If the Console Wars Ended Today

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If the Console Wars Ended Today…

Let us take a moment to presume at E3 2013, the victor of the Console War is confirmed. It would be determined by the presentation, features, and exclusives. Plus the conferences themselves would provide valid reasons for us gamers to invest our hard earned cash.

Xbox One

Hardware features a custom eight-core x86 CPU, 500GB Hard drive, 8GB of DDR3 RAM, USB 3.0, HDMI in and out ports, and WiFi.

The One

Xbox One console

It uses the Steam concept of streaming games from digital space. You can play the game anywhere; all you have to do is log into your Xbox account. They [Microsoft] want to end disc usage for good and wean gamers away from them. Microsoft believes they are serving a greater good to the gamer. They don’t want people to trade discs in for half the price at a GameStop and limit the losses from damaged discs to the consumer (replacing the disc). However, retailers like GameStop and WalMart have a major influence on the market and consumers are stuck on the mentality of feeling the ‘physical copy’ (discs). Until this mindset changes, Microsoft’s conversion to full digital copies will be a tough road to cross.

There is a general belief in the technological world that discs will be phased out like the VHS tapes. Mobile gaming and cloud storage is the future. This could be true, but remember Netflix tried to go the route of pure streaming and split their services in two? People went on a rampage that nearly destroyed them. At the E3 2013 Conference, Microsoft did not explain this properly before presenting the console; hence why they look foolish to the public eye.

This whole thing about always being connected is slightly taken out of proportion. In order to optimize the cloud service and keep your system up-to-date, the best result is to have an active internet connection. Did you know that Playstation, iTunes and other products stop your access because an update is needed? Lots of people I know are sick of that. This is something Microsoft is trying to prevent and offers a seamless service for the Xbox One. The idea is to have multiplayer not rely on 3rd party servers (Like EA) especially when they crash or disconnect for any reason. It would take advantage of the always connect and cloud service. Yes, you are screwed if your internet is turned off completely. But there is always a risk with investments, right?

Mattrick during E3

Mattrick during E3

[quote]Fortunately, we have a product for people who aren’t able to get some form of connectivity it’s called the Xbox 360…  if you have zero access to the internet– that is an offline device! – Don Mattrick[/quote]

That sounded very pompous. But in truth, he is correct. If you don’t have the ability, then stick with a 360. This article explains in greater detail about the features I have touched upon.

Xbox Gold Members get to have two free games with their subscriptions, which takes a page from the Sony-Playstation Plus program. Granted, Halo 3 and Assassin’s Creed 2 are ancient games compared to the next-gen titles. But a free game is a free game, right? The exclusives look very promising including Ryse: Son of Rome, Minecraft, D4, and Crimson Dragon. Respawn Entertainment surprised us with Titanfall, a sci-fi first person shooter with mechs. They want to bring the epic story telling of a single player experience into multiplayer. Another shocker is Killer Instinct making its first appearance in the next-gen era! Of course, Xbox would not be complete without another Halo title and Forza Motorsport 5.

Prognosis: Microsoft is taking steps in the right direction. It is trying to perfect the Steam model with more bells and whistles. But failed miserably in explaining their vision, if there is a miscommunication going and customers aren’t happy—then it is a FAIL! Also the price of $500 may not be enough to justify its value to the common consumer.

Playstation 4

Hardware features a single-chip eight-core AMD “Jaguar” x86-64 APU with a Radeon based graphics engine, 8GB of GDDR5 RAM and a Blu-ray optical disc drive.

PS4

The Playstation 4

Sony took the advantage of Microsoft’s blunder and seized the moment in their E3 2013 display. Jack Tretton made the bold claim that used games have no restrictions and the console does not need to be connected 24/7. However the days of free online will come to an end when the Playstation 4 releases. If you have Playstation Plus, then you are already set! If you did not sign up for the program, well you have to now. It only applies to multiplayer. You can still access single player games, apps like Netflix and YouTube.  You have to figure the days of free online would end once Microsoft rolled out with their Xbox Gold Program. Sooner or later Sony or Nintendo will follow suit. (Not saying Nintendo WILL do it, but don’t be surprised.)

Sony will launch a streaming library in 2014 called Gaikai. It will be available on Playstation 3 and PS4 in the U.S first, then later for PS Vita. Consider this the answer to everyone’s question of backwards compatibility. We can expect a variety of titles from the PSOne through PS4. So it looks like an overhaul to the PS Store will accommodate this epic addition! But we should be patient, this won’t happen right away.

Tretton at E3

Tretton at E3

[quote]It won’t stop working if you haven’t authenticated within 24 hours… – Jack Tretton[/quote]

You can trade games into GameStop. You can let anyone borrow your game. You don’t need to update your PS4 after being online all day whenever Sony’s Playstation Division sends updates like they had with the PS3.  Also no “check-ins” like the Xbox One. The PS4 Eye is a separate item, therefore it won’t be attached to the system like the Kinect with the Xbox One.

PS4 Interface

PS4 Interface

Another plus that gamers have wanted is here: The share button. It will record gameplay as soon as you press it, save And upload. You keep the feed in your library or show off to your friends. You can stream live gameplay and comment on the fly in real-time. And finally XBM (Xross-Media-Bar) will be gone and a new interface will be presented here. It will feature a newsfeed of your progress in games, your streamed videos and flash those lovely trophies. It almost resembles Xbox Live when you notice the squares lined up together. Intentional, perhaps? Hmm.

Now on to the games! If you have PlayStation Plus, you can carry it over to PS4. Which is a good thing because Sony will have free PS4 games available every month, starting with Drive Club. Other titles are expected to be released including Infamous: Second Son, Killzone: Shadow Fall, Knack and The Order: 1886. The Order is a third person shooter utilizing special weapons against supernatural enemies. it is set in Victorian-Era London using real historical events and locations like Assassins’ Creed. KillZone has been one of many Sony’s solid exclusives for a long time. It looks like they are raising the bar in graphics and game play yet again. Knack is a new platform title which is like Little Big Planet meets Katamari!  You have powers to incorporate into your new body to battle Goblins! And Sony continues to support indie developers with titles like Transistor, Mercenary Kings and Oddworld: New N’ Tasty.

Prognosis: Taking advantage of Microsoft’s blunder, Sony came out swinging! The price of the console is $399 and the PS Eye is optional (unlike the Kinect). Sony is also supporting more indie game titles and has strong exclusives. The only downside is that online will no longer be free. So, it a matter of who can sway the consumer and I think Sony can make a strong case.

[pullquote_left]If the console wars ended, Microsoft would lose.[/pullquote_left] Unless Microsoft changes its stance on used games or the always connected online concepts. Explain why I should pay $499 for the Xbox One. What are the real advantages compared to the PS4? Convince me, Microsoft. I am on board with the Steam idea, but tell me more.

UPDATE (6/21/13): Microsoft sort of leveled the playing field recently by allowing gamers to trade their discs and borrow them at their leisure. Also it will no longer be a requirement to have an active internet connection for the Xbox One to work. I thought they would stick to their guns, but surprised me with this change of heart. Xbox One pre-order sales skyrocketed! So now we have ourselves a REAL console war to begin today. I think if the console wars ended today, Microsoft may have saved its own ass. Very clever.

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