PlayStation, Xbox Duel Over Reality Bending Headsets at E3

Hands-on With Sony's New Virtual Reality Headset

Sony Corp. and Microsoft Corp. touted exclusive new video games, access to old titles and reality-bending headsets at dueling presentations on Monday, each seeking the slightest advantage in the fierce rivalry between the two largest makers of entertainment consoles.

Microsoft went first at the E3 convention, held this week in Los Angeles, showing a preview of the next game in its exclusive Halo franchise. The company also offered a demo of its Minecraft building-block title using the augmented-reality technology of its HoloLens headset still in development. The biggest cheers, though, came when Microsoft told fans they could play older games made for the Xbox 360 on the newer Xbox One console.

The move was “a surprise and loved by the crowd,” Michael Pachter, an analyst with Wedbush Securities, said on Twitter.

Sony, presenting later in the day, teased fans with clips from new games in the Final Fantasy, Shenmue and Uncharted series.

Most major video games can be played on both machines. But each company also publishes exclusive titles -- Microsoft’s Halo and Sony’s Uncharted are examples -- and compete for blockbusters by others. A demo of Final Fantasy VII Remake drew the loudest cheers at Sony’s presentation, and boosted shares of its developer, Square Enix Holdings Co.

Andrew House, CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment, told fans that PlayStation users will have early access to the next “Call of Duty” from Activision Blizzard Inc., one of the industry’s biggest hits.

Virtual Reality

The PlayStation 4 has outsold Microsoft’s Xbox One since each console was released in late 2013. Researcher IHS predicts Sony will have sold 34 million PlayStation 4s by the end of this year, compared with 20 million Xbox Ones.

Both companies devoted a portion of their presentations to new headsets that offer a glimpse into the future of video games.

Microsoft had a couple of employees demonstrate HoloLens by playing Minecraft, a game with a user base of more than than 100 million worldwide. Attendees saw a three-dimensional version of the game projected on a wall and rising from a table.

Sony has invested in virtual reality. It unveiled Rigs, a three-on-three e-sports game for its Project Morpheus headset.

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