By Hannah Gamache
Junior, English Major
Microsoft and Sony have waged war against each other for generations—generations of video game consoles, that is. With the next generation of consoles due to be released this fall, gamers everywhere are left to make an important decision: To buy the Xbox One or the PlayStation 4.
After Sony’s barely disguised public shaming of the more controversial Xbox One features at E3 2013, the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles, the majority of gamers agreed that the PS4 looked like the optimal choice. However, it seems that E3 provided the slap to the face that Microsoft needed. Less than a week later Microsoft announced a drastic reversal of its game sharing and online play policies.
Previously, gamers would have been unable to play games on any console but their own, which would have killed the used game market for the Xbox and also prevent sharing games among friends. The new Xbox One system would also require an online “check-in” every 24 hours in order to continue playing games offline. Microsoft received a lot of flak from gamers regarding these policies, the latter of which was of particular concern to those with an unstable internet connection. Now, Microsoft has retracted these policies completely. Gamers will now be able to play offline for as long as they want without checking in. There will also no longer be any restrictions on sharing and selling used games.
So what does this mean for the consumer? Which console should you buy this holiday season?
Despite Microsoft’s reversal of the most offensive policies, there are still some issues with the Xbox One. The Xbox One will come bundled with its Kinect camera’s motion and voice technology. While some might consider this a perk, others are a little wary of the privacy issues that arise. The Kinect will pick up voice-activated commands, allowing users to switch between playing a game and regular TV with a single command. You will also be able to power on the Xbox One with a voice command while the rest of the system is off. However, in order to do this, it would be necessary for the Kinect to be on at all times. The gaming community expressed concern that the Kinect is “always listening,” which is, frankly, a little creepy. Microsoft emphasized that you will have the ability to turn off the Kinect, but you will not be able to utilize the voice commands while it is turned off. Microsoft insists that no personal data will leave your system without the user’s explicit permission. The ability to turn off the Kinect gives the users enough control that they should not have to worry about theoretical privacy invasions, but at the sacrifice of the voice command function. In the end, it will be up to the individual gamer as to how they want to use the Kinect technology.
Another factor to consider is, of course, the exclusive games that will be released for each console. The PS4 has a strong line-up of exclusives that include titles like Infamous: Second Son, Killzone: Shadow Fall, Daylight, and The Order: 1886. The Xbox One also has some tempting exclusive titles, including Titanfall, Ryse: Son of Rome, Sunset Overdrive, and D4, to name just a few. There are also a lot of highly anticipated games that will be released on both consoles, like Tom Clancy’s The Division, Kingdom Hearts 3, Mirror’s Edge 2, and Destiny, the newest game from the developers of the Xbox’s hugely popular Halo franchise. Destiny’s release on both the Xbox One and PS4 could mean that the Xbox One will have a little less pull with its usual demographic of hardcore Halo fans. Sony has also emphasized their enthusiasm for independent game developers and will have several indie titles coming to the PS4. Both consoles have compelling titles coming up, and it will depend on the individual gamer whether an exclusive game will be the deciding factor in the purchase of a next-gen console.
However, the decision as to which console you acquire may come down to one important factor: the price tag. The PlayStation 4 will retail at $399, compared to $499 for the Xbox One. A 100-dollar price difference is pretty significant, especially for the average college student. Sony definitely has the advantage when it comes to price, and for many this could be the deciding factor. Overall, both are powerful systems and have a number of compelling upcoming titles, but the PS4 is the clear winner in the price department. If only for the price alone, I would recommend getting the PS4.
Considering the consumer-ostracizing missteps that Microsoft has taken approaching the Xbox One’s release, the PS4 is the better choice this time around. Even with Microsoft’s policy turn-around, the last minute changes to the device were abrupt. Consequently, the console will not be the same final product that they were intending it to be. Sony, on the other hand, has made smart decisions and kept the consumer in mind throughout the development process. I think it’s obvious which console I’ll be asking for this Christmas.
Regardless, there are plenty of upcoming next-gen games to get excited for. Whatever your preferred choice of console, there are some awesome gaming experiences to be had this holiday season.