Xbox One vs PS4: What Still Matters When Picking a New Console

Often times it seems like Microsoft’s Xbox One entertainment console and Sony’s PS4 gaming console are pretty similar. In some ways that matter they aren’t.

After announcing a higher price for the Xbox One, Microsoft has spent the last five or six months throwing out everything we knew about its vision for the Xbox One. Microsoft only sold a version with Kinect at launch.  Since then it’s backtracked and  is now selling a core Xbox One that matches the PS4’s $399 price tag. Xbox Live was required for watching services like Netflix and Hulu Plus on the Xbox One. That too is gone. Now the Xbox One and PS4 both allow users to download entertainment apps and use them at no additional charge beyond the service itself.

Comparing PS4 vs Xbox One? Here are seven things buyers need to know.

There are more similarities, but the point is the same. Last June or July there were a lot of key differences between the Xbox One and the PS4. With many of those differences gone it’s easy to think that users are buying the same experience.

They aren’t. Even at this juncture there are important differences between the Xbox One and PS4. It’s those differences that matter more than ever when deciding to pick up either console.

The Controller

The PS4 and Xbox One controllers add new features.

The PS4 and Xbox One controllers add new features.

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There is nothing more elemental, more essential than the controller. Devices like the Kinect 2 sensor and the PlayStation Camera have stepped in to provide lite players with a way to interact with their games. Still, it’s the traditional controller that most users will interact with for the next few years. They couldn’t be more different on the Xbox One and PS4.

The Xbox One controller is just an evolution of its immediate successor, the Xbox 360 wireless controller. Two bumpers and two triggers still line the top of it and there are two thumbsticks for users to control in-game cameras and the character’s they’re playing as. There’s a simple microUSB port that allows the Xbox One to charge the controller — with a battery pack that’s sold separately. Users can pair it with a computer if they’re into PC gaming. Inside are rumble motors that game developers can program against to make their games  feel more realistic.

The PS4’s controller is much closer to a revolution. Sony hasn’t moved any of the buttons or thumbsticks. The Two thumbsticks still sit equally at the bottom of the controller’s face and directional buttons sit at the top. Select and Start are now off to the side because the PS4’s controller sports a touchpad for controlling games. Sony packed in a Share button for chronicling game exploits online. There’s also a bright light sensor that can be paired with a PlayStation Camera for motion control.

The entire controller is rechargable and has a built-in headphone jack for listening to games and music and disturbing others. Xbox One users need two accessories just to plug headphones directly into their controller or recharge instead of buying batteries every month or so. For new buyers those are two key differences.

Exclusive Game Play

There are many games available on both the PS4 and Xbox One.

Titles that are available on both consoles sometimes have exclusive content users can get elsewhere.

Exclusive first-party games used to act as the main attraction for console buyers. Those are still around, but today both Microsoft and Sony are bringing exclusive game play into the mix. The process works the same way exclusive games do. Hoping to attract as many buyers to their console as they can, Microsoft and Sony both teamed up with game developers and publishers to make add-on content and downloadable extras available on their platforms. In theory, this leads to users who are very serious about a particular game buying the console with all the available DLC.

New versions of the scheme are always on the horizon. In the past month Sony has announced that PS4 players of Batman: Arkham Knight will have access to some exclusive DLC content. Xbox One owners can expect to get Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare content before anyone else.

There’s really no way to be on the right side of this trend. Buyers can make sure that the console they buy has a history of getting exclusive DLC for certain franchises but that’s it. For example, Xbox has gotten early Call of Duty content before. PS4 users should know that before purchasing that system.

Ecosystem

Playing Assassin's Creed 4 from the PS4 on the PS Vita.

Playing Assassin’s Creed 4 from the PS4 on the PS Vita.

Ever since Gillett shipped its first razor with replaceable blades companies have tried to get consumers to live in their ecosystem.

The Xbox One is part of Microsoft’s push for today’s consumers. It uses the same account as other Microsoft products and integrates with their OneDrive cloud storage service and Skype messaging service. Microsoft extends the Xbox experience with Windows. Windows 7 & Windows 8 users can stream audio and video content directly from their devices to the Xbox One.

Sony’s ecosystem play is far more extensive than what Microsoft’s is – at least in the hardware space – offering users. First there’s the Entertainment Network account that allows users to purchase movies, television shows and books on Sony’s smartphones and tablets. Then there’s the PlayStation Vita and PlayStation TV. Both have their own games but they also act as an extension of the PS4. Vita and PS TV users can connect to their PS4 and play games using that device and a controller. Who cares if the PS Vita doesn’t have the most popular games, when they can connect to their PS4 and play its games?

Unlike the things that brought the Xbox One and PS4 to equal ground based on pricing, the things here aren’t something that either company can alter overnight. That makes them bellwethers, differences that potential Xbox One and PS4 buyers can and should base their purchasing decisions on.

An Xbox One without the Kinect 2 sensor costs users $399 as does the PS4. A version of the Xbox One with Kinect 2 sensor costs $499.

Comments

  1. Bob says

    What about the Wii U? Supports backwards compatibility, uses the same controller from it’s previous console so you don’t have to buy new controllers, the new gamepad allows off-TV gameplay (much like your argued Vita), the gamepad also has a headphone jack so you don’t need to buy an extra accessory – in fact, the gamepad has a built in mic so you don’t have to buy a headset at all if you don’ want to, Wii U also has multiple ways to play so you can choose which controller feels right. There’s your revolution. The DS4 is nothing impressive what so ever, the Wii U gamepad as all those features and then some. FUTUREMORE, you failed to mention the Xbox One impulse triggers, there is a built-in rumble feature dedicated to each trigger. The Wii U also has the most games running at 1080p 60fps, the most exclusives and the highest rated exclusives. Where’s that argument?

  2. Paul says

    Has the author bothered to even look at the Microsoft ecosystem? I can buy and rent TV shows and movies on Xbox video and watch them on my phone or my tablet. I play Live enabled games on my Windows Phone and earn achievements on my gamertag. I can message my friends via Xbox Live on my phone if they are online. And Playstation TV is a reaction to Xbox creating its own content for Live.

    And that does not take into consideration the excellent points Bob made in the previous comment.

    Just a clueless article written by a Sony fan.

  3. Kevin says

    I agree with Bob. The DS4 isn’t at all revolutionary. It has a light bar and a touchpad, neither of which you ever use. It also has the worst battery of all next gen gamepads. Wii U is cheaper, has better exclusives, and better remote play. Remote play with vita requires you to remap all the buttons. PS4 is nothing but hype. Unless you are obsessed with Uncharted etc Xbox One was an epic fail, but they at least have better exclusive games than PS4. I can’t think of one game on PS4 made by Sony that I’d want to play. I’ve played Infamous Second Son, it was boring and repetitive.

    @Bob, most Wii U games are 720p and upscaled. Doesn’t matter though, because the games are so damn good.

  4. SpraYeR says

    Plain and simply till the steambox comes out the ps4 has the best specs.
    Faster memory and more graphics cores then all other consoles.
    Why own an xbone when you can have a superior steambox this christmas
    And a ps4 for exclusive titles like 7 charted 4 and the last of us remastered.
    I won’t need a steambox as I have a metabox gaming laptop, the ps4 is good
    In the lounge room and offers all the features that xbone does anyway.
    Steambox will start at 650 bucks and already have an i5 and gtx 660ti by
    Default producing more power then the ps4 and xbone which use jaguar amd apu’s.
    Also your ps4 will spy on you less. Xbone kinect can monitor your heart rate just by
    Looking at you apparently ps4 and steambox all the way.

  5. Kevin says

    @SpraYeR – If all you care about is tech specs then just go build your own PC now, don’t wait for SteamBox or PS4. I’ll never understand the argument that games are art, and then demand high specs and ultra realism as the most important aspect of video games. That’s Leonardo DaVinci vs Vincent Van Gogh or Edvard Munch.

  6. monstersmash16 says

    @Kevin – I agree, I mean people say that games aren’t always supposed to look realistic, and then say they want the graphics to be as realistic as possible. i.e. Little Big Planet. Fans say they want realistic graphics in a game about a sack – man, (no offense Sackboy).

  7. Kevin says

    @sampson ireman – I don’t own a shitbox1, but only a Wii U, Xbox 360, and some older consoles.

    Exactly what do you use the DS4 touchpad for in a significant way? It seems from your post you don’t really have anything significant to add to the class.

  8. Arnold Pain says

    Wii U never gets the recognition it deserves for some reason. Its an amazing console, and at a GREAT price.
    Anyway, PS4 > XB1.
    All consoles are great though. Cant go wrong with any of them IMO(Thats why I own all three)

  9. Kevin says

    @Arnold Pain – I owned infamous Second Son, and swiping up to absorb powers from an inanimate object is hardly anything significant. You could just press any button, honestly.

    I would agree that with hardware specs, the PS4 wins. If you take exclusive AAA games into account, then you have to hand it to Nintendo, and then Microsoft.

    Sony currently seems to currently only be interested in flooding their system with cheaply made indie games, and although I do enjoy indie games, its not what gives me incentive to purchase a $400 machine for.

  10. SuicideNinja says

    The Wii U is a good concept but the OS is slow and the game collection is very thin. The latter, aside from lower sales-over-time comparisons is why it isn’t talked about. It is already the old kid on the block.

    I was impressed with it, but I don’t care for any games they have at the moment. all three are still a bit thin on games but the newer consoles have a few games worth playing.

    I am still waiting for a game that makes the PS4 worth buying. The controller is a big improvement for sure. But the exclusives weren’t anything special to me last Gen so I want to see something new.

  11. Kevin says

    @Suicide Ninja – The Wii U OS is a tad bit slower than PS4, but I would hardly call it slow or too slow.

    In regards to the Wii U library you’re just regurgitating what every media outlet is saying. The Wii U has a fully fleshed out library of games. Currently, they have Super Mario Bros U, Pikmin 3, Super Mario 3D World, Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze, The Legend of Zelda Wind Waker HD, The Wonderful 101, Mario Kart 8, and more I can’t entirely name. Also, this year the Wii U is getting Bayonetta 2, Hyrule Warriors, Captain Toad Treasure Tracker, and Super Smash Bros U. Next year will be Yoshis Woolly World, Kirby’s Curse, Xenoblade Chronicles X,Splatoon, probably Shin Megami Tensei Fire Emblem, and Zelda U.

    Nintendo puts Sony and Microsoft to shame on exclusives. Every game is also capable of remote play on the Wii U GamePad.

  12. Tim says

    Xbox One’s Kinect voice control, One Guide TV integration, impulse triggers, app snapping, Xbox Music and Video apps on Windows / Android / iOS, Smartglass, instantly switching from games to adopts to TV… these things don’t matter?? Those things define the Xbox One experience.

  13. Kevin says

    @Tim – There is no Xbox Video app on Android. Kinect seems to only work part of the time and adds little to gaming. The One Guide is pointless without DVR integration. Who watches live appointment TV anymore? Xbox 360 OS is more intuitive and useful than Ones. Hit the guide button and have a menu with everything accessible pops up. Xbox one is strange and confusing. It was a miss. I doubt they’ll make that mistake next gen.

    • Tim says

      I stand corrected regarding Xbox Video. The Xbox One OS categorizes items much more simply than Xbox 360. When I explored it for the first time my first thought was “that’s it?” But everything I needed was present and easy to find. Xbox One OS is a “less is more” experience compared to Xbox 360. A menu that shows up around the game is no less intuitive than one that sits on top of it; especially when any app can be accessed instantly with a simple voice command. Ultimately, though, better is always a matter of opinion…

  14. julian says

    You all make me laugh it’s not about what’s the best or which is more power full etc etc … its all about what each individual is looking for in there gaming experience . Considering there are billions of gamers it would be impossible to please everyone . Hence the argument over which is better will never really be answered .

  15. BFPR says

    I would just let Sony build the hardware, Microsoft the OS and entertainment experience, then make a partnership with Nintendo to bring their awesome games. That would be the day all this fanboy nonsense would end.

  16. Joey says

    @Kevin If you really think Sony comes in third in terms of exclusives, you really need to check your facts mate. I’ll give you that Nintendo may be first in that area, but Xbox second? Get over yourself. Sony owns over 12 First Party developers that make AAA games. In the last 7 years alone, Sony has made more exclusives, than Xbox put out in the whole time they’ve been in the gaming industry, all of which won countless awards. I’m all for being fair in these articles, but man you are one delusional person.

  17. Kevin says

    @Joey – It is true that Sony owns several first party studios, but so does Microsoft. Owning studios alone doesn’t mean anything without game announcements. What’s important right now is the present, and very very near future, and currently Sony hasn’t shown any interest in announcing any 1st party games outside of Little Big Planet 3. The narrative right now is to buy a PS4 because someday, someday there will be excellent exclusive games. I don’t see the reason to drop $400 on a system for maybes.

  18. charlesclarke3 says

    Did we mention that the XBox One Controller lasts a week on a charge while the PS4 controller lays limp after an afternoon? You’re such a PMS 4 douche. Revolution? Touchpad? You can put your phone on your xbox one controller throw up smartglass and have a fully impersive experience. The lumia 625 will have 9 hours of wifi play battery life which is perfect for gaming and you are gonna get a smart phone anyway. touch pad = revolution? You are an idiot. And blow off the Vita get a Windows Phone 1520. Skulls of the Shogun has cross platform play and so do many other titles. XBox One has always been better hardware and perspective wise than PS4. XBox One will still maintain thier same vision. They just reordered thier timeline of features to fit what gamers wanted.

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