Please note that the following article expresses the opinion of author.
After the announcement of the Xbox One at Microsoft’s recent revelation event, gamers around the world now have a better insight into what the 8th generation gaming console market is shaping up to be. Many gamers and households want to pick which system is right for them and their friends and families, the sort of single console syndrome that has ignited and fuelled the passion of console wars since the very beginning of digital time. With all of the major power players in the console gaming market lined up against one another, it’s difficult not to start drawing comparisons and creating mental pros and cons lists.
Let’s take a look at what we’ve got on offer: Microsoft’s rather confusingly named Xbox One; Sony’s rather predictably named Playstation 4, and Nintendo’s siren sounding named WiiU (if you don’t get it, trying saying it out loud three times). It’s no longer the PSWii60 wars folks. The newest battle in the console wars will be One4U, and in the current market, the disparity and differences offered by each console maker is greater than ever. In this opinion piece, I’m going to take a look at the major glaring ups and downs of each respective system so you readers out there might be better able to pick the right “One 4 U”.
MICROSOFT: XBOX ONE
Let’s start with the newest elephant in the room: The Xbox One. Now, I’m an avid fan of Microsoft gaming, both PC and Xbox. I love, absolutely LOVE my Xbox 360. The 360 was my system of choice for multi-platform releases and featured some of my favourite franchises such as Halo and Left 4 Dead, and was the springboard that launched other great games like Mass Effect and Saints Row into their relative success (before being ported across to other systems for their popularity.) The media centre was a nice little bonus touch to the console, able to play dvds and manage music while in game. I loved the east system link capability, large co-op library, the Live Arcade and pretty much everything about it.
The Xbox One on the other hand seems to deliver so much less of what I loved, as far as their recent announcements have been concerned. Sufficed to say this console announcement was the most disappointing one of all three. Even calling this a “console” announcement seems a bit farfetched. Microsoft’s new “Set-top box” announcement would have been a better way to describe it, thanks to the lack of gaming based features and an almost entire focus on the “living room revolution.” The release has been plagued by speculation and rumors regarding not only the console itself, but numerous questionable business strategies adopted for this new generation. The “television” focus rather than games; the lack of backwards compatibility; the Kinect requirement and most concerning of all: the ‘used’ game fee.
The delivery of the announcement was weak, only showing off the annual EA sports re-releases, Forza, Call of Duty and Quantum Break. All of which were games we KNEW were coming already. I can’t help but feel their extensive marketing of sports to gamers, (a notoriously exercise resistant demographic), was a waste of good presentation time that could have showed us some of these other supposed exclusives. Microsoft has stated that they have 15 exclusives lined up for initial launch, but no word on WHAT they are has yet been given. The return of the dreaded Kinect was met with collective fan groans. And while I do feel that the implementation of voice control in gaming has good potential, the motion control element is really something they should have left behind, no matter how much they say its been “refined”. The first one should have been refined before it was released in the first place!
This is not to say that the Xbox One is entirely devoid of positive notes. The expanded memory and friends list sizes are most certainly a boon, as are the DVD and Blu-Ray player. But based on what the “highlights” of the console are so far, the XB1 has a LOT of convincing to do, not just for me, but for the entire gaming community as a whole. In the end, Microsoft’s real test will be E3 this year. If they aren’t able to pull out and show us something genuinely impressive, and keep the focus on the hard-core gaming fans that made it an icon, then this console project might be killed before it even begins. I can only speak for myself Microsoft, but come E3, if the focus is off the games, then you will lose a fan. Myself, and many others who have faithfully played your games and bought your products for the last 12 years because of what a great GAMING system you built… Call it the “evolution of the entertainment” all you want, it will not detract from the fact many members of your community can’t help but feel a betrayed by this new approach.
SONY: PLAYSTATION 4
Next on the chopping block is the Playstation 4, Sony’s entrant into the modern market. While significantly more focused on games in their console announcement, their business strategy and associated gimmicks were as predictable as most of us expected from Sony. It was pretty obvious that they’ve retrained their identity as a hardware company first and foremost. Like the XB1, the PS4 will NOT have backwards compatibility support, though the Blu-Ray player and controller design remained pretty much the same.
As much I as tended to consider the Playstation 3 “The enemy” as an Xbox360 advocate, I have to give credit where it’s due: Sony did a decent job of their console announcement in that it focused on what Microsoft should have: the games. Numerous game announcements and having the presentation essentially swipe Bungie away from Microsoft was a strong way to get the public excited about the PS4’s potential. However, they weren’t flawless. A good proportion of the presentation was spent spruiking the PSVita, which hasn’t proven very successful, and the machine itself was a no-show. While it’s understandable that some of the specific details are time sensitive, the announcement still got a generally negative reaction from investors and the community. Another detail to note is that they STILL refuse to let the PS Move gimmick die. It’s a feature that isn’t even popular on the Wii anymore, so its future potential is liable to be even more limited and even less successful than on the PS3. The reality is that many of us in the gaming market aren’t into the motion control thing anymore.
Sony’s major downfall with the Playstation 4 is its lack of originality. The name aside, the console really offers nothing new that the PS3 didn’t have already: gameplay experience, Blu-ray/dvd drive, online support, etc. Of course there are the standard processor and hardware upgrades, but the only thing that really was added to the gameplay formula was the controller touchpad, al la the Vita, a gimmick which many feel will easily fall by the wayside once the system is released. If you already have a PS3, the appeal of the features of the PS4 are likely to be limited, considering that they can by-and-large do the same things. However, with a comparatively large library of exclusive titles under their belt, Sony really has the potential to push forward franchises like Uncharted and Infamous into the next generation with hopefully pleasing results.
When the system and its line-up was first announced, I was dubious, and told myself that this would probably be the first time in my life I would NOT buy a Nintendo console. “The Wii-U?!?” I thought to myself many a time. Not only that a terrible name, but its just going to confuse legions of stupid people about the console since the names are so similar! Even with Mario, Mass Effect and ZombiU shown off extensively, I wasn’t sold on it. Then the post release game announcements started coming in. And then I started to pay attention.
Zelda: Wind Waker HD, a NEW Zelda adventure, a new Smash Brothers, the return of Earthbound, Shin Megami Tensei X Fire Emblem, Pokemon Rumble U (Skylanders but with Pokemon), Super Luigi U and most recently, the announcement of Nintendo’s exclusivity deal with a certain blue hedgehog. Those crazy, clever, maniacal bastards did it. As far as the GAMES of the 8th gaming generation is concerned, Nintendo got it the most right. Although the first launch year of the WiiU hasn’t been overly mind blowing thus far, the future potential of the system is looking really bright for the one reason that Nintendo has done the one thing that Microsoft and Sony have forgotten: make the games for the fans. The inclusion of backwards compatibility with the Wii was a very smart decision to help augment the size of the WiiU’s game library in these starting months.
That said however, the system isn’t without its flaws. One of the most notable of these is the hugely limited battery life of the WiiU Gamepad, as well as the huge inconsistency that exist with various games’ control styles. Additionally, the system may not appeal to the older hard-core gaming market on the basis that multi platform releases tend to be more appealing on the other consoles in the market. Of particular concern is that many third party publishers like EA are actively trying to avoid development for the WiiU, which doesn’t bode well for sports franchises on the system. The WiiU’s “family friendly” image probably won’t fly with the teenage market, which is probably why we won’t be seeing Battlefield 4 on it, since it’s playership is primarily comprised of that demographic.
Nintendo has impressed me most of all out of the current console generation. Unlike Sony and Microsoft, Nintendo doesn’t seem bogged down by this idea that a gaming console can do more than JUST play games. But it’s for that very reason that Nintendo has focused on the GAMES and their fans that I feel Nintendo’s WiiU is the most respectable console out of the three. However, the potential for third party growth has been hampered as of late, and I can’t help but shake the feeling that Nintendo isn’t yet done with unnecessary gimmicks like motion control and touch pads.
E3 2013 will most likely be one of the biggest and most watched shows in gaming history. This year will really be the make or break time for all 3 current console developers. All of the publishers will be under pressure to impress, though I feel that the onus will be on Microsoft most of all. Although the WiiU will have been out a year longer than its younger cousins, it’s still early days for the system as a whole. Its current library of games does impress, but I’d hope to see even bigger and better things from Nintendo this year. And Sony has yet to show off many of the specs for their system, keeping much of it shrouded in mystery. In all honesty, any of them could potentially surprise as they may well disappoint.
So which one of the three do you think will be the One 4 U? Leave a comment below and let us know!