Sony have recently invited gaming journalists from major online publications to reveal what is believed to be their future plans with regards to the PlayStation brand. It is commonly believed that this will include the announcement of the PlayStation 4, but Sony of course have not commented on this rumour.
If true, the news could bring about the next console arms race between Sony and Microsoft, something that should whet the appetite of any hardened gamer.
Judging by what information Sony chooses to reveal at their upcoming event, it may work in Microsoft's favour - it could set the stage for them to claim an advantage by this year's E3 should they choose to reveal their console there instead.
Based on the behaviour of the internet in general, anything Sony chooses to reveal as big news may become stale by the time E3 rolls around - just look at what happened with the NGP and Vita. If Sony are smart, they will show as little as possible but make a few reveals that will keep the press and consumers excited for their E3 showing. If Sony reveals too much, any announcement made by Microsoft, including their new console if it hasn't already been revealed, will most likely be enough to take the spotlight away from Sony.
From a purely speculative point of view, if the new consoles from both companies are launched around the same time towards the end of the year. Microsoft's more recent announcements at that time may be enough to tip the consumer's wallet in their favour. Assuming of course that their new Xbox can live up to Sony's usually impressive specifications and first party exclusives.
Brand loyalty aside, both companies have a tough sell ahead of them, new consoles aren't cheap and the next generation may see them taking a loss on their hardware. Pricing is probably the most important fact for both Sony and Microsoft this year and could very well make or break the launches of their next generation offerings. First party support is also crucial to sell a new system and so far Sony and Microsoft have kept quiet about them as much as their new consoles, though this may change on the 20th of February.
Based on Sony's actions, Microsoft may be at an advantage at E3 2013 but much like their mysterious event surrounding the future of PlayStation, we can only speculate until we see what both companies have to reveal. In any case, this is certainly shaping up to be an exciting year for the games industry and I myself am happy to be here for the ride.