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Yesterday, the gaming community was enthralled by the conferences put forth by both Sony and Microsoft. Whether you were at E3 itself or you were watching the conferences livestreaming over the Internet, you probably have an opinion on who had the better presentation. Microsoft went first and unveiled a great lineup in games. Sony came second and seemed to win the hearts and minds of gamers and gaming press worldwide. But did one company really have a better conference than the other? The answer isn't that clear-cut, but it is definitely far too early to tell.
Though many people will say that Sony has been the out and out winner of E3 so far, so much so that Geoff Keighley had Jack Tretton do a mic drop on GameTrailers, the gap between Sony and Microsoft’s new boxes isn't that wide. Let’s take a look:
This seems like a non-factor, as Microsoft has been pretty unclear on their used games policy, but, in their press conference last night, Sony said that the company does support used games. However, Tretton clarified earlier today by saying, “The DRM decision is going to have to be answered by the third parties, it’s not something we’re going to control, or dictate, or mandate, or implement.” This seems to be a little backstepping on their announcement from their actual press conference. This has since been cleared up, with Sony stating that this only had to do with online games. It’s may not be as brutal as the unknown or misinterpreted statements made by Xbox, but it is a sign of things to come in the gaming industry. It will be very tough to see if Microsoft can redeem itself for it’s used games policies. They might not even change their stance on them, regardless of the consumer outrage. Only time will tell.
The Games Themselves
In a sign of good faith from Microsoft, they didn't talk about TV, Internet Explorer, or any extraneous features on the Xbox One. They focused completely on games and this gave them a leg up over Sony. They showed off a number of games, including Metal Gear Solid V, which is a huge boost for the Xbox, since MGS had been a Playstation staple for so long. Microsoft also came up huge with its exclusives, showing of Respawn Entertainment’s Titanfall, 343 Industries new Halo, the long-gestating Roman fighter Ryse and a litany of Kinect 2.0 friendly games. Though one could say that Sony showed off a bunch of their exclusives when they first announced their Playstation 4, they were able to show off plenty of multi-platform games including Batman: Arkham Origins and Destiny, two huge games that are sure to make bank for the company. They also stated that there are more than 140 games in development from first and third party developers. Each system will have plenty of exclusives and one can only hope that they’ll be worth playing.
This might the biggest issue for some. In a move that some said was done because Microsoft went first, which was later denied by Jack Tretton, Sony announced that the PS4 would release at $100 cheaper than the Xbox One, at $399. While the price tag of $500 seems like a hefty price for a box that some people think isn't worth it, imagine that some pay that same amount for iPads, which can only do a tenth of what an Xbox One can do. On the other hand, five hundred is still a lot of money, and something that people complained about when the Playstation 3 was first released in 2006. Times have definitely changed, but if the price drops of consoles over their life span is any indication, the Xbox One five hundred dollar price tag won’t be standing for that long. It is just a real shame that we’ll have to shell out so much money for a machine that may not let us do everything we can do with the current machine we have.
Xbox Live vs. Playstation Plus
In a move that may have shocked a number of people, or not that many people at all, Sony announced that Playstation Plus would be a requirement for the Playstation 4. It will be priced around the same as Xbox Live, which currently sits at $59.99. It’s another shame tat Microsoft couldn't kick their Live subscription to the curb, but being that their machine needs to be online at least every 24 hours, then it was a business decision on Microsoft’s part. And, since Sony is following suit, it seems like paying for online services on top of the console itself, as well as internet from a provider, is something us as consumers will have to get used to.
As with all new console launches, there’s an extreme amount of pressure on gaming companies to deliver a product that leaves their consumer satisfied. In this all-digital, 24/7 news cycle, social media obsessed world we live in today, however, the pressure is even fiercer than ever before. The microscope through which we view and critique what works and what doesn't work with new consoles is so magnified, if the consoles were human, we’d be checking out their genetic code. It’s not that strange, however, to think that this kind of scrutiny isn't commonplace in this day and age. The only thing that is strange is that this is the first time a new generation of consoles has emerged since the boon of social media arrived. Microsoft and Sony needed to be as careful as possible when they unveiled their brand new machines, but both of them failed in their own respective ways. In another day and age, this would be acceptable but in the current world we live in, with the current state of gaming, each company and console will be forever critiqued and dissected until the next generation comes along and people have something more to complain about.
Though this is just a small sample of what both consoles will have come launch, it’s really tough to tell which console and company had the better conference. They both have their pros and cons, they both do things that people like and don’t like. They both have their exclusive games and their weird online and used game policies. They both have interesting new controllers; Xbox One’s triggers vibrate while Playstation 4’s Share button and touch screen are intriguing. Both have a similar amount of storage space, USB ports and whatnot but neither have announced any less expensive SKUs. With November slowly approaching, with both consoles targeting the holiday season for release, the console war that has raged since Sega had a console is ever more volatile. Microsoft or Sony, Xbox One or Playstation 4, neither of them really won E3 and only time will tell if either of them wins the console war.