Part of the experience of being a console gamer involves some element of aligning yourself with a particular brand. Sure, some people might elect to purchase all of the major consoles released in a particular generation, but a staggering majority of individuals tend to go with one particular unit or platform. It’s not as if there’s always a clear-cut choice with regards to which console is superior (or the better buy) either. Sometimes competing companies even become engaged in a heated battle over consumers; this usually entails additional research, marketing as well as figuring out what most gamers actually want and expect. Well, a game console “harvest time” is once again upon us and as expected, the two giants, Microsoft and Sony are both vying for your hard-earned money. The question of course (as always) is which one of them represents the better value?
For starters, in case you haven’t already heard, the Xbox One more or less “got owned” by the PS4 at E3 2013. Where Microsoft had banked on the idea that restricting gamers’ ability to trade used content and required daily online connections was somehow a good idea, Sony decided to extend a hand to gamers, removing such restrictions from their system instead. Having said that, the Xbox ONE did preview an impressive line-up of games at E3 – which seems to indicate that their launch titles are going to be very strong indeed (perhaps even eclipsing that of the PS4’s).
However, one can’t stray very far from the truth for very long, the Xbox ONE was definitely upstaged at E3, and in a pretty major way. In fact, we’ve never really seen such a disparity between competing console makers before. One might argue that this is the first time we’ve seen a major console look so unattractive by comparison. In other words, it’s going to be hard for Microsoft to shake their image as an oppressive institution given what happened. Don’t get the wrong idea though, both the ONE and PS4 are powerhouse consoles that are packed with features, each one would certainly be a welcome addition to anyone’s home. It might very well be that perceptions will dictate how consumers react in this instance, with many people jumping on-board the Sony boat just because it looks more comfortable.
The Xbox ONE
In terms of hardware, there’s not a lot of difference between the Xbox ONE and the PS4. Both consoles contain a Blu-Ray drive, HDMI, wireless connectivity, a 500 GB hard drive, gigabit Ethernet, and of course, USB 3.0. In this regard, it would seem that there’s not a lot of difference between the two (more on specific performance in the PS4 section). What the Xbox ONE really has going for it is its impressive ability to tap into game development and of course, its newly redesigned Kinect system.
First off, this is a newly redesigned Kinect that is able to process more data from a geometrical perspective. It would also seem as though Microsoft wants to make the Kinect not just a peripheral add-on, but an integral part of the console. If you’ve ever played around with the old Kinect system (or perhaps seen a video of someone demonstrating it) you already know just how incredibly fun it is to control the onscreen action using your entire body as a controller, right? If Microsoft plans on adding more games to the Kinect line-up, then purchasing the Xbox ONE might actually be warranted. Similarly, Microsoft seems to have a great relationship with more than a few game development studios. In essence, this implies that they’re going to likely have quite a few more fun and interesting games available for people to play right out of the gates. In fact, it might very well take up to a year or more until we begin to see some really great titles pouring in for the PS4. On the other hand, someone who purchased an Xbox ONE would likely be enjoying themselves throughout this period of time.
In terms of hardware, the PS4 is a tough opponent to beat. While it’s true that both consoles are closely matched, the PS4 has the upper-hand when it comes to performance as it will have 18 CUs which are capable of generating 1.84 teraflops of processing power (by comparison, the Xbox One will only have 12 CUs). For gamers who are crazy about graphics, lighting and sheer horsepower, the PS4 seems like an obvious choice. But the fun doesn’t end there; the PS4 is also equipped with a type of RAM which purports a higher bandwidth. In other words, while both consoles have 8 GB’s of RAM, the PS4 might end up edging the Xbox ONE out, guess we’ll just have to wait and see.
Perhaps the biggest plus the PS4 has in its column however is its more attractive price tag. As indicated at E3, the PS4 is going to be around $100 cheaper than its rival, placing it at a cost of around £349. Needless to say, this alone is going to cause many to move over to Sony’s side, but that’s not the only thing. Microsoft formally announced at E3 that they were taking steps to enact a Digital Rights Management policy which would restrict play of used games, requiring each title purchased by a consumer to be linked with their console / account. Moreover, the Xbox ONE is also apparently going to require daily connections to the internet as well, making it more cumbersome. As far as Sony and the PS4 are concerned, no form of DRM will be enacted and gamers will be free to play offline to their heart’s content. As expected, this felt like an obvious win for many gamers at E3 and sort of turned Sony into something of a hero.
So, which one then?
If you’re a die-hard Xbox fan then it’s going to be hard to convince you to switch sides, and in all honesty, maybe you shouldn’t. If you’re happy with the features and games which are headed your way as a Microsoft supporter, then by all means, stick to your guns. For the average console gamer (who’s looking for value) or the Sony fan however, the choice is fairly obvious at this point; clearly, the PS4 represents the better value. All in all, it would seem like the PS4 has more going for it than the Xbox ONE, and it’s extremely likely that it will outsell the Xbox ONE by a wide margin (speculation, of course). In this instance, Sony wins.