I'll say it now, I don't think either Sony or Microsoft did better or worse than the other. They both took different approaches to their shows based on their existing positions in the market, and they were both successful in what they set out to do.
Let's start with Microsoft. Their position is shaky. There's doubt in their ability to churn out the kind of exclusive content that makes the Xbox One truly worth owning. To quell these fears, Microsoft did a few things:
1. They had Phil Spencer work a bit of his PR magic to wind up the crowd.
2. They emphasized the number of games and specifically how many were exclusives.
3. They showed as many games as they could to leave the impression that Xbox One is where the games are.
4. They put an emphasis on acquired studios to create a promise of more future exclusive content.
It was a solid approach considering the Xbox One is suffering right now from a lot of doubt from critics and fans alike of Microsoft's ability to actually provide exclusive content that sets Xbox apart from Playstation. It wasn't a perfect approach though.
So many games were announced, the actual exclusives were lost in the in between for the most part. New studios were acquired but with no games currently in development as new exclusives. There was very little game play from the majority of the revealed titles. The number of actual full exclusives was still very small, which may be why so many third party games were crammed in.
Microsoft did a lot to restore some confidence, but they have a long road ahead to restore faith in time for next generation, which they've already admitted they are deep in R&D for at this time. That said, this E3 presentation style was really their only choice. They needed to bring the games, and so they did.
Conversely, Sony took a more relaxed approach to their conference. They're the top dog right now by a significant margin, and it has pulled off a lot of the E3 pressure to have big reveals ready and to swallow up major third party announcements. Sony is in a very nice spot right now where they can really focus on their games and let them sell even more systems based simply on how good they are.
With this in mind, Sony did a few things:
1. They kept their conference low energy. They didn't come out swinging with PR speak, and they didn't stop after every trailer to have the developers try to build hype.
2. They had very few new game reveals, and nothing new from their first party studios. Instead they focused on their major games currently in development that had been previously revealed.
3. They kept the conference relatively short and to the point.
It was the logical approach. Sony is at an in between point in their development cycle where their major studios have either just released games, are very close to releasing games, or are deep in development on currently announced titles. They couldn't realistically produce E3 ready megatons at this time.
That said, their conference may have been too relaxed. Securing one or two more third party reveals would have gone a long way towards making the show feel more full, and at least a little stage time to build hype couldn't have hurt. I understand letting the games speak for themselves, but still speaking a bit for the games never hurts.
In the end, I did walk away from Sony's conference much more knowledgeable of what I could expect in terms of PS4 exclusive content. It could be argued Sony did a better job of establishing why a PS4 could still be worth investing in going into 2019 than Microsoft did the Xbox One.
All of that said, the end conclusion is that the two very different shows were just right for Sony and Microsoft this year. They both could learn from the other in reaching a better middle ground between volume and substance, but the extremes presented on each side highlighted the goals of each company well.
This year wasn't a matter of winning E3, but either building or keeping trust. It didn't create the best E3, but it was hardly the most disappointing for either side. We can likely expect a very different E3 next year.