Daily Reaction: Xbox One vs PS4 Reality Check


As Microsoft continues to dig their own grave, the ever lasting ‘console war’ has flared up with people declaring a winner right out of the gate. With that, the Daily Reaction crew of Seb and Dan take a step back and point out that, while MS might be covered in dirt at the moment, they haven’t picked out their headstone just yet.

Dan: For the last few months, Microsoft have been on a PR tailspin, causing the Xbox One to be the butt of all internet jokes and declared dead before even arrival. This only became worse for them as Sony launched a full on attack against the ill-conceived DRM focused console, and gamers saw that the PS4 had won the hearts of the media. News coverage showed that the PS4 was the last hope for gaming as we knew it and early sales figures reflected that consumers were speaking with their dollars.

Now, Microsoft has reversed their whole stance on having daily check-ins and DRM with the Xbox One, uprooted the fundamental structure the console was built on and brought the system back to what it should have been – usable. But even now, parts of the industry still believe that the system has completely lost this generation to Sony and gamers should continue to fall in line behind PS4. This can be seen in the latest issue of multiplatform Edge magazine, which leads with the headline: “This is your next console” alongside a pic of the PS4.

It is true that Microsoft is in a bad shape compared to how they were when the year started, but they are far from being out of the race just yet.

Being a PlayStation based site, we know just how much some gamers love their exclusive IPs and know that very few franchises carry the same weight as Halo or Gears of War. Using just those two titles, Microsoft will be able to bring in a subset of gamers who really do not care about the turbulent past with DRM, they only want the games.

This simple concept has been what Microsoft have been banking on since the beginning, the idea that you could back gamers into a corner with the IPs they love and force-feed them TV functionality and DRM. Luckily, most of the industry did stand up so we don’t have to deal with those problems right now, and fans of those IPs are getting carte blanche to switch back – the race is on once again.

The PS4 has the lead currently with the number of units pre-ordered and a $100 lower price-point, but Microsoft still has a wonderful library of titles to keep fans hooked and the normal line-up of timed exclusives. As Titanfall has been winning awards left and right, and Call of Duty prepares to rear its head for its first next-gen release, MS will not be the featherweight that many are considering them to be, no matter how much Sony fans would like them to be.

People will ultimately point at the $100 price point and say that MS have set themselves up for years of failure, but the reality is that they do have more flexibility to move than Sony. The Xbox One uses cheaper components, leaving them open to quicker price drops once they’ve streamlined the cost of the Kinect 2, as well as found room to cut down the size of the giant console box with a slim model relaunch.

Seb: Yup, publications such as Edge going out and declaring an outright winner is completely irresponsible and just poor journalism. Here’s what they should be saying – Microsoft made it way harder for themselves, but they haven’t destroyed themselves. Saying anything more than that is hyperbole, and shouldn’t be on the cover of a ‘credible’ magazine.

The PS4 has the potential to perform phenomenally well – it has a significantly lower price, strong exclusives, no bad publicity about DRM, indie love, strong exclusives, strong IPs and more launch regions. Make no mistake, Sony have a very strong chance at ‘winning’ the launch period, and have a good chance at winning the next generation as a whole.

But that doesn’t mean the One will completely die, let’s be realistic here. The Xbox is an incredibly strong brand, especially in the US and UK, so a lot of gamers will buy it for that reason alone. Then there’s the tens of millions of XBL subscribers who won’t want to lose their friends lists, Achievements or Avatars. Those people are locked into the Xbox ecosystem, and just don’t want to leave.

Equally, there are those that love the Xbox 360’s controller – and the One’s isn’t all that different – and they simply won’t switch over, no matter what’s on PS4. Just like the PS3 managed to survive its own launch woes due to brand power and consumer loyalty, the One will too.

Then there’s Microsoft’s marketing. They managed to make the Kinect a runaway sales success, despite being an intrinsically flawed and pointless device, by using the tried and true method of throwing money at it until it sold. Sony doesn’t do that, and they’ll likely be completely out-advertised next gen once again.

Hell, through marketing, Microsoft will probably be able to convince the average consumer that the Xbox One is the most powerful console due to ‘the power of the cloud’, while Sony has the tough task of trying to explain the difference between 8GB of GDDR5 RAM and 8GB of DDR3 RAM. Cloud could end up being a huge gamechanger for developers, or it could end up being a pointless addition ruined by local bottlenecks, but it doesn’t really matter – they’ll make people think it’s the next big thing.

The honest truth is that the general gamer doesn’t know that much about the console they end up buying. While you may scroll down to comment that you know all there is to know about specs, the sheer fact that you’re reading this very sentence means that you’re not the average consumer, you’ve invested more time than the norm.

Most people just want to play CoD, Battlefield, Assassin’s Creed and Madden/FIFA. Both consoles can do that, with pretty much the same gameplay and graphics on those titles, so everything else is meaningless to a large population of gamers.

Microsoft hurt themselves severely, something made all the worse by the fact that they really didn’t have to do it that way – they didn’t have to call it the Xbox One, they didn’t have to talk about TV, they didn’t have to come up with a DRM plan that was doomed from the outset, etc. But even though they are hurt, even though their actions have impacted the One’s sales, they haven’t irredeemably ruined the Xbox division.

Internet commenters love to proclaim the death of a console all the time, it’s only natural, but for a large publication to do so is utterly shameful. Microsoft stumbled, they did not fall down.

The Xbox One is not doomed.

Do you think the Xbox One has a chance this November? Will it sell out? Are you planning on picking One up eventually? Let us know in the comments below, email us at [email protected] or tweet us your fanboy hate at Seb and Dan.