Microsoft Xbox One vs. Sony PS4 -- the fight is heating up over which next-gen console gamers will want. Now with Sony preparing to reveal remaining specs and features for the PS4 at E3 next month, there is a lot of debate over which console will come out on top.
The last few days have been particularly interesting as new details have been revealed about both the Xbox One and the PS4. The new details could be the deciding factors in which console will end up as top seller this release season. Some of those details include price, DRM on games and integration of cloud computing. Not to mention hardware specs, features and game availability. Let's take a look at some of the latest information on Microsoft vs. Sony's next-gen consoles and see what factor scores as a win or lose between the two.
Xbox One vs. PS4: Price
O.K. So one thing both Microsoft and Sony have been pretty tight-lipped about has been price. How much will the Xbox One with included Kinect be in comparison to the PS4, and will the features be worth the dollars shucked out? Let's take a look at latest speculation.
PS4 Price - So in terms of PS4 pricing we really have no solid information about this period. One thing most people feel fairly certain of--it won't be getting any cheaper. In fact, with more powerful hardware incorporated it's likely we'll see PS4 jump in price over the previous model PS3.
Going back to Sony's PS3 sales, we know they retailed at $600 on launch, though truth be told the machine cost a whopping $900 to make. This loss on the machine however is made up through the sales of games.
"The PS4 should be less of a financial burden ... by sourcing hardware from AMD rather than developing its own chips, Sony has saved a lot of money on development; plus the new console's Blu-ray drive is no longer a huge cost, as it was when the PS3 was launching with the then brand-new disc format."
With this in mind we can see where some of the rumors that PS4 will launch at just $400 came in. These rumors are backed by reports from a prominent Japanese newspaper which reported the PS4 would cost somewhere in the neighborhood of YEN 40,000, which translates to about $400 in the US, or £310 in the UK.
As nice as these figures sound, we're still not convinced those figures accurately reflect the price of the next-gen Sony gaming console when taking into consideration inflation and beefed-up specs, but here's hoping. Now let's take a look at what's being said about the Xbox One price.
Xbox One Price - So up until yesterday there was also not a lot of information available concerning the price of the Xbox One, but Sunday it seems Amazon in Germany may have accidentally leaked the price through its online pre-ordering service. If the information seen there is correct it looks as though the Xbox One could cost a pretty penny--510 British pounds to be precise, equaling $775 in the US. If you are like me you probably just flinched a little bit when reading that. Keep in mind this does include the newly redesigned Kinect system, which has some pretty amazing new capabilities and features. Still, no matter who you are $775 for a gaming machine is a bit of a bitter pill to swallow-especially considering the Xbox 360 is selling at just $300 now with Kinect and $200 without.
One downside for the new Xbox One is that Kinect is no longer optional--it comes packaged with all Xbox Ones sold. There have been some rumors that Microsoft may be looking at some form of subsidized pricing for the Xbox One, allowing customers to purchase with a certain amount down and a 2 year subscription to Xbox Live, shaving a few hundred dollars off the top of the price upfront, but thus far those rumors have not yet been substantiated.
Xbox One vs. PS4: Used Games DRM
Xbox One DRM Confusion - Okay, this is probably one of the biggest controversies out there right now. DRM on used games. While Microsoft has taken a long and swerving trail towards some kind of compromise with gamers, in the long run, I don't think anyone is going to get exactly what they want out of this deal, and quite frankly, DRM on used games may be one point that could do serious harm to Microsoft's next-gen console sales.
Early on we thought the Xbox One would require a constant Internet connection and a fee would be required to play a game disc that somebody's already played. After a massive outcry from gamers, however, that proposition was revised to where now, my understanding is, the Xbox One will not require a constant connection. It will though, require a "regular" once a day connection to allow for automatic authentications. This would ensure that only those who have purchased a license to the game are actually playing it.
Well what about lending to friends? Apparently if you have a disc and lend it to a friend, it will work for them, but will be deactivated on your side. Though I'm sure there's still plenty more being ironed out as to how Microsoft will handle used games, one thing we have to keep in mind, as mentioned above, is that these console makers often lose money on the hardware itself. Where their money is made is in the sale of games, but if most gamers are trading or purchasing used games then who is making the majority of the money? Not Microsoft or Sony-rather middlemen like GameStop who sell the used games to gamers. Of course many gamers aren't really too excited about the idea of putting out $60 for a brand new game that probably won't be usable on their next console. As we know, Xbox One has no backward compatibility so in this manner I think Microsoft might take a bit of a hit.
PS4 Used Games DRM - There had been some stir this last week that PS4 may look to impose some kind of used games DRM as well the way Microsoft intends to. That possibility caused such a stir amongst PS gamers they soon took to Twitter under hashtag #NoDRMPS4 or participated in discussion via a NeoGAF forum thread stating their concerns. The overflowing sea of voices lead to a quick response on the part of Sony this weekend.
SCEA producer Nick Accordino, had this to say.
"Humbled by the outpouring of passionate PlayStation fans and their willingness to talk to us directly. Please know that we hear you."
Meanwhile Head of Hardware Marketing at Sony PlayStation, John Koller, added:
"This is why I love PlayStation fans- the passion bucket overflows."
PlayStation fans took these comments to mean the company was backing down from the possible DRM for used games but industry commentator, Geoff Knightly, doesn't' think it's quite so cut and dry.
"Sony, I think, has been seen as this kind of white knight so far that's not going to restrict used games. Based on some of the things I'm hearing, I don't think that's entirely true, because I can't see publishers allowing one system to do one thing and one do another."
What both Sony and Microsoft intend to do concerning DRM on used games is yet to be seen but expected to be fully divulged at E3 in June 2013 at which point many consumers will be making their final decision based off the information shared there.
Xbox One vs. PS4: Cloud Computing
Okay, integration of cloud computing is one way developers looking at the PS4 and Xbox One are saying Microsoft could come out on top here. Avalanche Studios' chief technology officer Linus Blomberg spoke with VideoGamer.com last week stating that, though PS4 definitely features more impressive hardware specs and "raw power," cloud computing could level if not tip the scale in favor of the Xbox One.
The addition of cloud computing allows developers to off-load non-latency sensitive processes to the cloud. This thereby frees up some of the system resources on the console. An example of features which could be off-loaded to the cloud are physics modeling, fluid dynamics and cloth modeling according to Ars Technica. All of these features are CPU-intensive; therefore, relegating them to the cloud could help the Xbox One make up what it lacks in power compared with the PS4.
According to Blomberg, Xbox One's ability to compute processes on the cloud is "definitely an area where the Xbox One has a step up over PS4, and it opens up for many interesting things"
Blomberg went on to say,
"It's perfect for open-world games like ours as it enables techniques to make the game worlds more alive and social, such as persistence and asynchronous multiplayer features ... We are already using server-side computations in our PC hunting game the Hunter, so that's nothing new for us as a concept. But Microsoft's solution may allow us to do this more efficiently and to a greater [extent]."
Of course it's very likely that with Microsoft introducing cloud computing as a new tool in its arsenal, Sony PS4 could very soon answer with something similar. However, only time will tell on that point.
When talking with readers, the two overwhelming points that keep coming back are price, and game availability. In the long run I think these two factors will play the largest role in who wins the console war. E3 should definitely hold some much-coveted details concerning both.
Check iDesignTimes technology section soon as we will continue to bring you the latest details on both the Microsoft Xbox One and the Sony PS4 as they become available.