. This was the evidence gamers needed to part with cash, and they did. As Sony had yet to release its PlayStation 5, which was due in November 2020, Microsoft was the only option for gamers to jump into the next generation with conventional gaming consoles and Microsoft capitalised on this wave for the majority of 2020. With Sony’s PlayStation 5 still absent, Nintendo continued doing their own thing. Pokémon Sword and Shield were huge hits towards the end of 2019 and Nintendo teased new games coming in 2020, featuring some of its much-loved franchises. This kept a lot of its core Nintendo audience from looking into the green corner. In spring 2020 Nintendo had its first Direct of the year and it was huge. It wasn’t just the inclusion of new Mario and Zelda games coming in 2020 that excited fans, but the heavily rumoured Super Switch was shown and scheduled to release later in the year. The new hardware is slick. It answers most of gamers quarrels with the now ageing Switch, with a better screen, improved battery life, and more horsepower. Nintendo also uses this spotlight to finally release the SNES collection, a vast collection of SNES games including some of its biggest hits from its beloved history to sit alongside its existing NES collection. Meanwhile, Google Stadia continue to hum along in the shadows of Nintendo and Microsoft. The service launches in late 2019 with a host of third party games and a couple of exclusives with modest success and reviews, but never really gaines traction due to confusing subscription models and inconsistent frame rate problems experienced by many gamers. Google persevere through the remainder of 2020 and find success with gamer-friendly features such as cross-buy and cross-save functionality. However, it wasn’t enough for the Internet juggernaut. Rumours of discounted subscriptions and offers started surfacing. Throughout 2020, Sony had been peppering the gaming community with details, games, and features fans could look forward to in November. The swan songs for the PlayStation 4 had come and gone, such as The Last Of Us Part II and Ghost Of Tsushima. With no word on PlayStation 5 editions of these titles, the games managed to sell well, even with Microsoft flexing its muscles with games that made the ageing PlayStation 4 looking like the old mangled cat in the neighbourhood. As PlayStation 4s outsold Xbox Ones in the previous generation by 2:1, Sony relentlessly pushed backwards compatibility during its advertising blitz. With features such as enhanced visuals and load times for the entire PlayStation 4 catalogue, they knew this could lock down fans who had countless games tied to the PlayStation ecosystem and keep them from converting to the green Microsoft machine, if they hadn’t already. 2021 onwards Enter 2021. All three companies had played their trump cards and the battle was on. Microsoft had learnt lessons from the previous generation and was making strides with its first party exclusives. It was also turning heads with its cloud service. This feature added performance boosts and new game play mechanics not seen before and it turned out to be the platform of choice for popular multiplayer third party games. Sony was losing dominance in the market. It wasn’t all doom and gloom for Sony in 2021 though. A lot of core gamers from the previous gen stayed loyal while they capitalised on Microsoft’s lack of virtual reality headsets with the introduction of PlayStation VR 2. Sony stayed true to its morals and didn’t try to redesign the wheel. They improved the overall experience and made it the premium VR experience for mainstream gamers. The year ends with Stadia gaining ground by cutting costs and throwing in subscriptions with 5G phone contracts and wild rumours of Nintendo working on new hardware as fans get weary of Nintendo’s slow and dated graphics and ecosystem. In the end… Microsoft makes huge ground with a wide range of impressive first party games and bedazzles the industry with cloud-enhanced console gaming. The battle between Sony and Microsoft is closer than ever with wins and losses coming over PR missteps and first party game exclusives. Nintendo continues its own path with last generation graphical fidelity and continues to find success with franchise heavy hitters. However, even with their revised hardware, Nintendo can’t compete with Sony and Microsoft’s new hardware and Switch sales decline. Gamers now have higher expectations and start dreaming about what a new generation Zelda game might look like on PlayStation 5 hardware.