Now that Microsoft and Sony have finally laid out all the details of their next console launches at E3, we pit them head-to-head in our PlayStation 4 vs Xbox One breakdown.
After this week’s pre-E3 briefings, we now have a clearer picture on the price, exclusive game titles and used games policy for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
Microsoft was first out of the gate with its briefing for the Xbox One, focusing on new games, but the subject of used games and digital rights management (DRM) was glossed over. However, Sony was keen to get one over Microsoft by finally revealing what the PS4 looks like, in addition to a cheaper price for the console and a solid used games policy.
PS4 VS Xbox One – pricing and availability
The PlayStation 4 is priced at £349, and due to officially arrive on the UK shores ‘later this year.’ The PS4’s Eye camera will be sold separately and costs £39. Meanwhile, the Xbox One costs £80 more with a price tag of £429 and will arrive in November 2013. One reason this is that the Xbox One’s Kinect camera is no longer optional; it comes bundled with the console.
Dedicated console fans and gamers alike may not baulk at shelling out £429 for a new console but for some people, the choice of buying one or the other may come down to simple economics: what can I afford right now? At this stage, the PS4 has taken the lead in price and this will be a huge factor when making a purchasing decision for the upcoming 2013 holiday season.
PS4 VS Xbox One – games
Both Microsoft and Sony have announced a raft of new games, including some exclusive titles. For example, Microsoft has announced Forza Motorsport 5 and Dead Rising 3, whilst Sony has Final Fantasy XV and Killzone: Shadow Fall.
However, their policies on used games show where they really differ. The gaming community needs the rental and second hand market. Why? Because games can be expensive and sometimes, you may want to try before you buy or even simply lend a game to a friend for the weekend.
Microsoft recently announced that it would be operating a restrictive policy on used games, where you can resell a game only through a game publisher or via specific retailers. Also, each Xbox One game can only be shared once, and only to Xbox Live friends of 30-days or more. Now that doesn’t sound very consumer friendly.
Sony on the other hand has announced that the Sony PlayStation 4 will not come with any such restrictions and will continue its existing used games policy. The PS4, like previous iterations, will not limit disc sharing, games can be resold easily and the PS4 will use region free discs. This means, you can purchase games online from other regions and the discs will work in your UK console.
PS4 VS Xbox One – online
With regards to online connectivity, the Xbox One requires a periodical internet connection, meaning the console will ‘check-in’ every 24-hours. Basically, the console will verify if any game updates are available or if any games have been traded. Microsoft adds that “offline gaming is not possible after these prescribed times until you re-establish a connection, but you can still watch live TV and enjoy Blu-ray and DVD movies.” The PS4 will not regularly connect to the internet to check on your game licenses, and you will be able to use your console offline for as long as you want.
One disappointment relating to the PlayStation 4 is that it will require an annual subscription to play multiplayer games online. PlayStation Plus is currently £40 and there’s been no confirmation from Sony if it will remain at this price for the PS4’s launch. One of the PlayStation 3’s major selling points was that you could play online games free of charge in comparison to being charged an annual fee for Xbox 360’s Live subscription.
Microsoft also announced that its Points virtual currency is being killed off. All prices will now be quoted in pounds on the new system, which is much more convenient and easier to compare value for money. It’s not yet known what will happen to Microsoft Points the currently exist in users’ virtual wallets.
PS4 VS Xbox One – specs
Both consoles look strikingly similar to each other, resembling a strange marriage between a VCR and a set-top box. On the inside, this theme continues and with their specs mainly differing in the type of system memory used.
Neither Microsoft nor Sony has strayed far from their previous controller designs and the changes are only slight modifications. The DualShock 4 is a little bigger and features a touch pad, plus a built-in headphone jack. The Xbox One controller has a tweaked D-pad on the bottom left-hand side of the controller plus the trigger buttons also feature a new built-in rumble system called “Impulse Triggers.”
Which? expert view
To put it bluntly – Sony is leagues ahead of Microsoft with the PS4. In terms of which console will come out on top this holiday season, my money is on the PlayStation 4. Not only is it cheaper but there are concrete details available on its used games and region-free policy.
Microsoft initially created a lot of controversy at the launch of the Xbox One when it released muddied details about used games and backwards compatibility. I don’t think the console’s reputation has recovered since then.
Initially portrayed as the ‘all-in-one’ living room solution, the Xbox One might be worth looking at if you’re interested in other entertainment aspects apart from gaming. The Xbox One lets you participate in Skype video chats with friends or even browse the web whilst watching a film, all from the same screen via its ‘Snap mode.’ Whilst Sony’s PS4 seems to be more focused on games, its entertainment strategy doesn’t seem to have changed since the PS3.
Ryan Shaw, Senior Technology Researcher