All In For...
With the end of TGS looming, everything's on the table for two of the Big Three coming out with next-gen consoles by the end of the year. The most we'll get from either Sony or Microsoft now would be a simple policy explanation via twitter or short interviews but nothing that would dramatically shift the opinion in a consumer's mind. So, has everyone who is planning on purchasing a console by the end of the year settled in their respective camps ready to go? Or are there those still stuck in limbo unable to decide on which one to purchase? As a person who works in the game industry (vague I know), but more importantly as an unbiased consumer, I'm going with the PS4 in 2013. Here's my story of all that's led up to my decision.
I'll be honest with you guys, I love my 360. Ever since Microsoft introduced the Xbox 360 S I placed a lot of my chips at Microsoft's camp. I'm a big fan of hardware, and the 360 S was a big step in the right direction for Xbox fans. It also didn't hurt my faith in Microsoft when Sony kept releasing a newer and uglier PS3 each time. Here's what Sony was thinking, "Let's cut costs and make the PS3 Slim look as cheap and ugly as possible". As a Sony fan that irritated me. I was a big fan of the original George Foreman Grill-esque 60 GB PS3. A little about me, I've owned a total of 3 Xbox 360s and 2 PS3s. When the 360 S was announced, here I thought I could finally trade-in my, what now appeared to be (thanks marketing brain), fat Xbox 360 and no longer fear the inevitable RROD; the basis for trading in my original 20 GB and Elite 120 GB. Sure I had the 360 Elite edition with the smaller less power hungry Jasper chipset compared to the original Xenon, but with the same console appearance my fear still lingered. And then I heard the 360 S would have a 45 nm combined CPU and GPU along with even less power consumption and my fears vanished! I could own this 360 until the NeXbox, the 720, err I mean the One.
So in February 2013, the leaks happened ( http://bit.ly/X0i24h http://bit.ly/V5NUUA). That's when things such as mandatory Kinect, DDR3 RAM, "always on", and new DRM happened. What were you thinking Microsoft? If anything, these leaks benefited Sony tremendously (main reason for the boost to 8 GB in the PS4?). When a console is announced, the design and games usually accompany it. So in the case of this leak, you could really only pay attention to its specs and policies. Boy was "Durango" disappointing. On the other hand I was really only disappointed by the 4 GB of RAM in the "Orbis". Like any relationship, there should always be more than one reason for ending it (look now I'm giving relationship advice) and this was the first draw. But I was still going into the next-gen with an open mind.
Then Sony came back knocking on my door with their pre-E3 conference. "Remember me?" she said ( http://bit.ly/1gOfj4h). Let me start off by saying that I love my PS3 as well, but once my 60 GB died on me, she became a little less appealing (being all matte and ugly). She still had the games though! During the conference Sony was saying all the right things: 8 GB GDDR5 RAM, developer friendly, social features, and the DualShock 4! More info about me, I'm really critical when it comes to design, in case you couldn't tell before. When Sony announced the DS4, I was a little skeptical. In my opinion, the 360 Controller is superior over the DualShock 3, especially when it comes to the triggers. And one of the first things you notice on the DS4 are the new triggers! I was excited, but if they felt anything like the DualShock 3 triggers that would be a deal breaker. Design and functionality, I'm super critical about it. I got my first hands on the DS4 at E3, but more on that later. Sony was doing everything right, especially when it came to announcing games. Destiny, Watch Dogs, Infamous: Second Son, Deep Down, Final Fantasy, etc., they all looked great! Getting the jump on E3 created a lot of excitement for Sony and I was readying my seat to bring to Sony's camp ready to purchase a PS4.
Responding to Sony's conference, Microsoft held their own pre-E3 conference. From the confirmation of mandatory Kinect, "always on", focus on TV, and even the fake applause by Microsoft employeees ( http://bit.ly/10jspT3), nothing was going right for Microsoft (the negative press didn't help either). I actually didn't mind the mandatory Kinect or "always on" so much at first. Sure lugging around my Kinect with the Xbox One would be a pain but it wasn't a deal breaker (I do remember forgetting to bring a necessary cable to a LAN on occasion as a kid). "Always on" was a slightly bigger pain but most of the games I play on 360 are online games. I figured I'd just be playing a lot of Halo (though I do enjoy the single player campaign of Halo games). I guess I was being positive and optimistic. The more I thought about it though the more I began to really dislike those policies. Then almost as quick as they were announced, Microsoft took away those annoyances but at the cost of one of the One's greatest features, digital game sharing. Hope that makes a comeback soon. To be honest, all of those problems I had with the Xbox One were overshadowed by one thing, the console itself. It looked HUGE! Plus the fact that it couldn't stand vertical seemed like a step backwards. I stand all my consoles vertically, even if I have to buy a separate stand (looking at you Sony!). Did I mention I'm a design freak? The controller on the other hand looked alright but I was really digging the idea of putting rumble inside of the triggers, impulse triggers they called it. I believe the design of a controller has a greater importance than the design of a console, especially since I place my consoles behind my TV. So my eye began to wander, what were these so-called impulse triggers like?
June finally comes around, felt like forever with all the pre-E3 news (heck even Nintendo had their pre-E3 conference online). E3 2013 was only the second time I attended the conference. Getting hands-on the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4 was unreal. As a kid I always looked to others with envy as they would attend E3 getting their hands on the latest tech. Thankfully there were journalists who would share their thoughts about it (shoutout to magazines and online websites!). Now I had finally made it to E3 with my name on the badge (sounds like another post in the making)! There weren't many hands on demos but getting a grip on the controllers was enough for me. Both controllers had their positives and negatives. For the Xbox One it was mainly the bumpers. Microsoft somehow made them worse, which doesn't make sense at all. With the One's controller handles slightly more angled inwards and the bumpers being more slanted than the 360 controller, pressing the bumpers felt more difficult. On Sony's side, the DS4 touchpad was disappointing. I was expecting nice clicking feedback similar to a mouse trackpad, but there was hardly any resistance when pressing it and practically no sound feedback. You may call it being picky, I call it having a high attention to detail (haha). Overall, I fell in love with the triggers on both controllers, especially the impulse triggers on the Xbox One controller. The feedback it gave during the tech demos felt unreal. Feeling the brakes being applied on a car was cool and innovative but I'd personally appreciate that kind of quality haptic feedback in a gun. The gattling gun in their tech demo felt bland and gimmicky. It's really in the hand of the developers to utilize it well. But did the trigger rumble warrant a purchase of an Xbox One over a PS4? Definitely not, especially since the DS4 triggers are also a major improvement over the DualShock 3 (Sony claims the rumble has been improved in the DS4 but none of the demos I played had it).
As you all know, Sony used E3 to present the console itself. Being the critic I am, my first thoughts were: why is it slanted? I understand how it looks cool and unique but if only the back was and the front wasn't it would still be unique. This probably wont happen, but there could be an issue with the disc slot on the PS4 due to the slanted design and indented disc slot. When the PS3 ejects a disc, the disc pops out just enough to reveal around two-thirds of the center ring of the disc. I don't know about you guys, but I use my index finger in the middle of the disc when I grab a disc out of the PS3. With the disc slot being covered by a centimeter or so, if the disc doesn't eject far enough it could get annoying. It's weird that I think about these things, but hey Steve Jobs did it ( http://nyr.kr/ogF1Xy)! Anyway I'm sure (almost positive) Sony is aware of this and will just eject the disc a bit further, problem solved! Wow I got a bit off topic there. You can tell by now I have my quibbles about the PS4 design but in no way is it as poor as the Xbox One's in my opinion.
Finally the biggest impact to my decision, practically making all other factors irrelevant (sorry for wasting your time), are the games! Microsoft definitely redeemed itself at E3 with its games lineup. I'm one of the people who's in love with Titanfall. After seeing Respawn's Titanfall presentation I knew that was going to be my "Best Game of E3". I'm a big fan of mobility in shooters. Though seeing how Titanfall is being published by EA and has zero lasting ties to Microsoft that I can see, I fully expect it to eventually release on the PS4. There's also Halo which I'm a sucker for (I blame my friends). Those are really the only two games I'm interested in on the Xbox One. Games like Below, D4, and Quantum Break all look very intriguing but aren't enough to merit a purchase like Mass Effect 1 did for me with 360. For me, game series like Uncharted and The Last of Us which are inevitably coming out for the PS4 as exclusives are must purchases for one (not One). I might be able to survive without Halo 5, maybe.
The next-gen systems are so similar, especially in specs, it's hard to choose one over another without looking directly at the games. With the release of the current gen it was easy (at least easier) to argue one system over another based on things such as Blu-ray vs HD DVD, WiFi, HDD, HDMI, etc.. Games will have an even greater importance for the next-gen than it does for the current-gen (exclusive games and comparing multi-platform games). It appears the "winning" factor for the next-gen outside of games lie in either TV and/or social features (or maybe something currently unknown). Only time will tell.