Thursday, February 28, 2013

PS4 vs. Xbox 720

With an engaging but ultimately rather uninformative PlayStation 4 event on February 20th, many gamers, including myself, are bracing their wallets and trying to determine which next generation console they should invest in.

I’ve always been an Xbox man, so it’s weird for me to even be considering something other than Microsoft's new console. But, with the limited information that we have about next generation's games, one thing has become crystal clear - being online will be a massive (and in some games, entirely essential) part of the experience.

Traveler's Rest
Destiny, Bungie’s new release has gotten me very excited - the Guild Wars meets Halo look is simply irresistible. However, no online, no dice - you simply can't play it. And this is where my hesitation is to immediately jump in the 720 line - what is the online functionality going to be? Am I going to be expected to pay for Xbox Live Gold on Microsoft’s next console?

Andrew House introduces the PlayStation 4. 
The best part of the PlayStation 4's press conference was that they attacked head on all the problems that people had with the PS3 without mentioning them. Everything was fast - playing with your friends, playing games, everything. It couldn't be farther from the image of the PlayStation 3, with its players dreading system updates and popping in a game for the first time to download the Day 1 patch.

Currently, Microsoft has a subsidized pricing model for their Xbox 360 where you pay $99 for the console and commit to paying $14.99 for Xbox Live Gold for 2 years. I'm imagining that Microsoft is testing that pay model in order to see if it would be viable for the release of their next console.

Some might see that as a scam, but with the move towards online become increasingly prevalent, you're probably going to be using Xbox Live Gold - a lot. And that $15 a month might seem like a pretty good investment for right now.

Right now, Microsoft would need to pull some pretty drastic changes with Xbox Live in order to sway me back to their side. Because the truth is, XBL Gold is incredibly featureless for something that they're expecting players to pay for; with no clan/guild support, the large price tag, and extensive advertisements.

Unfortunately, most of what we know about the next generation of consoles is still in the dark. Hell, we didn't even get to see what the PS4 looked like after sitting through an hour and a half press conference.

One thing about the next few months is absolutely apparent though - whoever provides the best online service will be the more attractive video game console.

News Editor
John Schwartz


  1. Hey John. The future seems unclear for Sony online features. At the moment online play is free but you can pay for added features & a games rental system for £40 a year. Which for me has been a total bargain. Curious to see if Sony start to head down the Microsoft route by having tiered subscription like Xbox silver & gold membership.
    The added features on PS4 like integration with my PSVita makes it my only next gen choice.
    But I've always been a Sony fanboy so I'm biased.

    1. While I wouldn't be surprised to see Sony go down the road of charging to gain access to PSN, or just making some features limited to paying customers, I would be disappointed to see the industry move in that direction. If Sony continues their free online services trend in the PS4, I'd be very motivated to purchase their console. However, if that was the case, it seems like it would be highlighted pretty extensively during the PS4's announcement, which, to my recollection, it was not.

    2. Sony really didn't advertise the free PSN as they should have done. It could really have gained them some sales of people undecided about Xbox360 or PS4 but wanting to play online. I'd hate to loose the free online access but may be willing to pay extra for additional features. When Cloud Storage & background downloads were added I subscribed to PlayStation Plus, which coincided with the "free games" being ones I didn't have.
      Maybe it'll be a price plan system of paying for the options you want to use, like a mobile phone pay plan. £10 per year for unlimited Ustream, £20 a year to access previous PSN purchases by Gaikai. Or a premium package with everything for £70 per year.