The Console Wars
UPDATE: Microsoft has reversed their policies on internet connectivity and the trading of used games. Stand proud fellow gamers. You made your voice heard and revolution followed.
Let the great console war begin! Let the little kiddies bathe in the delicious digital goodness! Let the grown kiddies resist change at every corner and still shell out the cash! That's right fellow gamers, E3 is wrapping up and the cards are on the table. Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo will now spend the coming months courting each and every one of us, vying for our ever-changing affections. They will spew forth billions in marketing in a metaphorical struggle to capture our mind's eye and our heart's desire...and we will love every minute of it.
Alas, that is not why we are here today. Today we are here as gamers. Not TV watchers. Not social networkers. Not creepy, voyeuristic pedophiles (lookin' at you Microsoft). We are gamers. We are here to discuss which gaming console bears the most fruit in three distinct categories: Hardware (both console and controller), Exclusive Games, and Price.
Let's do this.
Though the PS4 and XBO are extremely similar in build, I'm going to have to give the edge to the PS4 in the hardware category. Not only is there a small edge in RAM, the PS4 sports 18 computing units over the XBO's 12. This means the shading (which can add significant depth) will be a wee-bit smoother on the PS4. That being said, the custom chip work in the XBO has me intrigued. The gameplay shown thus far doesn't look terribly different, but without getting firsthand experience, making a call on that aspect is difficult.
What it really boils down to is how adept the developers become at manipulating the hardware with their proprietary engines. Last generation it took them a few years to get the hang of the cell-based processing, but when they did it was a glorious thing (ie. Skyrim, Bioshock Infinite, Assassin's Creed x5). This generation they are looking at hardware that has been in mid-range PC gaming rigs for a few years now. This means that, while this coming console generation's build may not be able to hit the high notes on paper, developers will be able to auto-tune their way to sounding the same as a high-end rig.
In this respect, I have to pay homage to Nintendo for understanding their market. A very small portion of consumers enter into a gaming contract with Nintendo hoping for high-end graphics. Nintendo fans do it for the gameplay experience and proprietary titles. Thus, kudos to Nintendo for sticking with what they know.
For years now, I have consistently proclaimed that the Xbox 360 controller is the King of all gamepads. With the off-set thumbsticks and a substantial weight that isn't intrusive, the X360 controller remains my favorite to this day. Microsoft making the decision to leave well enough alone has me leaning toward the XBO in the controller hardware category.
This does not mean that the substantially increased size of the DualShock 4 has not peaked my interest though. I hated the DualShock 3 because I could never get used to the lack of heft and utter lack of length, leading to a flimsy gamepad resting in the middle of my meaty palm. The convex sticks were way too tall and had my thumbs slipping off constantly. The triggers made no sense and couldn't offer the security of tight, spring loaded excellence that the X360 controller could.
Now that the DualShock 4 seems to have remedied a great deal of these (personal opinion) failings, as well as adding a clickable touchscreen into the mix, I had to do a double take before making the XBO call.
As for the Wii? +2 respect points for trying something new; -100 for complete lack of logic.
I should mention, before we get into discussing games, that some of these titles will be released on PC, so don't go raging out on me over stupid details in the comments section.
Exclusive games lists can be a bit deceiving. When looking at the lists above, it would be easy to capitulate to the strength that both Microsoft and Nintendo are touting in first and third party development. But, when we dig deeper into the companies behind these consoles, I do believe Sony has the leg up on both of them.
Not only does Sony facilitate 13 first party development studios, their inclusion into franchises like Mass Effect (which was, at one point, a Microsoft exclusive) has garnered a much larger fan base towards the end of the current console generation. Admittedly, Sony played it safe at E3 by sticking to their major franchises, but PS4 exclusives for Bungie's return to console gaming with Destiny spoke loudly to hardcore gamers.
I have to give the win to the PS4 in the games category; not just for what has been shown thus far, but for what may come. Their dedication to indie developers, and hands off approach to third party development pulled hard on my gamer heart strings as well.
While the cheaper pricing of both the PS4 and the Wii U are sure to influence many a broke gamer, XBO including Kinect 2.0 in their bundle lessens the blow of their $499 price point. That being said, Kinect 2 feels far too much like an intrusion of my privacy for me to give two stinky piles of feces about the included tech.
Sans the peripheral, the PS4 definitely takes the price category. Not only does the console edge out the XBO in hardware (and blows away the Wii), the free games offered by the now required Playstation Plus membership speak to the cheap gamer in me.
While it may seem as though this war has seen some heavy artillery already, I do believe there will be much more to come before release. Microsoft has wounded many a gamer with their entertainment-centric console and "new age" digital licensing policies (refer to update at top), while Sony has undercut them at almost every turn. I am anxious to see these two titans wage war for my precious dollar bills in the near future.
As of right now, this gamer is diggin' what Sony is laying down in a major way.