POSTING BY JB MADDAWG
Decisions, decisions. Game system wars may seem like something new, but in fact, it’s a battle that has been has been raging since the early 1980’s. While growing up I remember Atari and Intellivision snarking each other with commercials and making fun of the opposing system. Then, Colecovision threw in and really made it a mess. Competition breeds better prices for consumers, yet it also makes for some really psychotic advertising campaigns. All is fair in love and gaming. I didn’t make that quote, someone else did. Who cares, I digress.
Here in the now, Microsoft’s XBox One has been looked to as the newest generation gaming system to have, and this concept hasn’t been lost on its makers. Rolling out in Novemberish, the XBox One will hit the stores at a cardiac-inducing $499.00, and don’t expect that price to drop anytime within the first year. Microsoft has put a truck load of time into this system, and although it has enough features to get a gamer through the next number of years it’s still pushing the envelope of game system prices. Yet, here’s where things really start to get ugly: XBox One will also have a policy regarding used games. Developers such as EA and Blizzard have jumped all over this, and are said to be putting “used game policies” in place as I type. If you just missed that, I’ll break it down: you’re going to pay again for used games on XBox One.
Going beyond the sticker shock and used game fees, Microsoft decided another kick in the ribs would be that the console itself must check in via an internet connection once a day, and once an hour if not on the “home”console. A connection speed of no less than 1.5 is required, and already has gamers piggybacking off neighbor’s wi-fi in a tizzy. Microsoft’s primary reason is for the attention switch to cloud-style gaming, which is equally loved and hated in the gaming community. Sure you can play your games from a remote location but the feature does not make the games any better. In fact, as many PC owners operating through Steam will agree, cloud-style gaming can be a regular pain in the ass at times. Make no mistake, however, XBox One revolves around an internet connection for better or worse.
A notable knock on the XBox One is the fact the Kinect system is now built-in and can now sense even a player’s heart rate. Described in some gaming circles as “overreaching”, it is mildly ironic that this debate is going on with the backdrop of the NSA security measures that are making the headlines. This point is in my opinion a bit nitpicky as the Kinect needs info and sensors to operate. Look gang, nobody cares if you want to go buff and play Susan Powter’s Yoga Pants Off Dance Off. Trust me, the government is way too busy going to your Facebook page, sifting through your emails and phone calls to care what you’re jiggling to on your game console. Let it go.
Microsoft is really pushing the idea of being able to use Skype while gaming and being able to jump between music to movies to games in an instant. Personally, I have no interest or the attention span to video chat with people while playing the next Grand Theft Auto title.
Yep, Microsoft looked down from the mountain of gaming systems and decided it was time to make people start paying for their gaming addictions. That $499.00 price tag is purely for the gaming smack addicts that have to have a new console fix, and that price may be in place well into the future. Or not….
Enter Sony’s Playstation 4 which had its coming out party at E3 this past Monday night. The top folks at Sony took the stage that night with one goal in mind: squash Microsoft’s shiny new button like a bug. Aiming for a “holidays of 2013” release date, the Sony Playstation 4 will be on the market at a debut price of $399.00. That’s right, sports fans, one hundred frog skins less than the Microsoft offering. When leading with an undercut of $100 bucks, most of the crowd at E3 was wondering how Sony would handle an encore.
Sony’s next bombshell was to announce that there would be no need for a constant internet connection to use the console. In plain speak, if you have to give up your internet connection or don’t have one, you can still play the game system you paid a large amount of money for. Any system owner will obviously speak of the many great features of having an internet connection to the console, but you don’t have to have one. It’s an option, and options are at the heart of what any smart consumer craves.
Sony finished with its TKO of Microsoft by then announcing there will be no used game charge or policy. None. One had only to take a quick look at Twitter on Monday night to see when the announcement hit, as an angry mob proclaimed things such as “thanks Microsoft, I’m out” or another that read “I’m not paying twice for a game. PS4 just made my decision easier”. Microsoft overplayed it’s hand, and Sony stepped up to fill the gap. Gamers today are cheap, and they aren’t stupid.
So, if all these new features aren’t the heart of the matter, then gameplay certainly is. Internally, the two units are almost the same at the processor level, so performance is going to be a dead heat. Both will provide an excellent gaming format for any player and really the matter will come down to cold hard cash. Microsoft is not making it a secret they will release a top-notch console, but you’re going to pay dearly for it and the services. Sony will be aiming its Playstation 4 at a more diverse crowd with less money to spend. Both systems will have plenty of multi-player options to enjoy, but face facts gaming world: multiplayer abilities are going to cost, and there’s not much anyone can do about it.
One of the nicer features that both systems will have is the ability to download a game and begin playing immediately. The game will continue to download in the background while the most impatient among us begin the mashing of the buttons. I’m the kind that digs that instant gratification, as I once downloaded Fallout: New Vegas for three days on my PC. Three. Days. Oy.
All in all the two systems should propel the gaming world into the next level of home entertainment. It boils down to if one really feels there is more to be had for $100.00 difference and a charge for used games. Well, that and maybe you’re too modest to let Kinect on the XBox One see you in the nude.