Speculation has been running wild on the internet about the exact details of the PS4 and XBone since they were announced.* Yesterday, we finally got our concrete details about Sony's next console and a ton of game news from Microsoft. We finally have a new generation announced and some actual facts are running around the internet. I decided I should make a list of what each console brings and whether or not it applies to me, personally, in the slightest. Let's start with last generation's runner up...
I've had a lot of good experiences on my PS3, don't get me wrong. It just took a while for Sony to make it cheap enough to buy, functional enough to work consistently and interesting enough in terms of the games. Here's what's good about the PS4 so far...
: Sony has learned their lesson from the PS3. No $600, get a second job to pay for it price tag. A reasonable $399 in North America (sorry rest of the world, I know you're getting screwed a bit, but I can't control that).
: Every market has it's high hitters and it's mid-tiers. Take the automotive industry; Not everyone can make a Ferrari. And let's face it, not everyone needs a Ferrari. Some people just need a minivan or a decent four door sedan. Therein lies Nintendo with reliable, family friendly options for people. Sony, however has been obsessed with performance since last gen. The most powerful, the most capable, the most... most. 8GB of superfast RAM and nothing else to occupy it? We're going to see some amazing things on this console.
: I like having my consoles be mobile. My PS3 migrates from my living room where there's an ethernet cable to my bedroom where there isn't. I take my Xbox 360 to my folks house now and again, a place where I can't get an internet connection, and why would I need one? We're just playing Rock Band with the people in the room. I also play a lot of single player stuff and avoid online gaming like the plague, with one notable exception you'll see later. Microsoft's 24 hour online connection requirement could not be more repulsive to me, not because I don't have an internet connection, but because my internet connection has been known to go out. Granted, if I ever want to play online, now i have to pay for it, but Sony has worked hard to make PS Plus worth it lately.
: The indie space has become a breeding ground of new ideas and interesting concepts, and Sony at least seems to have noticed it. PS4 is going to have a ton of support from the indie scene, something that Microsoft has only given lip service to.** Good on ya Sony.
: They make, respectively, good and interesting games. The Uncharted series has blossomed, risen and become a juggernaut all in the last generation. Granted, it was a long generation, but still. Quantic Dream's Heavy Rain was such an interesting, albeit flawed, experience that I cannot wait to see what they put out next, even after the Ellen Page game.
The only real downside to the PS4 is the return of Move and the Playstation Eye, but at least it's not a requirement and something I can choose to get if something strikes my fancy. What really fascinated me about the Sony press conference yesterday was their outright slam on Microsoft's online requirement and game check in policy. I've seen sniping and casual remarks about how much better they are than the opposition before, but this was just an outright, corporate version of "Fuck you." Speaking of the expensive one...
Microsoft, Microsoft, Microsoft... what happened, man? Here's what I'm excited about for the XBone so far...
: I'm a long running Halo fan, not just the games but the universe as well. Hell, my emblem on this site is my Halo emblem... or it was. It wasn't in Halo 4 for some reason, though it's been EVERY other Halo game, stretching back to Halo 2, when the concept was introduced. Such an exclusion is a reflection of what's going wrong with the house Bill Gates built; They've excluded me. It may seem like I'm making a big deal over nothing, but that little graphic was a symbol of the time I'd spent with their franchise. Finding out it had gone really bummed me out for a couple of days. Minecraft is a juggernaut and a time-losing blast of fun. It's Lego with no restrictions and slowly becoming an interesting survival adventure game. The controller, as ever, looks like it's retained the perfection Microsoft reached with the original Controller S, the tiny offspring of "The Duke." Looks like a nice piece of hardware with the joysticks in the right place.
Sadly, those 3 little things don't fix...
I have a feeling the $499 price is so high because of features I'll personally never use. Things like all the TV crap; I don't have a TV subscription or a cable box or a satellite provider. I watch everything I want on the internet or just buy shows outright on iTunes or Amazon instant. The sports stuff; I give less than a shit about any sport you'd care to name... except Griffball. I watch exactly one football game a year by choice, which is the Super Bowl, and I only really watch that to see if any good movie or game trailers are in it. Plus, an excuse to eat junk food with my folks. The Kinect, which has never interested me, I don't care how accurate you've made the thing. I don't want to yell commands at my FPS games, I don't want to use gesture controls on a system with the best controller and I don't want another Steel Battalion.***
: I understand wanting to protect your not insignificant investment in the games you make. I really do. I agree used games can be a problem if abused and trading amongst friends steals away profits. However, requiring installs? Daily and, in the case of other consoles, hourly online required checks? The inability to give a game to a friend without deleting my required install and de-authorizing my console? Retail stores have to register with you to accept trade ins at all? Even Steam isn't this restrictive in their requirements. What all this does is dissuade the casual market from trading games and drives the hardcore people who read about it from even bothering. You're making it difficult for honest people who've paid to enjoy your console from simply enjoying your console.
Microsoft had a real opportunity to capitalize on the success of the Xbox 360 and just plain missed the mark in a lot of places. Other communities may find a use for the XBone, but it's going to become a total leper in the gaming community. It'll never be at EVO with the internet requirements, so no Killer Instinct there.**** It'll annoy people with spotty internet and will completely abandon anyone who can't afford or doesn't have access to a broadband connection. People who get new games by trading in old ones may be up a creek without a paddle if no store in their area signs up with Microsoft. Maybe time will tell a different story, but from where I'm sitting, Microsoft has dropped the XBone right on their own foot.
*Rampant speculation on the internet?! Surely you jest...
**Sorry Microsoft, but Minecraft is no longer indie. It's an empire. Still a fun game and I love it, but it's just the profitable tip of the iceberg.
***Point of clarification, I would love, LOVE, a working Steel Battalion. It would be so cool to have another pants-crappingly insane controller and a working game to play it with. I don't want another Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor.
****Someone please explain how that trailer was supposed to appeal to me, a person who's never played KI before? So one guy gets to hit the other guy 18 or 20 times in a row with no way out or back & forth? Sounds like every online game of any fighting game I've ever stopped playing. Woo hoo...?