If you somehow slept through the last couple of days, Sony and Microsoft had their big pre-E3 press conferences. While the Wii U watched from the stands, Sony and Microsoft went head to head in the next-gen ring for console superiority.
Sony left with a trophy, and Microsoft, well, they didn’t leave at all. I think Sony might have killed them.
Over the past couple of months, the console war has seemingly been Sony’s to lose. It’s been week after week of bad news for the mostly forgotten Wii U, while Microsoft slowly and carefully set fire to their entire marketing campaign. It’s been one of the most beautiful and glorious trainwrecks I’ve ever seen.
They started with a reveal that alienated gamers, and followed it up with confusing, contradicting messages about the two most hated things in the industry – DRM and always-online requirements. I imagine Sony just sat back in disbelief as Microsoft dug the hole deeper.
Sit back, however, they did not. Sony was always there, waiting in the shadows, to remind everyone how their console did all the things Microsoft’s didn’t. When Microsoft’s launch crashed and burned for forgetting to talk about gaming (on their gaming console), Sony reminded everyone that the Playstation is focused on gaming. When there was mass hysteria over proposed used-game fees, Sony was there to let everyone know they wouldn’t be charging a thing. When Microsoft created the internet equivalent of a pitchfork-toting angry mob with their always-online rumours, Sony CEO Kaz Hirai stepped out of his Japanese fortress just long enough to inform the public that Sony “had never considered” always-online.
Of course, there was still a lot of speculation circling. People were terrified Sony would implement some kind of “up-to-the-publisher” DRM measures like Xbox had done, and hell, no one had even seen the actual console yet.
Well, now we have seen it, and it is awesome. I mean the look of the console isn’t that important, but I wish the Xbox One didn’t look like something I used 15 years ago to tape Biker Mice from Mars.
Things only got worse from there. Xbox revealed their price point to be a rather staggering $500. It’s also region-locked, which anyone who’s ever spent time living overseas will know can be a huge pain in the ass. Unfortunately, the ridiculously over-complicated DRM system is intact, as well as the used game fees and the requirement to Skype-call Xbox once a day and remind them you paid for your games.
Sony went second, continuing their practice of taking everything the Xbox One does wrong and showing the world how they’ve fixed it. First of all, and perhaps most important, there are absolutely no fees for used games. No restrictions on sharing games. Nothing. It’s like the good old days of the Playstation 2, where you can simply bring your games to your friend’s house and play together, or swap games as you please. This announcement came as all good announcements do, in the form of a troll video:
How can you not want to buy this man’s console?
That being said, this is a really big deal. The freedom to do whatever you want with your games instead of jumping through a load of hoops is quite the Xbox slayer. But that was only the beginning.
No region-locking at all. No online checks or requirements whatsoever. And, to top all this off, it’s $100 cheaper. That’s a pretty significant chunk of money, and I think a 20% discount is going to make up a lot of people’s minds for them.
The Xbox One is like an over-bearing mother who won’t let you do anything fun, while the PS4 is like whoever the hell raised Paris Hilton. There aren’t any restrictions, no one is telling you how and where to play your games, and no one is treating you like a criminal.
Surely the Xbox has some redeeming factors though? Well, it’s bundled with a Kinect, which is about as exciting as a buy-one-get-one free special on toilet plungers. It’s neat and all, but it never really caught on before so I don’t see it making a huge impact now. Not to mention the PS Eye is available, totally optional, at only $60. In case you’re keeping track, that means its still $40 cheaper, and a peripheral you didn’t want isn’t shoved down your throat.
The Xbox will most likely have better multimedia capabilities, which will be enough to sway some people across who care about that sort of thing. Unfortunately for Microsoft, the aforementioned hoop-jumping means that it’s inferior to the PS4 as a gaming console – which is after all what we’re buying.
What about the hardware? Well it’s comparable on most fronts, except for the GPU which is 50% faster and better in the PS4, but since when did gamers care about graphics? The Dualshock 4 is also a whole lot more impressive than Xbox One’s new controller, which has to put embarrassing things in its brochure like “revamped thumbsticks”. Bless.
Aesthetically, I think the PS4 is out in front on account of not looking like it plays VHS tapes. It’s also sleeker, smaller and doesn’t have a camera leering at you while you eat frozen dinners in your underpants.
Microsoft has been touting their long line-up of exclusives, yet ironically at time of writing the Xbox One has 14 confirmed titles to the PS4’s 20. This may change over the course of E3 (and frankly the exact numbers aren’t all that important), but Sony certainly isn’t short on their games offering.
In summary then, the PS4 is significantly cheaper, with better hardware, no DRM, no online requirements, more exclusives, and an innovative new controller packed with features.
Why should I buy an Xbox One again?