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.
Like the current generation, Xbox One and PlayStation 4 have many of the same features behind them at first glance. Their visual fidelity appears pretty neck-and-neck. They can both capture and stream both images and video very easily at the touch of a button. They both boast Blu-Ray drives for games and movies. Beyond first-party exclusives, they also seem to boast the exact same lineup of games.
Despite that however, Sony is undeniably at an advantage here. Microsoft somewhat screwed themselves when they clearly bet on Sony having anti-used game technology in their console, and were wrong. Not only that, but the PlayStation 4 doesn’t demand an online connection, period, and generally seems to be a simpler, more intuitive device so far, especially for gamers.
As cool as it is that the Xbox One can multitask so well, it feels like form over functionality. Yes, it is kind of neat that you can interact with the console using your smartphone, browsing the internet, taking Skype calls, managing downloads and tweaking online matchmaking all at the same time, it’s true. The Kinect functionality is undeniably satisfying and cool too, since it makes managing your television package pretty easy, especially with the effortless ability to flip channels with barely two words.
Here’s the thing though; The Xbox One, predictably, is currently suffering from an identity crisis. In trying to be an ‘all-in-one’ device, the console has no idea who to primarily market itself to, or what to primarily focus on for its selling platform. It’s trying to be a game console, a budget PC, a mobile server and a cable box all at the same time, and it’s not succeeding particularly well at any of them so far. Microsoft has plenty of time to fix this, but this is why Sony changed their PlayStation 3 slogan from, “It Only Does Everything” to, “Long Live Play”; They realized that without an incentive and a primary target audience, it’s very easy for their competitors to steal attention away from them, with more clearly-defined incentives.
The Xbox One also seems less practical than the PlayStation 4 so far, particularly for gamers. Yes, it does a lot of cool stuff, but how much of it is essential to the gaming experience? Frankly, almost none of it. Sony, meanwhile, has given clear explanations as to how their cloud, sharing and streaming technology will enhance the video game medium for avid gamers, their key audience. Microsoft said that the Xbox One will support the same cloud and sharing functionality as the PlayStation 4, but they didn’t really elaborate on how it worked in actual games for the most part, unlike Sony, who explained how the PlayStation 4 does this stuff in their games at length.
So, yeah, we have to say that the PlayStation 4 seems like the better device here, at least so far. It’s more focused. It’s more competent. It’s more intuitive. It had no trouble finding its footing with gamers as a result, whereas Xbox One seems to be having a lot more trouble selling itself as a gaming device, and to put it bluntly, that’s not surprising.