Now that Microsoft and Sony have both made their sales pitches and the smoke has cleared, Sony appears to be the unanimous winner. I’m still not entirely convinced by either company that, from what they’ve presented, that we need another console. All current generation consoles are capable of being an entertainment hub, from streaming Netflix to playing music to streaming the web. Yes, the next generation will have the capability for more realistic and therefore “better” graphics and consoles will have more ram. However, better graphics and more ram does not a better game make; they are not mutually exclusive. Anyhow, let’s do a rundown of what we know to be true about the upcoming consoles.
Xbox One: $499
PlayStation 4: $399
This is a no brainer. Sony seems to have learned from pricing the PlayStation 3 too high. This is the primary reason I bought an Xbox 360 in the first place. I got a 250GB hard drive Xbox 360 for half of the price of a PlayStation 3. This time around Microsoft seems to be overconfident in its hardware and the overall value of its system. Sony is clearly the leader here.
XBox One: Official dimensions haven’t been released as of yet but it is bigger than the Xbox 360 and looks almost twice the size of the PS4.
PlayStation 4: The PlayStation 4 is 10.83 inches by 2.08 inches by 12 inches. It weighs 6.17 lbs. The PlayStation 4 is smaller in most ways when compared to the Xbox one but is actually longer.
Both consoles are going for an angular and austere look. Microsoft and Sony seem to be presenting their hardware in a no-nonsense businesslike manner. The PlayStation 4 looks more futuristic and lightweight in design. The Xbox One is bulky and rather reminiscent of a VCR. This might be intentional considering their concentration on the entertainment market. It is still a strange design choice considering technology is only getting smaller and smaller. Design might seem to be a superficial criteria to compare consoles on but the sheer size may impact how much power they use, and therefore environmental footprint.
- Online Policy
Xbox One: Microsoft has confirmed that while players will not have to be online all the time the console will have to check in once a day to continue gaming. Xbox Gold subscription still necessary to play online and multiplayer.
PlayStation 4: Sony claims players will not have to check in ever to play single player games. Multiplayer will require a PlayStation Plus membership.
The added cost of an Xbox Gold subscription simply to connect online has never been a favorable policy. Players do not take well to having to continue to pay for services Sony gives for free. However, for PlayStation 4 Sony is changing its online multiplayer policy to no longer be free. While, devices today are almost always online, it should never be a requirement. There are parts of the country, city, home, that are WIFI blackspots. No one should be punished for things out of their control, including WIFI availability. This isn’t a big deciding factor for me. I dabble in multiplayer but still do most of my gaming in single player games. Paying for services I don’t use, however, would be a deciding factor.
Xbox One: Microsoft is shifting responsibility of used games and extra charges to third party developers. “Gifting” must be given to your Xbox LIVE friends, and having been friends for at least 30 days. Can only lend games once?
PlayStation 4: No DRM requirements for first party games.
Despite Microsoft’s attempts to make their DRM policies clear they are not. Whether extra charges will be applied to used games will depend on publishers. Lending practices will be heavily regulated to your Xbox LIVE circle exclusively. This is apparently an attempt to strike out against the used games market, which CEOs believe is responsible for diminished video game sales. Sony explicitly said they are not going to regulate what used games players can play, however, they will not have control over third party publishers. So, say if Ubisoft has an extra fee to play used games on Xbox One, the same would likely apply to PS4. Not being a usual participant of the used games market this has little effect on me. However, whenever you start taking away what people are accustomed to, and perceive as a right, you better believe there will be blowback. These policies are aiming for the used games market rather unfairly. If companies are going to continue to make physical discs it is only fair to be able to trade them in. If they want to rid of the used game market they will have to make the switch to digital only.
Xbox One: Built in Kinect; Will be monitoring you while it is on.
PlayStation 4: PlayStation Eye stereo camera peripheral.
Microsoft claims the Kinect will only be tracking you when the Xbox One is on. They also claim while it is on it will only be listening for voice commands. Sony’s PlayStation Eye is peripheral stereo camera that is sold separately. The Eye may function similarly to the Kinect and be able to track and record the player’s movements. The Eye also will have the ability to allow the player to log in with facial recognition technology. Both of these cameras bring privacy concerns with them. The main difference is the Kinect is installed in the Xbox One and therefore inseparable. I’m not paranoid about my privacy concerns but I don’t like the idea of my game console possibly recording my moves and gaming preferences. In light on the recent NSA PRISM leak I’m not sure I can trust Microsoft anymore. Microsoft has allegedly been sharing users’ information with the government since 2007. While they are not alone, they were the first to comply with the PRISM program. This reflects badly on the company. Personally, I don’t want my gaming console to be giving even more of my limited privacy away to companies and other institutions.
As stated before, I’m still not convinced that I need another gaming console. While newer capabilities sound exciting, they have yet been proven to be much of an upgrade. With the information we have now the PlayStation 4 looks much more appealing. Microsoft’s attitude toward gamers and their focus turning away from gaming makes them a harder company to get behind. I’ve long been tired of the console wars and have been drawn more and more to PC gaming. PC gaming is, for the most part, DRM free and there are no console bound limitations. Graphics are better, frame rate is adjustable, and you can play where ever you have an internet connection and a computer. The drawback to PC gaming is the price. Affording a high end gaming PC is much higher than either the Xbox One or PlayStation 4. Still, the price might be worth it in the end to get away from the increasingly invasive and restrictive console policies. PC platforms are also the most friendly to indie developers. Sony is also making an effort to make reach out to the indie developer community while Microsoft is slowly turning away. Thus far, Sony is rightly the console winner. Whether it stays the winner will depend on new information as it is released. While I’m not ready to preorder a PlayStation 4 any time soon, I’ve got my eye on it.