If you’re a fan of playing video games, then you were likely glued to the screen watching information crop up over the course of E3. There were a ton of new games announced, some more exciting than others, but the most important aspect for many people was the big reveal of the next generation of consoles. Microsoft and Sony were the big contenders, and as it is with any big name product, both the PS4 and Xbox One were discussed/argued/rumored about at length before they were even revealed. Of course, now that the whirlwind has passed, some may be scratching their heads over what we have left in the wake of this huge event. There was good, bad, and ugly.
The conference was going well; new games, good crowd reactions, and lots of emphasis on on making the Xbox One the end-all be-all for an entertainment system. You could have an unlimited amount of friends, no more Microsoft points as currency (that was a long time coming), and there was a lot of emphasis on being able to play with friends.
The Kinect was no longer a separate entity, but now a necessity. Even when the system is turned off, it will be waiting for your voice. This is similar to having a keyboard that has a ‘Power’ button, but it’s a tad creepier as it’s always listening. Of course, it has improved drastically with this revamp. It can now detect up to 6 people, and can track your heart rate. Again, a bit on the creepy side, but it will be useful for those of us who use gaming as a method of exercise as well as leisure.
The innards are decent enough as it packs 8 x86 64-bit cores, 8GB of RAM, a 500 GB harddrive, and a Blu-Ray player. Keep in mind that 3GB of RAM will likely be dedicated to the OS and apps, so you’ll get 5 for games. The same goes for the cores, only six of which will be for gaming. For this console, they fused a Windows and gaming OS together so you can run an app during your game without worrying about anything giving out.
The new controller has changed as well, looking quite sleek with its matte and glossy black details. There are new analog sticks, a design that will be more amicable to different hand sizes, vibrating triggers, and an integration with the Kinect that will know who is picking up a controller to play. Some of the buttons have also changed up a bit, but it’s nothing huge (still ABXY and color-coded).
Xbox Smartglass also resurfaced, showing that they wanted things to be seamless between your mobile devices and laptop as it will be between the console, Kinect, and controller. This is all sounding pretty good, right? Now here’s where things start to get a little dicey.
It was announced that an internet connection would always be required. Games would need to be authenticated every day, making things very digitally-based, which was not happy news as we all know how spotty internet connection can be at times. Not to mention there are some people that prefer life without the Internet.
Used games were a hot topic, because Microsoft wasn’t being tremendously clear on what their stance was. From the sounds of things, the disc you purchase was no more than a way to let you install the game. Very similar to the model the PC gaming has, but the big problem is that they weren’t presenting it in a way that looked in favor of the consumer. Actually, it seemed like more of a punishment. There was the option of reselling it, by taking it to a retailer and de-activating the game, but this seems like a superfluous step that complicated what was before a very simple transaction. If there had been concrete answers that weren’t awful whenever questions were asked about how this worked, maybe we would’ve seen the Xbox One in a different light.
Of course, they couldn’t just stop there with this massive train wreck. Releasing in November of this year, the price point was $499, which was met with gasps and whispers to all those attending the briefing. Needless to say, Sony was going to have to be absolutely terrible to beat the misinformation and poorly worded phrasing that happened.
Sony was as smug as you can possibly be when their turn came to present later that evening. Their biggest adversary had just botched the show, and they were ready for it. They had made a few bad decisions with the PS3 launch, and remembered all too well what kind of a reaction a higher price point would receive. Naturally, they could kick Microsoft while they were down, so they did. They made it a point to say that used games were completely ok, no motion sensing technology was required, and the price point was $399. Wild cheers erupted from the audience, and Sony patted themselves on the back.
The inside of the PS4 will likely sound a bit familiar: 8 x86 64-bit cores, 8GB of RAM, and a Blu-ray player. One big difference is that the 500GB hard drive that can be removed and upgraded. The Xbox One will allow no such modifications, which deters anyone from trying to tinker with the insides. No official word on what OS they’ll be running on just yet, but I’ll be happy if it doesn’t remind me of Win 8. The controller and PlayStation Camera (previously called the PlayStation Eye) are seeing an update as well. The motion sensor could likely have a go at fisticuffs with the Kinect, but will cost only about $60 (a notable price difference).
The controller will have a click-able capacitive touchpad, improved grips, a headphone jack, built-in mono speaker and ‘share’ and ‘options’ buttons rather than ‘start’ and ‘select’. Overall it looks a bit more curvy than previous PS controllers, which makes it seem…cozy, if that’s possible for a piece of plastic. The console contrasts it quite nicely though resembling an eraser. The ‘share’ button will allow you to stream or upload video of your gameplay, and the ‘options’ one will be the combined efforts of ‘start’ and ‘select’. There is a six-axis motion system, improved vibration, and a light bar which will inform you of various stats such as health status in-game.
Much like the Xbox Glass, you’ll be able to integrate your mobile devices, but you’ll also have the option of tossing your PS Vita into the mix. This will allow you to play games remotely (either via local WiFi, or over the internet), making your games portable. You can turn on your console with your Vita, smartphone, or tablet, but the plus side is that they won’t be hanging on your every word.
Shortly after E3 ended, because they were losing revenue…I mean, hearing from their fans, Microsoft decided they wanted to try and make things right. They reversed the required internet connection policy, and changed it so that discs would work the way they did before. The price point didn’t change as they can’t do anything about the Kinect integration, but at least they tried to improve the situation. Sony doesn’t necessarily have a better system, but it’s going about things in a way that won’t make people go crazy with anger. Was Microsoft headed in the right direction? Possibly, but they took too many steps back to say it was forward thinking.
People are still going to buy both consoles, but which do you think would be the better option?