The Xbox One and the PlayStation 4 had many of their most important details released recently. Most of you are probably just as excited as we are about the new game consoles, but which one should you choose? So much info has been thrown at us, the consumers, over the last couple of weeks including E3 that it can be overwhelming. Well don't worry, I'm going to weigh out the pros and cons for you in a good old fashioned Bro Council "Guy's Rant."
Let's start with the PS4: as an owner of a PS3 I had a couple of complaints, including long loading times for games and a boring UI. Hopefully with faster processors and software tweaks, those things can be addressed this time around. The device itself will be an all-in-one media center, and easy to hook up with HDMI and an optical option for the audio. All the of the game pads/controllers will be connected via Bluetooth, which makes sense since the current device also uses Bluetooth. 802.11 Wi-Fi round out the on-board connectivity for your internet connection.
One thing I have taken for granted until now has been trading games. Since my days with the original Nintendo I could lend friends games and vice-versa, this will still hold true with the PS4 as well, but not so much with the other guys (we'll get to that later). Another change is that the PS4 is going the way of Xbox Live and requiring a subscription to PlayStation Plus for online multi-player gaming. Each unit will also ship with a light bar that will track each wireless dual shock controller, for some Kinect-light like experiences, and the gamepads will have their own trackpads. The PS4 can be used offline, but as stated before will have Wi-Fi ability for the media center aspects of it. There hasn't been lot of info yet on what that will entail, but I'm assuming that there will be much of the same options as now with Amazon Video and Netflix apps on-board. Speaking of apps, there will be an app for iOS and android devices available as well. Possibly something like the well-executed Smart Glass app for the Xbox, but there is still little info on what the app will include. The big news: the PlayStation 4 will be available this holiday season with a price point starting at $399.
Now for the Xbox One: I have had a love-hate relationship with Xbox over the years. I got a little frustrated with the PS3 load times and then Xbox released exclusive games that I had previously loved like Halo, Gears of War, and Forza. So I bought another 360 after my two previous ones had died. I've been a fan of the 360, but can the Xbox One continue that sentiment? The new unit will come with an upgraded version of Kinect, instead of being sold separately like before. It will have some great features like split screen capability and voice commands for the user interface, as well as live TV as part of the media center experience. This is one thing I'm leery on: which cable and satellite companies will this work with? And how well will it run? Will it run through the Xbox itself or in tandem with a companion device? If it's not working who do customers call, Microsoft or their cable provider? The idea seems promising, but the implementation is key.
The Xbox One will need to connect to the internet every day - yes, you read that right, you must connect to the internet and log into your Xbox Live account to play games. Once you do this you have access to play a game offline for up to 24 hours on your primary device or up to 1 hour if you're logged into a secondary device. You also must have your Kinect plugged in in order for the device to work. For most people this will be fine, but how this will work for people with poor internet connections is yet to be seen.
Game trading and used games is another big subject when it comes to the Xbox One. You can gift a game to someone but only give that game once, and only if you've been friends on Xbox Live for more than 30 days. Ouch. I'm really hoping that Microsoft comes up with some solution to selling games on eBay or this one is going to hurt. Now back to the Kinect; for all of you conspiracy theorists, don't worry - it's not always watching you, but it is always listening for the "Xbox On" command to turn on the console. But seriously, if you're a conspiracy theorist you should probably just stick with your bomb shelter and canned tuna stockpile and leave the gaming to us. Oh, and the Xbox One will start at $499 (with Kinect and a controller).
When I started writing this, I was still undecided on which console I was going to buy, but the more research I have done, the easier it is for me. Unless Microsoft unclusters itself, Sony wins this battle so far. I love the Xbox exclusives that I mentioned before, but I can only play the new ones if they make more since it's not backwards compatible. Sony will have the majority of the games I play, including Call of Duty, NHL, NCAA Football, and the Batman Arkham series. Plus, Sony has promised many more exclusive titles this time around. The fact that I'm not an everyday gamer means I don't have to worry about renewing my game license everyday and there is no Kinect listening to me all day. Although I'm not a conspiracy theorist myself, sometimes I like to picture this going down like the scene in The Dark Knight when Luscious walks into the R&D room to see a wall full of screens listening to the city. Only this time, instead of helping Batman to find the Joker, Bill Gates is sitting in the room rubbing his hands like Mr. Burns, with a smile much like that creepy uncle who always wanted you to sit on his lap.
Microsoft has also said "every Xbox gamer has broadband." Ummm, really? I talk to people everyday who live in rural areas with no land-line broadband service, and if they have a wireless service this will blow their data plans in no time causing huge bills. What about our friends and family members deployed over seas in places like Afghanistan? They're not likely to have a reliable internet connection either.
Despite enjoying the Xbox since I went back, I just don't see me going any other way but the PS4. Will I miss out on some titles? Sure. Will I miss playing online with some friends who worship in the House of Gates? Sure, but I haven't played online in months. I'm sure the Xbox One will have people willing to line up and pay whatever price they ask to get one, but unless Microsoft changes some of their strategy, this writer will not be one of those people this time around.