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E3 - 2013 Blog: Sony vs. Microsoft (One Man's Opinion)

This year's E3 was a biggie, with both Sony and Microsoft announcing details of their next generation consoles in their pre-show press conferences. The Xbox One and the PlayStation 4 went head-to-head in the battle of the next generation. Which one emerged victorious is a matter of opinion and, for those who care, this is mine.

We all had our favourite moving into E3, based no doubt on a combination of brand loyalty, preferred exclusive franchises and pre-E3 news; both rumours and official announcements. Being a multi-platform gamer, brand loyalty was less of an issue for me, but the news surrounding Xbox One's restrictions on the used game market and the persistent internet connection required had me leaning towards Sony's console.

Microsoft were the first to present in this year's press conferences, and boy did they do a good job at changing my mind. While the same ugly factors remain present - your console will cease to work for games, even single player, if you do not connect to the internet at least once every 24 hours; and the used game market may be a thing of the past. However, the strength of some of Microsoft's exclusive titles really made me reconsider my mindset of avoiding the console for these reasons.

Dead Rising 3 was certainly a game that peaked my interest. With the demonstration featuring an apparent open city environment, in contrast to the relatively confined areas featured in the previous games. The gameplay demo featured hordes of zombies far bigger than those seen previously and improved driving mechanics. Initially the feel seemed a little more serious than the previous games, but the glorious over-the-top combat was showcased at the end. It very much looks like a title that can be played seriously, or outrageously, as the mood takes you. As a big fan of the franchise, the news that this iteration will be an Xbox One exclusive certainly has me tempted to invest in Microsoft's machine.

A surprise showing for me was Project Spark, an amazing looking piece of software about making games. In a matter of minutes utilising a combination of voice commands and SmartGlass technology, the demonstration team successfully created a 3D world complete with forests, mountains and rivers, with some goblins to fight and a village to protect. Considering what was made in a few minutes, the potential for game creation using these tools looks amazing and immediately made this title a contender in my most wanted list. Project Spark was announced for both Xbox One and Windows 8 - leaving me with a difficult choice to make.

Other impressive looking exclusive titles announced in the Microsoft conference included Roman hack-and-slash: Ryse: Son of Rome, a reboot of the classic monster-brawler: Killer Instinct, open world shooter: Sunset Overdrive, racing favourite sequel: Forza Motorsport 5, time-bending TV/game hybrid: Quantum Break and, of course, the next instalment of Microsoft's leading FPS franchise: Halo 5.

All-in-all, a seriously impressive list of console exclusives that is guaranteed to entice a number of gamers to the Xbox One corner, with games covering a number of different genres and featuring impressive looking graphics and gameplay for the new generation.

By contrast, I felt Sony's presentation to be lacking on the exciting exclusive front, with a lot of emphasis being placed on a number of multi-platform titles. It's all well-and-good knowing that Batman: Arkham Origins will feature an exclusive character skin on PlayStation 4, or that if I buy Diablo III on a Sony machine I get a few extra items, but it's not exactly the exciting exclusives that I saw Microsoft present.

In actuality, there were a few genuine exclusives on show, but they didn't exactly give much away or spend a lot of time talking about those titles. The setting for The Order: 1886 certainly looks interesting, with a steampunk, London-based backdrop combining historical stylings with high technology. However, beyond a vague idea of the setting and a cinematic trailer, I don't know anything about the game. Is it an first person or third person game? Is it single player, co-op or multiplayer focussed? While I liked the style, I can hardly be swayed by a title when I don't even know what the gameplay is like.

Other exclusives may have been tantalising to others, but I found it hard to be excited. Infamous and Killzone are both franchises I could never really get into, so the Infamous: Second Son and Killzone: Shadow Fall announcements failed to engage me. I'm also not a big racing fan, so Drive Club failed to inspire me. Other than that, far too much time was spent in showing off huge games such as Destiny, Watch Dogs and Assassin's Creed IV; all of which look amazing (bar a few technical difficulties on the night), but all of which will be multi-platform releases.

Where Sony did win the crowd over was their announcement that PlayStation 4 will have no restrictions on used games and will require no internet connection to play single player games. There was nothing subtle about this announcement, and it was clearly an unashamed attack on the Xbox One model. It certainly scored them points with the crowd though, and was greeted with the biggest (and most genuine sounding) cheering and applause of the day.

Of course, the other ace up Sony's sleeve in the battle of the console was the price. Earlier in the day, Microsoft had announced the Xbox One launch price to be $499 USD / €499 EUR / £429 GBP; Sony undercut this by some margin with a price announcement of $399 USD / €399 EUR / £349 GBP for an, arguably, more powerful machine.

Overall I came out of the E3 conferences conflicted. I had went in favouring Sony and feeling like PlayStation 4 was the choice for me, but seeing some of the quality exclusives on the Xbox One line up has made me question that decision. I'm still leaning towards PlayStation 4, but the truth is: I want both. In that sense, I guess Microsoft won the E3 conferences for me, but I'm still favouring the PlayStation 4.

Ewok | 13th June, 2013
JoeP's picture
This has hit the nail on the head for me. I'm more conflicted on which console I should get first than I was before E3.

If MicroSoft lifted their rediculous restrictions then it would be a sure fire choice for me. But as it stands, I don't like the ethical implications.
Ewok's picture
Cheers Joe. In an ideal world where there were no restrictions and the price was the same, I would be with Xbox all the way on the strength of the game lineup. As it stands though...

I've seen a few people comment on something I hadn't considered - what's going to happen 10+ years down the line when the Xbox One is no longer supported online? As someone who likes to keep hold of my old consoles and games, will I end up with a large paperweight that can't play games anymore?
Platinum's picture
Fair play and valid points, for me there is only 1 game that is Xbox exclusive (rest are PC as well WIN!) that I want and thats Forza.

The big issues for me though are not issues that I can think "Yea there shit and all but you know the few games I want make it worth it", Buy the console and MS will take that as you going "yea ok im good with this, bring more restrictions in the future plox".

If you dont like what they are doing then dont buy it, vote with your wallet

That said, I will end up getting drunk and ordering one at some point...

PS4 for me excels being a console, its 50% faster than the Xbox One and just works as a console should, for that Sony will get my goldz, its a console, not a yank TV machine, not a media streamer, not a skype box, its a games machine, the other shit MS are trying to put into there box can be done better on devices designed for it.

Fat Tony's picture
PS4 - Buy it, and then do what you want in terms of games and accessories.

Xbox One - Buy it, get this stupid Kinect crap too, keep the Kinect plugged in at all times, also always be connected to the internet because Reasons, and also we will occasionally come round and spank you if we see you bought any second-hand games.

Honestly the Kinect is more of a dealbreaker than the always-online thing. I can't emphasize enough how much I think the Kinect is a crock of s**t, and I guarantee third-party developers will eventually just refuse to make games for it.
Platinum's picture

This is coming from a PC Fanboi as well!
Maggy's picture
Originally Posted by Platinum View Post
its a console, not a yank TV machine, not a media streamer, not a skype box, its a games machine
I couldn't agree more... This is EXACTLY why i cancelled my gold sub Ive had since like the week rainbow six came out for the xbox 1.

If i didnt have to put up with all the SHIT on the new dash, i would still have a sub.

I even dont mind the xbox always online thing, how ever being force to have that kinect crap on just does it for me..
I've refused biometrics to my employers.. im certainly going to refuse them to a little box i don't know who gathering data though.

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