E3 2013 marked the moment when the next-generation truly began, with all three contenders — the PlayStation 4 (PS4), Xbox One, and Wii U — revealed in full. The Wii U is already on the market (and hardly selling), which leaves a battle royale brewing between the PlayStation 4 from Sony and the Xbox One from Microsoft. Both consoles will be released before the end of 2013, and you can pre-order either one right now. But which should you choose?
Having watched both E3 press events and read reams of news posts, features, and opinion pieces on both offerings, I’m going for the PS4. I may buy an Xbox One in the future, but it’s looking unlikely, quite frankly. Sony has me opening my wallet and preparing to shove my money in its pockets.
When it comes to the PS4 vs Xbox One, here are the reasons why I chose to buy the PS4 instead of the Xbox One, and why I think you should do so as well.
A Broad Selection Of Games
The people who buy games consoles are gamers, surprisingly enough. This may seem to be an unnecessary thing to say but with consoles becoming more like multimedia devices, it’s an important thing for all concerned to remember. While Microsoft was extolling the virtues of the Xbox One as a set-top box for watching television, Sony has instead remembered who its customers are and focused on pleasing them.
There are plenty of exclusives coming to the PS4 within its first year on sale, including Driveclub, Infamous: Second Son, Killzone: Shadow Fall, The Order: 1886, Final Fantasy XIV, and Knack. This list offers a good mix of popular franchises and brand new IP.
Sony is also embracing indie developers in a way that Microsoft isn’t. Hundreds of small teams are working on bringing games to the PS4, with many of these under-the-radar titles being showcased during the PS4 press event at E3 2013 (as seen in the video above).
Used Games Are Fine
For years, game developers and publishers have been trying to curtail the used games market, something I for one have vehemently railed against. Until now, the efforts have been confined to charging extra for the buyer of a used game to play online. However, Microsoft has upped the ante considerably with the Xbox One, and the restrictions are numerous and confusing. It’s clear that Microsoft is taking power away from gamers and handing it to publishers.
Sony, on the other hand, is keeping things clean and consistent. PS4 games can be traded and sold as each individual owner sees fit. Some publishers may still try to persuade you to buy new games, but Sony isn’t enabling them to run the show to any greater degree than they have in previous generations. And let’s not forget that used games have been a part of the industry forever.
It may surprise you to learn that not everyone has a fast or reliable Internet connection. And even those who do may like to play their games offline and without the attentions of friends and strangers. Those people should not be buying an Xbox One, as the Microsoft console requires that you connect to the Internet at least once every 24 hours. If you don’t then you can’t play games. At all. Even offline.
Sony has chosen not to force gamers to go online if they don’t want to. Instead, the PS4 allows you to play offline as much as you want and for as long as you wish. Online functionality should be a choice, not a requirement, which is exactly what Sony is offering. Choice… it’s a wonderful concept that appears to have passed Microsoft by.
This, along with the used games announcement, was one of the key moments in the PlayStation 4 press event, as the reaction from the audience truly showed how badly Microsoft has judged things. Still, Xbox fans who can’t get online regularly have another option… just keep playing the Xbox 360. So says Don Mattrick, head of interactive at Microsoft.
One small negative that belongs under this heading is Sony’s move to a subscription model for online multiplayer. PS3 gamers can play online for free, but PS4 owners will need to purchase PSN+ in order to do so. Thankfully, PSN+ is a fantastic value for the money, with a full year’s subscription currently costing just $49.99. For that you get free games to play every month, and discounts on many more.
You should have some extra cash burning a hole in your pocket after buying a PS4, because its price at launch has been set at just $399. This makes it $100 cheaper than the Xbox One, and represents a marked contrast to the $599 launch price of the PS3. Sony has clearly learned its lesson.
Microsoft is justifying the $499 price tag of the Xbox One by flagging the inclusion of Kinect as standard, while Sony is sticking to offering the PlayStation Eye as an extra peripheral (priced at $59). I’d argue that most gamers have no interest in motion-control, so cramming it down people’s throats is actually a bad thing. This difference in approach also suggests the PS4 is the console of choice for core gamers, with the Xbox One clearly embracing the casual crowd.
Last but certainly not least is an announcement that seemed to elude most people at E3, thanks to the used games and offline-friendly goodness that made all the headlines. The PS4 is region-free, meaning that games purchased in any region will play on a console from any region.
In practical terms, this means that people who regularly holiday in foreign regions will be able to buy PS4 games abroad and play them just fine when they get home. This is another sign of Sony keeping gamers in mind when making decisions about the PS4 and how it will operate.
So back to our question, “PS4 vs Xbox One?” If you can afford to buy a PS4 and Xbox One, then by all means, do so. But for the majority of gamers who can only spend a certain amount of money on their hobby of choice, one next-gen console will have to do, at least for the first couple of years of the generation. It’s to those people I thoroughly recommend buying the PS4 over the Xbox One for all of the reasons cited above.
Matt Smith disagrees, and is arguing instead in favor of the Xbox One. You can check out his 5 reasons to buy an Xbox One over a PlayStation 4.