As we lead up to E3, we’ll be breaking down each facet of the console wars as they stand. We’ll break down each consoles’ controller, their features, games library, and online offering, culminating in a post-E3 comparison of the two juggernauts in the next-gen race.
Begun, the console wars, have.
This is a touchy subject. The Xbox One demands mandatory hard drive installs for the games to function, somewhat similar to PlayStation 3 in many cases, but mostly taking after PC gaming that way. It also boasts that ever-popular used game fee apparently, as well as the unclear, but confirmed demand for some sort of persistent online connection. If rumours of that second-hand game fee being full retail price hold water, then the Xbox One will have the exact same barrier as a used games block within it, and that’s a big problem, since that’s a huge advantage that Microsoft just handed to Sony on a silver platter!
Another issue with Xbox One’s online package is that Microsoft subtly, but undeniably said during their presentation in passing that it would support the same subscription model as Xbox 360. This likely means that people will need to maintain a paid Xbox Live Gold membership to access certain elements of the console’s functionality, not the least of which is the ability to play online. Sony hasn’t confirmed whether they’ll charge for online play on the PlayStation 4, but they did entertain the idea of ‘packages’ similar to the Xbox Live model, and have confirmed that their current enhanced membership program, PlayStation Plus will be maintained on PlayStation 4 as well.
Again, this is a pretty easy point for Sony. Sony isn’t being dragged down by the draconian business stance that Microsoft currently seems to have a problem with. The PlayStation 4 doesn’t demand a persistent online connection in any way, and it will maintain a rewards program with valuable incentives. Microsoft made no mention of sweetening the pot with an Xbox Live Gold membership in Xbox One, nor did they address the widespread desire to improve their ill-received Xbox Live Rewards program, which currently has awful payouts with absurd conditions on Xbox 360.
We also don’t know for sure if Sony in fact will start charging to play online. They may not. It seems definite that Microsoft will however. The fact that the Xbox One demands an online connection to play games is bad enough, but what’s worse is that the console will still be trying to gouge online funds for a platform that may have inferior online functionality compared to its competitor in the end, not to mention charging even more money for second-hand games. Microsoft has claimed that people can trade games online in their own private marketplace, but at first glance, this just sounds like Microsoft trying to corner the used games market in a really underhanded way. Perhaps they’ll have more details at E3.
Regardless however, Sony still gets the point here. Their online network seems both friendlier and more rewarding to sign up with so far, especially since Sony has affirmed that the stability and firmware issues with the PlayStation 3 will be gone on PlayStation 4. Not only that, but you can stream games and play them immediately before they finish downloading on PlayStation 4, and that’s just cool!