After reading through the most recent news out of E3, I’ve come to a conclusion. The Xbox One is going to go down in history as the first game console to ever lose the console wars before it was even released.
I present to you, a bullet pointed list explaining exactly how Microsoft has presented us with quite possibly the most epic failure in gaming history.
- Xbox One has DRM for used games; PS4 does not. For anyone who hasn’t been keeping up, on the Xbox One you won’t be able to do things like buy used games, trade in your old games to GameStop, or let your friends borrow your games–or if you can, it will be severely limited and involve some sort of fee, thus removing the entire point of buying used games in the first place. Sony, on the other hand, has gone with the astonishing concept that once you buy a game, you actually own it and should be able to do whatever you like with it.
There are many reasons why I (and hardcore gamers as a whole) have already come to prefer the PS4, but this is probably the most important. DRM has never been a good idea in any circumstances, and typically just causes problems for the people who bother to acquire things legitimately. (Even Steam, which has fairly good DRM, has been known to give me problems at times.) Microsoft also seems completely oblivious to the fact that many gamers just can’t afford to buy new games all the time. Although given how great the outrage has been over the Xbox One’s blockage of used games, I’m starting to think maybe they’re not oblivious after all–maybe they just don’t care.
- The PS4 does not require an Internet connection, unlike the Xbox One. True, for most of us, most of the time, this would be a non-issue. Most gamers probably have their consoles constantly hooked up to the Internet anyway. However, this is still infuriating just on principle. Say I’m spending a week visiting my best friend, who lives in a trailer out in the sticks and has no Internet. I think we’d have some fun playing video games together, so I decide to take a console with me. Can I bring my Xbox One? Nope! No Internet, no games! Do you live in a rural area? Are you in the military? Guess what, Microsoft doesn’t want you to buy their product!
For that matter, what’s going to happen when Microsoft’s servers go down? What happens when Xbox Live encounters issues and every single person who bought an Xbox One is unable to play any of their games? Microsoft clearly hasn’t thought this one through. Sony, on the other hand, is on the books as saying they never even considered implementing such a requirement into the PS4.
- The Xbox One requires the Kinect to be constantly hooked up. This is especially damning considering that privacy is on everyone’s minds right now, what with all the controversy over the NSA spying on Verizon’s phone records, the IRS targeting conservative groups, etc. Do you really want to have a camera and microphone constantly hooked up in your living room, watching everything you do and say–especially one that requires a constant connection to the Internet? I already insist on unplugging the Kinect I have when it’s not in use, for those very reasons. Maybe I’m just paranoid, but my smartphone’s capacity to spy on me is worrying enough without the Kinect added to it.
- The PS4 costs $400; the Xbox One, $500. Seriously, Microsoft? Seriously? You already had all this controversy over your game console, most gamers were already leaning towards the PS4 as it was–and you think you can sell this piece of shit for $500? What the hell kind of drugs are you on?
Granted, the Xbox One comes with the Kinect, which could very well be the source of that extra $100. But, well…how many hardcore gamers really care that much about the Kinect to begin with? How much does it really add to your gameplay experience? The only thing I use my Kinect for is to play Dance Central, and occasionally to navigate through menus in things like Netflix and HBO Go. And the menu navigation is so buggy that I just end up unplugging it and using the controller half the time anyway.
- The PS4 is a console to play games on. The Xbox One is a console to watch TV on. Microsoft has gone down the “all-in-one media center” route. They’re trying to make the Xbox One be the One Set-Top Box to Rule Them All. You can watch TV, watch Netflix, stream music, all these things! Oh, and I suppose if you really wanted to you could play games as well, as long as you didn’t want to buy any of them used or borrow them from your friends.
PS4, on the other hand, is clearly centered around one thing: playing games. While obviously it will have the capacity to do things like watch Netflix as well, that’s not its main focus. The PS4 is, first and foremost, a game console. Rather than making it an all-in-one box, they’re focusing on doing one thing and doing it well. I suppose it depends on what you’re looking for in a game console, but personally, I prefer the PS4’s approach.
- The one downside: PlayStation Plus is now required for online multiplayer. One of the advantages of the PS3 over the Xbox 360 was that the PS3 allowed for free online multiplayer, whereas the 360 required Xbox Live Gold. This will no longer be the case. On the PS4, free online multiplayer is no more.
However, let me tell you why this doesn’t upset me. First of all, PlayStation Plus is an amazing deal to begin with. A subscription gets you new free games on a regular basis, all of which can be played indefinitely as long as you remain a Plus subscriber. They aren’t awful games, either–some of them are actually really good, high-quality games. For example, my fiancé and I originally got into the Saint’s Row series because Saint’s Row 2 was available for free on PlayStation Plus. It’s a great way to fill in your game library with awesome games that you would probably never have spent the money to check out otherwise.
Secondly, while I love that Sony has always offered PlayStation Network for free, the sad fact of the matter is that Xbox Live’s servers are much better. They’re both faster and more reliable. And let’s face it, running fast, reliable servers for such a large number of gamers does require a good bit of money. If charging for online multiplayer will give us servers on par with Xbox Live’s, then so be it. I’m willing to pay that price–especially if they keep giving us all the amazing free games and excellent sales that already come with Plus membership.
At this point, I’m really not sure who Microsoft is trying to appeal to. They’re obviously not trying to appeal to the hardcore gamers–hell, judging by what they’ve done so far, they haven’t even THOUGHT about the hardcore gamers. So perhaps, with the inclusion of the Kinect and their attempts at making it an all-in-one device, the Xbox One is intended to appeal to the masses. Yet I can’t help but think it’s going to fail at that as well. Casual gamers have moved on from the Wii to smartphones and tablets–they’ve never really played on Xbox systems and probably never will. And as for being an all-in-one media center–don’t most of us already have that? Anyone who would have the money to buy an Xbox One doubtless already has some sort of media center, whether it’s their cable/satellite box, their Blu-Ray player, Apple TV, a Roku box, etc. Why would we pay $500 for something that doesn’t give us any functionality we don’t have already?
At this point, Microsoft has a LOT of catching up to do if they want to stand a snowball’s chance in hell of competing with the PS4. Sony has focused on listening to their fans and giving them what they want, whereas Microsoft has taken one of the most blatantly anti-consumer stances I’ve ever seen. Unless many, many things change between now and this holiday season, there’s no way I’ll be buying an Xbox One, and it’s clear that most gamers feel the same way.
Congratulations, Microsoft. I’m sure Sony’s very grateful to you. After all, you helped ensure that the PS4 will be the next-gen game console of choice.
- 10 reasons why PS4 already has Xbox One beat (geek.com)
- Sony’s PS4 just wiped the floor with the Xbox One (bgr.com)
- Microsoft Has Lost the Console War Before It Started (lowdownblog.com)
- Sony PS4: way cheaper than the Xbox One, supports used games and offline play (wired.co.uk)
- Xbox One And PS4 Battle It Out At E3 (irishnewsreview.net)