Later this year Sony and Microsoft will release the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, respectively, each with their own strengths and weaknesses.
While both consoles are still a few months out, there’s already a lot of information out there about both. With pre-orders starting to run dry, now’s the time to decide which console is right for you.
Thankfully, a month after E3 there is quite a bit of information available for both consoles. Here’s a breakdown of how the consoles compare in terms of services based on what we know about them so far.
Exclusive Launch Games
While both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One will function as media boxes, the biggest reasons to buy either are the games. Both consoles promise at least a dozen exclusives in the first year, but only a few of those will make it to launch.
The PlayStation 4 has three big exclusives scheduled for launch: Killzone: Shadow Fall, Knack and Drive Club. The lineup includes something for a range of gamers including fans of shooters, platformers and racing games. The games show off the graphical capabilities of the PS4 and all look like fun.
Xbox One exclusive launch titles include Dead Rising 3, Ryse, Forza 5 and the free-to-play Killer Instinct. Microsoft’s lineup seems to cater mostly to hardcore gamers, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The games will all make use of the console’s mandatory Kinect sensor, adding a new dimension to each.
Both the Xbox One and PlayStation 3 will also have a number of multi platform games available at launch. Games like Watch Dogs, Assassin’s Creed IV, Need For Speed Rivals, Call of Duty: Ghosts and Battlefield 4. Those games won’t help sell either console, but will help ensure there’s no lack of games for either one.
Both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One will both make use of the online services available on current consoles. Both will also require monthly subscriptions to play online.
The PlayStation 4 will require a PlayStation Plus subscription to play games online, which costs gamers $50 each year. That subscription, however, comes with free games every month. Early PS4 adopters with PlayStation Plus will get Drive Club PS Plus Edition for free as a way to start off their game collection.
Microsoft’s Xbox One will use Xbox Live for online multiplayer, which costs $60 per year. The company will also use Azure and the cloud to help make games better. For example, the cloud will store driver data for Forza 5 gamers and create Drivatars which will replace the default AI in their friend’s games with racers that race just like them.
Sony and Microsoft will include new social aspects beyond just their respective online services.
The PlayStation 4 will let gamers stream their games to their friends on PlayStation Network or to anyone around the world using UStream.
Microsoft will include a new Game DVR feature in the Xbox One which will let gamers edit and share clips of their best gaming moments with the world. The console will also have Twitch TV support so gamers can stream their games online for all to see.
This generation game companies toyed with the idea of expanding games beyond the TV to smartphones and tablets, and the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One will take that to the next level.
Sony will release a special PlayStation App for iPhone and Android devices that will let gamers communicate with their PSN friends from anywhere. The app will also let them buy games for their console no matter where they are, watch game streams, and interact with games when they’re at home.
The PlayStation 4 will also feature remote play with the PlayStation Vita. Remote play will let gamers stream their PS4 games to the Vita as long as they’re on the same Wi-Fi network. It’s just like tablet mode on the Wii U, but with more games.
For the Xbox One Microsoft will expand the features of its current Smart Glass app. The next generation of Smart Glass will provide more information to players in real-time and can add more to games than it currently does. Not every game will use Smart Glass, but Microsoft has shown that games like Ryse will use it in unique and interesting ways.
Both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One have their own strengths and weaknesses. The PlayStation 4 is more powerful on paper and costs $100 less at launch, while the Xbox One has some unique cloud features. There is no right answer to the question of which console is better. The easiest way to decide is to figure out which exclusives you want more, or simply which controller you want to hold while you play Watch Dogs.