Well, once again we find ourselves and the gaming community torn in half between Microsoft and Sony, XBox and PlayStation, as a epic battle of the next generation consoles thunders around our ears… At the Electronic Entertainment Expo yesterday, Sony unleashed its next weapon of mass destruction upon the unsuspecting ranks of Microsoft. It is official: unlike the XBox One, the new PS4 will support preowned titles, complete offline gaming and a cheaper price tag.
But fear not, there is an eye in this storm – let us take a step back and put everything into perspective for a while. We all remember the teaser trailer for the PS4 – “what are they playing at, fuzzy camera angles! Come on Sony!” But what at first seemed fearful and foolish in fact gave them the edge over Microsoft at the E3. All the attention was on the new PlayStation, and gamers were rejoicing in Sony’s focus on gaming (there’s a novel idea, Microsoft), not on the multimedia, ‘please all’ approach led by XBox One, that seemed to cater for an imaginary audience who like talking on Skype whilst watching TV, or playing a game whilst watching YouTube. With the PS4, Move isn’t a necessity, just a nice optional extra, and the availability of preowned games without the permission of publishers, and a lack of an online DRM system, make it more about choice that manufacture dictation.
Now I’m sure there are so many people reading this article who love the innovative, engaging experience of the Kinect – I myself love playing Fruit Ninja with my hands and feet, or using voice commands to control my TV without so much as lifting a finger – but with the new XBox One the hardware is forced upon the consumer, at a cost. Yes, it can measure your heart beat! It even recognises your face as soon as you pick up the controller! And there will of course be benefits to a compulsory sensor, as it would make developing of the exclusive hardware more desirable as the technology becomes widespread, but currently when it comes to playing hardcore games the extra £80 just gets in the way.
That’s right, at the E3 the PS4 was priced at almost £100 less that the XBox, announced to be on sale later this year boasting a £349 price tag. Admittedly a PSN Plus account is required to play online on the latest releases, but just in the same was as Microsoft Sony will offer free content and promotions exclusive to members of their service, so PSN users won’t be missing out.
Sony have chosen wisely by appealing to their audience, people using gaming consoles to play games – their new hardware is looking to be incredibly popular with its lower price tag and less constraining services. It reminds us of the time where we owned our games once we bought them, and could sell and buy them as we pleased, a dangerous thought with present day Digital Rights Management. They haven’t left game developers out either, with even their website plastered with quotes of how the designed their next generation console alongside game creators. Only time will tell who comes out on top, Microsoft with their innovative features and massive community base or Sony with their focus on freedom, gamers and what people want to see… Either way, don’t for a split second dismiss Microsoft from the equation, they won’t fall out of the industry that easily.