This winter season, millions of people will be rushing to stores, refreshing Amazon.com pages and making room near their television for one of the two new expensive pieces of plastic to mark a new generation of videogame consoles, the Xbox One and Playstation 4. For many devotees, though, these new consoles aren’t just pieces of plastic, they are machines that define and evolve the culture of media. The popularity and sales of video games have met and even surpassed those of the television and movie industries over the last decade and video game icons, such as Mario and Master Chief, have become as recognizable as the Ghostbusters or Indiana Jones. Video games have also shown their sophistication and storytelling ability with games such as “The Last of Us,” “Journey,” “The Mass Effect Trilogy” and “Bioshock” during the last generation of consoles.
So now that the video game industry is being taken more seriously, how will this new generation fare with the Playstation 4 and the Xbox One, and which one is right for you?
Sony’s Playstation 4 has been marketed since its announcement as a “console for gamers by gamers” and, as a result, most of its development has been focused on making it the best possible console for people who consider themselves “gamers,” or those who spend a significant amount of their free time playing video games, rather than a general audience. This means that although services such as Netflix and Hulu Plus will still be found on the PS4, they won’t see as much attention or innovations from Sony as actual video games will.
After Microsoft announced that Xbox One would come with a large amount of restrictions, such as a required Internet connection and the inability to play previously used games, Sony countered by saying that it would bring none of these restrictions to the PS4. As a result, Sony gained a large amount of support compared to Microsoft and the Xbox One. Even though Microsoft has eliminated its restrictions, its overall message to consumers continues to confuse and concern many because of the company’s previous stumbles with their recent lack of good exclusives and bad marketing.
The Playstation 4 is also a technically more advanced console. For example, “Call of Duty: Ghosts” plays at a resolution of 720p on Xbox One, compared to 1080p on the Playstation 4.
What really makes the PS4 stand out for consumers among the two consoles is that it costs $100 less than the Xbox One at $399.
Although the PS4 heralds several improvements over its predecessors, it does have its own share of weaknesses. The PS4 will not be able to play MP3s or audio CDs, and launch and online multiplayer now require a PS Plus membership. However, PS Plus has proven to be a good bargain for consumers because it lets subscribers download some games for free or at discounted prices.
Although Microsoft’s Xbox One received a large amount of criticism at its announcement, it is actually a pretty ambitious machine. The Xbox One focuses less on games and more on media as a whole, hence its name. It is capable of interacting not only with apps such as Netflix and Hulu, but also with live television.
When connected to a cable box, the Xbox One can access and interact with all your cable box’s functions, such as rewinding and changing channels with voice commands using the Kinect 2, a camera that can not only pick up voice commands but also track a user’s body. The Kinect 2 camera is a large improvement over the original, allowing users to navigate the Xbox One’s features quickly, and it is more sophisticated than the current Playstation Camera.
In order to compete with Sony’s first party game developers, such as Naughty Dog and Media Molecule, Microsoft has claimed exclusivity to third party games such as “Titanfall” and content on games like “Battlefield 4” and “Call of Duty: Ghosts.”
Despite these differences, the PS4 and Xbox One are incredibly similar. Both operate at considerably faster speeds than their predecessors and are capable of displaying visuals on par with a gaming PC. Besides the large price gap, the main factor that is sure to sway people’s purchase is that the Playstation 4 focuses primarily on gaming while Xbox One focuses on all types of media, including television and social media.