So the cards are down. Both Sony and Microsoft have revealed what their next console will be and what their respective focus will be. Following the Xbox One reveal, Sony shares sky-rocketed (http://www.nowgamer.com/news/1934607/sonys_share_price_rises_after_xbox_one_announcement.html); gamers near to unanimously slated the new console, siding with the PS4 (see map below) and hilarious technical difficulties annoyed core xbox 360 users (http://www.polygon.com/2013/5/21/4353010/kinect-trouble-xbox-one-reveal). So what happened?
The truth is that I’m not entirely sure. I was left near to entirely bored by the PS4 reveal and was expecting much the same from the Xbox One. Following the Xbox One reveal, I excitedly jumped onto facebook to share my excitement for the new console. I was perplexed when I saw that I appeared to the only person on the planet that had felt that the Xbox One had blown the PS4 out of the water, rather than the other way round. I eventually found 2 friends that agreed with me and were equally baffled, but this had me thinking: what happened? I realise that the rest of the post will be highly subjective, but I wanted to do a comparison of the two new consoles from my perspective and try to explain why I think that everyone else is wrong.
Sony have done with the PS4 that which they always seem to try and do with any technology they produce. Win by brute force. The Sony principle has always been to produce the best hardware possible and through this mantra have done rather well. It may not be obvious from this post but I’ve always been a major Sony fan in all the technology I own, but I have finally abandoned them on the gaming front. The reason I don’t like the PS4 is because it’s the best console. No I’ve not gone insane and started typing gibberish. It is the best games console. It will do what the PS3 did and sit like a king on a pile of super high definition corpses, smugly satisfied with its own display of raw power. I used to think that this is the best approach, consequently I bought a PS3 years before I bought an Xbox 360. I believe that this is why the PS4 did so much better in the reveal as well. It is a console for gamers. There was heavy emphasis on how Sony cared about hardcore gamers and that they could help each other, create a stronger community and even share their videos in livestream (impressive stuff). This is why I think there’s been so much buzz, as it is gamers that will spread the word and if we’re honest, teenagers are far more likely to care enough to vote on “the best console” than young adults. So, as a gamer, why do I think the Xbox One was so much better?
The Xbox One is a console for the future. The reason it wasn’t a games heavy presentation is because Microsoft have realised that the fickle teenage generation isn’t the most valuable market anymore. I read a comment today saying that the Xbox One is aimed soley at 20-something males who own their own home. This is probably quite true. The appeal of the console is the ability to streamline your living room. When gaming is not all you do, being able to swap between a game and tv seemlessly is definitely beneficial. It was only a week ago that I was watching a long show and had my 360 on at the same time. My intention was to play Minecraft during the adverts or when things got a bit boring. This was a pain to do and I eventually just sat on facebook due to the inconvenience of constantly swapping between tv inputs. Being able to “snap” screens would have made my evening infinitely better. Even on the pure gaming front this is beneficial with skype being fully supported during gameplay.
There is of course the trivial yet highly important (this actually made me happier than anything) factor that your Xbox Live profile transfers to the new console. This is yet another key difference, even if it’s not obvious. The Xbox One is combining all of the features of your living room into one place (tv, music, gaming, films) whereas the PS4 is combining all of your online / social life into one place with facebook and ustream being linked to your playstation network profile; morphing your online persona and real self into one being. This is another argument for why the Xbox One is aimed at “adults” (I don’t like seeing myself as a fully certified adult), despite combining everything in your life together for the sake of convenience (adults don’t have much spare time), gaming life is kept separate. This is because gaming is escapism. I don’t want Stefan Woodhouse (yes that’s my real name) to be online, Ranger_Dave_23 is a persona I adopt in order to escape my normal life, it’s an escape from a job (I’m ID definitely doesn’t have my gamertag) and responsibilities
I realise that in writing that I have potentially alienated many a reader. I’m aware that blogs are read by the very demographic I have said that I no longer associate myself with. So I want to emphasise that I’m not criticising the younger generation. Without it the enthusiasm of the gaming community would die out, and that is something we do not need. What I want to say though, is that there is a place for both consoles. I just hope that the public as a whole sees it this way because I want to play Halo 5 whilst swearing at my friends over Skype because I’ve been stuck in a lab all day, unable to practice.
P.s. Sir Mime will be providing a post-E3 assessment of the consoles. As he is a real gamer, expect a very different article.