With the plans Microsoft has for their newest console, I wanted to just display the similarities that are happening between Sony’s PS3 and Microsoft’s Xbox One.
About 8 years ago Sony was sitting pretty at the top with their PS2. The PS3 console was not yet available and Microsoft had already released their Xbox 360 console. Sony didn’t need to rush their newest system due to how great their sales were for the PS2 in every country. Microsoft, on the other hand, needed a game changer with their console. They released a year before the PS3 came out so they had a nice head start on system sales. During the early development of the PS3 Sony came up with the idea to use a cell processor based console. This would cause issues with games on their console early on due to the difficulty to program such a console. So the PS3 launched and of course the library just wasn’t there for a while because of this difficulty, yes developers eventually got used to it but this slowed down sales for the console. We also had its launch price at $499 and $599 for its model. This was of course far higher than the Xbox 360’s launch price tag of $399. Sony ignored these problems and seemed to feel that they had the console market right where they wanted it. And so the PS3 has never caught Microsoft and it’s 360 console in sales in North America or Europe.
It’s a story that I see happening now with Microsoft and their One console. As of writing this the system’s launch price will be $499 which will be $100 higher than the PS4. This will be huge at first since both these consoles are actually coming out, more than likely, within a month of each other. The battle for your money begins with the price, and I’m really shocked Microsoft has chosen the hefty $500 price tag. They are including their Kinect 2.0 unit with the machine but that item isn’t really something that most gamers care about. I personally like the media features they have shown so far with TV integration, but most of that could have easily been done with a built-in microphone. If they really wanted the gamers to adopt the Kinect, they should have shown us that it doesn’t cost us any more and launch their system, which is less powerful than the PS4, at the same $399 price tag. This immediately handicaps Microsoft in the next-gen much like Sony did with the current gen PS3 console.
Then there’s the Xbox One’s “cloud computing” feature. While I like the idea of this, in order for developers to use it properly and make their games bigger and better, they would have to make your system be online. This was one of the reasons Microsoft was requiring the 24 hour check in for the console. Games like Titanfall are going to be using the cloud for extra processing power and so I imagine that Titanfall will require an internet connection to play it anyways. Now that Microsoft has backed off their stance on pretty much everything they showed us at the May conference, the requirement for internet connectivity is gone. I see this feature acting more as a programming issue for developers as they will have to choose to lose sales to the people who have the console but no internet connection, or program their game to be smaller and perhaps not get that magical 60fps that I want to see so badly in this generation for shooters. I have to wonder if this feature, which is in the console mainly so they can increase the consoles power every year, will just die away like the great features that I heard about Sony’s cell processor. If I remember right, that had a similar power sharing feature to that wasn’t used as much as it could have been.
In my last paragraph I mentioned the change in stance that Microsoft has just announced. While I’m glad they did this, they started out this new generation by dictating to us gamers what we need. This approach was naturally met with resistance from everyone and has already given them a terrible start and bad PR for the One. Microsoft has to do a lot of wining and dining to the people to bring them back to the fold. Some gamers that I know are completely done with Microsoft for this.
Ultimately, the next generation will be decided by the masses. If you have 5 friends who all get the Xbox One and no one gets the PS4, I think you are getting an Xbox One. This of course only matters if you talk to your friends while playing or care to play along in the bigger multiplayer games that will be coming out next-gen. I know that Microsoft has some nice exclusives, and I’m probably getting that system over the PS4 due to my previous generation experiences, but for a lot of people it really will be up in the air. The next year is crucial for the two companies. If Microsoft can continue to get the developers to crank out the games and exclusives then they may be able to overcome the issues that I have listed in this article. That price point will still be a problem for most though. Really time will tell if they follow Sony’s foot steps and go backward in with their Xbox One.