Competition is the oldest principle of the video game industry. Whether it’s Atari vs. Coleco, Nintendo vs. Sega, Valve vs. EA, or Sony vs. Microsoft, it seems that big video game companies are just as likely to duke it out for sales as their consumers would be in a heated multiplayer session!
With the PC gaming market enjoying a renaissance, as Nintendo is happy to forge their own software-driven direction in an industry that’s all about hardware these days (in the West anyway), the most prevalent modern gaming conflict of today is definitely Sony vs. Microsoft, at least here in North America, and some of the PAL territories. Nintendo may have outsold both Sony and Microsoft put together between the DS and the Wii during the previous hardware generation, but even in this generation, most North American audiences have considered ‘current consoles’ to exclusively be the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, as the Wii had less powerful technology put into it.
This seems to be continuing in the new hardware generation, with the Wii U being considered a separate entity in the West, and the ‘next-gen consoles’ being considered to be the upcoming PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Neither machine may have been released at this point, but we at Eggplante are already eager to keep tabs on which one is pulling ahead in the next-gen arms race! We’ll no doubt be re-evaluating the placement of the next-gen consoles after E3, when both are going to have more info divulged about them, but now that both have been revealed, it’s time for the preliminaries!
It’s pretty obvious at first glance: Sony is in the lead. The Xbox One has been received with controversy and rejection from many gamers upon its initial reveal, and the internet is already ablaze with complaints about the new console. Of course, the fact that it charges a fee for second-hand games (possibly full retail price too!), and Microsoft seems to be shifty about whether or not the console demands a persistent online connection, doesn’t help matters. Investors have also made their opinions known, as Microsoft’s stock value has decreased in response to the Xbox One reveal (video game retailer chain Gamestop’s stock slid even more in response to the used games fee), while Sony’s actually gained eight points after the Xbox One unveiling.
Consequently, Sony had a longer and more informative reveal for the PlayStation 4 back in February. They also affirmed that the console would not, in any way, block second-hand games, and wouldn’t demand an online connection. [Editor’s Note: Sony has not come out and said that they will not charge a fee for used games, just that they will be playable. The circumstances under which that will be the case are not yet known, however.] Sony also stressed continually during their own reveal that the PlayStation 4 is very developer-friendly and indie-friendly, being ‘by gamers, for gamers’. Since they wasted no time declaring their console explicitly for ‘gamers’, it’s no wonder that the hardcore gaming community has embraced the PlayStation 4 over the Xbox One so far.
Hold on a minute though! Is it really that simple? Yes, it’s true that the PlayStation 4 seems like a much friendlier device, especially to gamers, but is it truly the better machine? Xbox One may have made some controversial decisions, but it’s still got some great things going for it. It’s no slouch under the hood either!
Thus, let’s take a look at both devices and break down some of the finer points of the hardware and functionality that’s been made known so far. 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.