It’s been a crazy few months ever since the current generation of video game consoles was finally unleased in November 2013. Coming on the heels of the wild back and forth that happened after last year’s E3, gamers have finally had the chance to spend some much needed time with each console themselves. While each one is certainly great in their own right, how do they really measure up now that we’re 6 months deep into the current generation? So Den of Geek is going to break down all of the different ways that Sony’s PlayStation 4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One match up against each other so far: from the systems themselves, to the exclusive games and peripherals, to the actual sales figures.
Say what you will about different framerate or higher HD output, but having spent the past 6 months with both the PS4 and Xbox One in the center of my living room, it’s very clear that these are two very powerful machines here. And each one is only going to get even more powerful as the months go on. Both Sony and Microsoft have been pretty adamant about rolling out the system updates in response to user feedback.
One thing that both the PS4 and Xbox One have understood greatly is that sharing is caring in the current generation of video games. I mean, the PS4 controller has a physical “Share” button on it, for Pete’s sake! Well the popularity of live-streaming gameplay is showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon, and both systems have begun to embrace this new way to share wholeheartedly.
Microsoft has already rolled out a number of well-respected updates to Xbox One systems, which have implemented some really great and desired features like slick adjustments to the menu interface, improved friends lists and DVR quality, better support for external devices, new updating and downloading options, and a battery indicator for the controller (finally!). In another recent update, the Xbox One has received its long-awaited Twitch app, which allowed gamers everywhere to self-broadcast their latest kill in Titanfall. Not to mention that Microsoft is really trying to meet customers halfway on pricing. They recently lifted paywalls on subscription services such as Netflix, Hulu, and HBO GO, so that you can access them without an Xbox Live Gold account. It eliminates having to pay for these services TWICE. And Games for Gold is getting an overhaul, too. It will work a lot like PlayStation Plus: Xbox Live Gold members receive two free games a month, which they can access as long as they continue to pay their Gold accounts.
The PS4 has also made some big strides in the update department, with the most recent April 1.70 update including a brand new app to manage and edit your recorded gameplay videos called the SHAREfactory, the ability to save recorded videos to a USB, and the option to dim the light bar on the back of the DualShock 4 controller (one of the most useless components of a current gen console, in my opinion. Sorry Sony!).
PlayStation Now is set to bring back many PS3 and PS2 classics to several Sony platforms. Boasting over 100 titles at launch that you can play on your PS4, PS Vita, Sony TVs, and more, PlayStation Now will bring backwards compatibility into the current-gen.
Sony had made a big promise during last year’s E3 that the PlayStation 4 would be incredibly friendly to the indie developers, and only 6 months down the road we’re already beginning to see them stay true to their word. The PS4 currently has a number of hot indie titles available for download, including Don’t Starve, Outlast, Octodad: Dadliest Catch, SteamWorld Dig, and more. The best part about that is that some of these indie games were even available completely for free if you subscribed to the PlayStation Plus service.
Conversely, Xbox One has a few great indie games under its belt, although Microsoft assures us that many more are well on the way. For now, though, Xbox One indie connoisseurs can enjoy Max: The Curse of Brotherhood, Crimson Dragon, and the surprise hit Powerstar Golf. However, each console also has some big-name downloadable titles to help round out these great games lists even further: the amazing Resogun on PS4, and the outstanding Peggle 2 on Xbox One.
Now as far as the big retail exclusive games are concerned, I have to say that Microsoft is winning the battle so far on that front. The Xbox One came out strong with launch titles like Dead Rising 3 and Ryse: Son of Rome. In the months since, they’ve added such gems as Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare, Kinect Sports Rivals, and, of course, the big system seller, Titanfall.
The PS4’s big exclusive titles, on the other hand, have left a little bit to be desired so far. Killzone: Shadow Fall turned out to be a clunky and generic shooter, while Knack is an absolute lesson in boredom and frustration (and this is coming from someone whose favorite game genre is action-platformers a la Jak and Daxter). Luckily, a few of the PS4’s heavy hitters have finally begun to roll out, like the unbelievably fun Infamous: Second Son.
As far as the rest of 2014 is concerned, both PS4 and Xbox One fans will have a lot of exclusives to look forward to, in addition to all of the great current gen multiplatform releases that are already on tap. It seems that the next 6 months for the PS4 will be led by The Order: 1886 and The Last of Us Remastered, while the Xbox One is looking to continue strong with a new Halo game, and if we’re lucky, Quantum Break. Of course, this is without taking into account all of the amazing new exclusives for each console that are sure to be announced during this year’s E3.
So we already know that the systems themselves are great, but what about the peripherals and accessories that go along with them? For Microsoft, the biggest peripheral of the Xbox One is the new and improved Kinect, which not only looks cool in its design, but actually functions extremely well at that. I personally love using the voice commands of the Kinect to move around my console and even sometimes during games (like shouting “Fire volley!” in Ryse: Son of Rome). But unfortunately, other than Kinect Sports Rivals, there really aren’t very many exclusive experiences that really let us see the different kinds of things that the new Kinect can do. Recent developments are a bit troubling for Microsoft’s beloved peripheral, though. Dropping Kinect in order to release a cheaper Xbox One says to those that bought the Kinect at launch, “Sorry, guys, but we’re giving up on it.”
And now for the PS4. Since Sony oddly seems to have stopped caring about the Vita altogether, the nifty and powerful handheld system is now being seen as an expensive peripheral to the PS4, rather than its own standalone hardware with a unique list of games. But let me tell you: boy what an awesome peripheral that is! The remote play capabilities of the PS4 and Vita are simply wonderful, and they work just like a charm. It’s especially nice to play a PS4 game on your Vita and use your TV to watch a movie at the same time (like when farming for crystals in Knack has become just too mind-numbingly boring).
Furthermore, this is not so much a peripheral as it is an entertainment service, but Microsoft is really making strides towards achieving its goals in the television world. A handful of original TV programs have already been announced for Xbox Live, including a Halo adaptation produced by Stephen Spielberg, a technology documentary series, and more. We should start to see the first of these titles debut at some point in 2015, but the seeds of excitement are already here now, and it will be interesting to see how the introduction of these exclusive TV shows changes the Xbox One dynamic going forward.
Finally, we come to the bottom line of this little old console war that we’re talking about: the number of units sold by each system in the first 6 months of its lifetime. And in this category, it appears that the numbers don’t lie. As of April 2014, Sony announced that they had sold 7 million units directly to consumers. Conversely, Microsoft announced that they had sold 5 million units “to retailers,” which means the actual number of Xbox One consoles bought by consumers will be something less than that 5 million mark.
So it’s very apparent here that the PS4 has sold more units so far than the Xbox One. If I had to guess, I’d have to say that this is a result of that lower price tag on the PS4, and the way that Sony has marketed the console following their applauded E3 appearance, not to mention all that talk about PS4 games running in true 1080p HD. However, I also think the Xbox One has a lot of time to make up that ground in the years down the road: especially since the new system will officially be available in other markets like Japan starting in September.
But of course, the number of units sold is a far from defining factor as to what both the PS4 and Xbox One have managed to achieve in such a short amount of time. I’ve found myself to become a big fan of each one for completely different reasons, and I can’t wait to continue the wild rides that Sony and Microsoft have in store for the rest of 2014.
What do you think?
Do you have a PS4, an Xbox One, or both? In the spirit of sharing, be sure to hit the replies and let us know your favorite stories of gaming in the current generation over these past awesome 6 months. What things do you like about each console? Which big exclusive games are you looking forward to the most? And of course, which one of the current generation consoles is your favorite?