Home Editorials The PS4 vs Xbox One – What Matters Now

The PS4 vs Xbox One – What Matters Now

It’s 2014 and we’ve finally made it through the launch period of the first new generation of gaming and entertainment systems in almost a decade.

We’re only eight months into this console generation. You’d think that in the short time that has passed since launch there wouldn’t be a ton of difference in how the PS4 compares against the Xbox One. But there is, and users thinking about purchasing either console have slightly different things they should be taking into account.

Should I buy an Xbox One or a PS4? The answer is complex, but price shouldn't be the only factor.
Should you buy an Xbox One or a PS4? The answer is complex, but price shouldn’t be the only factor.

Here’s a complete breakdown of what you need to know before choosing between the Xbox One or PS4 now, roughly eight months after launch and two months before the holiday buying season kicks off.

Hardware

With the Xbox One and PS4 being less than a year old, you’d think that nothing about the hardware – that is, the device you plug into your television set and insert game discs into – has changed.

For the most part, it hasn’t. The PS4 is still the more powerful console as far as internals are concerned.

Here is what we know about midnight Destiny release date events and plans so far.
The final version of Destiny will look just as good on the Xbox One as it does on the PS4 thanks to recent changes.

That being said, you shouldn’t base your buying decision off this alone, I suspect that in many cross-platform games it’s hard to tell the difference between games running on both. Microsoft has also changed its software so that video game developers can boost performance of games that don’t use the Kinect 2 sensor. That software change is how Destiny developer Bungie plans to release an Xbox One version of the game that has full 1080p resolution.

Looks are always going to be important to some people and the PS4 still wins out in that category.

The Xbox One is every bit the VCR-like black box with vents that users got last fall while the PS4 has a more angular body. Both consoles have new white variants coming that could make this a bit more interesting. There’s a special Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Xbox One coming later this year that gives the Xbox One its first real themed paint job.

Everyone who purchases an Xbox One still gets a chat headset, power cable HDMI cable and a single wireless controller. Users who opt for the $499 version get a Kinect 2 sensor as well. PS4 buyers get a wireless controller, headset, USB cable, HDMI cable, power cable and the console itself.

Controllers

The Xbox One’s controller remains a huge liability. It’s comfortable to hold and feels great in the hand, but it misses the innovation mark on a couple of different levels. First, there’s no built-in headset jack like there is with the PS4. Second, there’s no rechargeable battery in the Xbox One controller, either. One of these alone would be enough for a raised eye, but that someone at Microsoft thought not including both these things in order to save on costs was a good idea is a bit troubling.

PS4 controller vs. Xbox One controller.
PS4 controller and the Xbox One controller.

The Xbox One’s Play and Charge Kit costs $25. The Xbox One’s Stereo Headset Adapter costs an Additional $25. There’s no getting around it – today the PS4’s DualShock 4 controller still puts the Xbox One controller to shame.

Price & Bundles

The Xbox One loses when it comes to the controller flat out, but lately Microsoft has improved on other core experiences in huge ways.

You finally get to choose whether you get the Xbox One’s Kinect 2 sensor or not. In early June the company released an Xbox One console that doesn’t include the Kinect 2 sensor and has a price tag of just $399. The $499 Xbox One with Kinect 2 sensor is still available, though. New Xbox One bundles that include games at no additional charge are also popping up everywhere. Today there’s the Madden 15 Xbox One bundle for just $399. Forza 5 and Titanfall have their own bundles, too.

Read: Xbox One Bundles – Which to Buy 

By comparison Sony isn’t giving users free bundled games inside the box. Instead, it’s counting on them to set up an account and join PlayStation Plus, which isn’t a bad strategy. It’s just not as straight forward. Microsoft gives Xbox One users with an Xbox Live Gold account two free games a month too, but it’s changed its program to match the PS4. When your subscription stops on either console, your free games stop working. The PS4 still costs $399 and has only a single hardware configuration.

Games

No matter what you might hear, these consoles are still very focused on providing users with a decent gaming experience. A lot has changed about gaming, but one thing that has remained constant is why users purchase a specific console: exclusive games are still the keys to success, that one thing that can overcome sluggish sales and botched initial launches.

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

Exclusives

With its E3 2014 Media Briefing Microsoft focused heavily on games. The company spent two hours hauling out game developer after game developer. Here’s how the company’s exclusives shake out so far. If you’re a fan of first-person shooters the Xbox One will be the only console you can play Halo 5: The Guardians on next year. Xbox One owners can also expect a new edition of Crackdown, and the next Tomb Raider game to be available on the platform before it goes anywhere else. This year there’s Halo: The Master Chief Collection and Sunset Overdrive.

Read: The 10 Best Xbox One, PS4 & Wii U games from E3 2014

PS4 users do get a bunch of special games of their own. Uncharted 4 is coming at some point. DriveClub is coming later this year too. It’s also definitely worth noting that the PS4 has the only real next-generation baseball game in town with MLB 14: The Show. To baseball fans, that has to be worth three exclusives alone.

The PS4 and Xbox One each come with exclusive titles.
The PS4 and Xbox One each come with exclusive titles.

Both consoles are heavily courting and promoting titles by independent developers too. Today the PS4 boasts dozens of decent indie games to buy on the cheap. It also has an impressive array of free-to-play games available, like DC Universe Online. Microsoft isn’t doing nearly as well in the free-to-play games space. That being said, it is getting Dungeons and Dragons, in the form of Neverwinter, sometime next year. Free-to-play games don’t have a cover charge but do include extras that users have to pay for.

Today, that’s the gaming ball-game for the Xbox One and PS4. More nuanced buyers will also want to explore specific topics, like how many entertainment apps each has or whether one console’s online multiplayer network is markedly better than the other. I file those as personal indicators, things that you’ll want to examine based on your own outlook. Mostly, that’s because they’re really debatable.

For example, Microsoft was the first to introduce an online gaming service, but hasn’t really introduced anything as innovative as the PlayStation Now video game streaming service that Sony revealed earlier this year. On the other hand, the PlayStation Network has had a few serious outages, and is routinely taken down for upgrades for hours.

It is worth noting that Microsoft has been super aggressive in updating the Xbox One with new features. Just this week a massive update containing external storage support for media and games began rolling out. Sony has done alright by PS4 buyers, adding coveted features every so often, but that’s nothing compared to what Microsoft has done.

The PS4 is on paper the most powerful console, but games on the Xbox One look just as good to the average gamer.

Choose what’s right for you.

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24 Comments

  1. darren

    09/01/2014 at 3:18 pm

    I own both consoles and would have to disagree heavily with you regarding the controller. The xbox one controller is MUCH more comfortable and its battery life is far superior. The xbox live service is also leaps and bounds ahead of playstations network.

    Having said that, some of those sweet exclusives to playstation and its more smooth gui are great.

    Reply

  2. nettrick nowan

    09/01/2014 at 3:40 pm

    I purchased both consoles but I’m keeping only the PS4, mostly because I play multiplatform games and I can’t justify keeping both because of lack of time and so many redundant titles. I think I sort of agree with your comment “…but games on the Xbox One look just as good to the average gamer” because that is what many players say to me when I tell them I can see the differences in the systems graphically. Most PS4 titles to date look better than their Xbox One counterparts to me maybe, because of so many years of gaming, I might be more than an “average gamer.”

    Reply

  3. Bryan Clyne (@BryanClyne)

    09/01/2014 at 3:55 pm

    I think your review is fair and unbiased for the most part, but you really neglected the Playstation exclusive/timed-exclusive games and massive support for indies. MLB and Driveclub? What about The Order, Bloodborne and No Mans Sky? Granted, Playstation doesn’t yet have a ‘Halo’ competitor but there really are a lot of exciting Playstation exclusives on the horizon. And nothing is mentioned about VR, which could have a big impact on gaming.

    Reply

  4. Fred Burnardo

    09/01/2014 at 4:14 pm

    Hi everyone. Reading the above comments they all have valid points. I my self have all 3 consoles and find the hardware on the Nintendo U and its experience in console design to still be slightly above the other two. For example the games all run smooth and loading times are hardly noticeable. The controller also being state of the art and with a built in screen makes a huge difference. I’m also really glad to see the ps4 and Xbox one have put in enough grunt in their hardware to keep up with the Wii U so all camps can play games at similar quality and fidelity.

    Reply

  5. john

    09/01/2014 at 5:34 pm

    I owned an Xbox one and returned it for a ps4 because if the graphics gap. That said, the controller for the Xbox was far superior to the ps4’s. This article has that section completely backwards.

    Reply

  6. Justin

    09/01/2014 at 7:06 pm

    Fred, The Wii U is keeping up with PS3 & Xbox 360 graphic wise not the PS4 & Xbox One. The latter are truly next generation consoles. There are a number of third-party developers not even releasing games on the Wii U because of the console’s limitations.

    Reply

  7. john

    09/01/2014 at 9:30 pm

    Thanks for the article and I agree with Darren. Your review is largely balanced but I don’t understand why you came down so hard on the xbox controller. I agree that those features are missing and there is room for improvement but if gameplay is the main thing we are concerned about then many like myself and Darren would argue that the xbox controller is superior. My understanding is that it was generally seen as better for gameplay last generation so it didn’t need as many upgrades (though this is more reason that they should have covered the basics as you point out). I realize you can’t add everything and only other thing I would add that probably doesn’t impact most gamers is that xbox live gold comes with free fitness workouts for Kinect 2. I use these pretty often to stay in shape and some high profile people are on these like the guy from p90x and russel wilson from the Seahawks.

    Reply

  8. Ethan Sequeira

    09/01/2014 at 10:41 pm

    This is bs written by the author. It is biased in each argument. The xbox one controller is worth the money as you get many features which you don’t get on the ps4 (vice versa) such as rumble motors in b the triggers, offset thumbs tick, wireless via wifi which has a difference and the battery life using A A batteries are amazing. I change them every month and I play everyday! And you can buy the controller with the play and charge kit together for a cheaper price. Yes I agree with you that xbox has some better exclusives to look forward to but ps4 has some good exclusives like the order 1886 and blood borne. I find it funny that you did not mention the UI, the extra features that come with a kinect and ps4 eye.

    Reply

  9. Adam

    09/02/2014 at 3:25 am

    I have owned each of the three current offerings for consoles since launch. I can say with all certainty that the staggered thumbsticks of the xbox one controller hold no advantage and the rumble motors in said sticks are a bit awkward and I know many owners that cant stand it. However the dualshock 4 has spaced the sticks better so that collision isn’t an issue and the touchpad innovation adds a new set of ways with which to control and play your games. The xbox one controller offers nothing but the same old. In terms of battery life, I notice they are about the same however for 8$ I got myself an 18ft long charge cable for my ps4 and for 25$ I got a shorter cable and a rechargeable battery for my xbox one controller. More expensive and less effective. I love all my consoles but the bottom line is that the worst looking title on my PS4 looks better and runs smoother than the best on my xbox one. My xbox one only wins in the multimedia center category, namely cable and satellite t.v. interface. In other words, it beats my PS4 at NOT being a gaming system. As pretty as the xbox one interface is, even thst is slower running and slower in practice than the Sony interface. If your a hardcore gamer, get the PS4 unless you cant live without halo. If your an occasional gamer, get the one as it will handle all your multimedia needs in one package. .

    Reply

    • charlesclarke3

      09/02/2014 at 8:58 am

      Interface – 20 quick clicks does not be 1 possibly slightly slower click. You are just wrong on all point on the controller. Looks – And there are tons of side by sides showing even disparate resolution games looking better on xbox one than on ps4. Sony just looks like trash compared to XBox One and thats a fact.

      Reply

  10. ps4 is trash

    09/02/2014 at 7:52 am

    Had the ps4 until july. The consoles features and games are inferior to xbox ones. Traded it in for xbox one. If you want a bunch of worthless indies and a completely worthless playstation now service that will cost your life savings to play 20 year old games at 720 p with pkenty of lag….ps4 is your machine.

    Reply

  11. junio

    09/02/2014 at 8:10 am

    Xbox one tgh better machine by far. As far as power…xbox one has more dedicated RAM and has EsRam that is completely absent from ps4. Additionaly xbox live is massively more stable and powerful than ps4s psn….psn was just down for 2 days following the ddos attack while xbox live was unaffected. Insomniac publicly stated that they chose xbox one for its coming exclusive sunset overdrive because of xbox ones muscle.

    Reply

  12. Jim

    09/02/2014 at 8:31 am

    I am enjoying my Wii U alot! I will buy the xbox one for my daughter in the near future! I will not waste money on a ps4. Or any useless stuff from sony.

    Reply

  13. wow factor

    09/02/2014 at 8:35 am

    I own both ps4 and xbox.
    Ps4 network is garbage.
    My buddies ever since the ps4 online dilemma went the way of the xbone.
    We need our madden nfl to play as stable as possible to avoid excuses.
    ps4 is now for sale.

    Reply

  14. charlesclarke3

    09/02/2014 at 8:42 am

    How much is Sony paying you you douche. The xbox controller has a prorietary USB port on the controller. Headset jack my arse. The port on the xbox controller will allow for some high def surround sound. No more plugging additional equipment into the console. Xbox One > PS4

    Reply

  15. soultrappa

    09/02/2014 at 9:01 am

    Wow a lot of fanboys posting here. Wow factor how much you selling the PS4 for? I would like to spend a bit more time with one apart from the time i spend on one at my brothers. I got the Xbox One at launch and i am more than happy with my purchase. I dont see the difference between the graphics of FPS’s on wither system until i stop moving and actually start looking around the environment. Hahaha not that i do that often as its an FPS so im normally running around like mad looking for people to shoot. In this sense graphics mean nothing so i am not bothered that they look marginally better on PS4 (so im told) thing is if i posted 2 pics from destiny from the PS4 and Xbox without labels i wonder how many people would guess which is which.

    I love the xbox not because of the graphics but because of the update implementation (including the xbox feedback site), the use of kinnect for voice commands, the media capabilities and i dont mean pluggin tv into it (just yet), the way it turns on or off my whole entertainment system from tv to sound with just the words ‘xbox off’, gold and the free titles, being able to snap screens and being able to start in a game exactly where you left off when you powerdown the console or switch from another app. There are loads more things but none of them are the actual games. I am still playing better games on the previous gen and have not been wowed by any game from the PS4 or Xbox one which is a shame as these are both supposed to be gaming machines. So on that note xbox has my hand by far – well the kinectless one not by that far – as it plays games and does loads of other stuff too.

    Reply

  16. roger

    09/02/2014 at 10:13 am

    My brother hot ps4 last xmas and i purchased with my own hard earned cash. I am an xbox fan from the 360 days but i have had many many hours on both. The xbox one is the better machine by far. Not only are the exclusives significantly better one xbox one but all the games run smoother online. With a superior online service, better features and apps (nfl premium baby!), better exclusives and multiplats performing better on xbox one (madden 15, UFC, wolfenstein, destiny) since the sdk updates xbox one is my choice….and my brothers too as he spends all his time on my xbox one.

    Reply

  17. MisterSir

    09/02/2014 at 11:04 am

    I seriously disagree on the controller segment of the article. Both are solid controllers that feel great and are comfortable to use. That being said, I still favor the Xbox One controller and I love that the Xbox One controller doesn’t have a built-in rechargeable battery. I prefer to use rechargeable AA batteries I bought from the store. I don’t want to plug in my controller to charge it. Just put in freshly recharged batteries and put the dead ones on the charger. That’s one of the ways the Xbox One controller is better, not worse, than the PS4.

    Reply

  18. Sergio Castellanos

    09/02/2014 at 12:32 pm

    You have got to be kidding me, this is about as biased as it gets. He didn’t mention the snap feature at all. Nor the smartglass App, which is really cool and useful. Bio-metric sign in, our controller is better for gaming. Guess rumble triggers aren’t a big thing to him, really cool if you ask me. The kinect is super awesome. We have an HDMI in port, much better network. surley sony paid this guy. He is Garbage and this is very biased. Somebody slap him.

    Reply

  19. sean

    09/02/2014 at 3:54 pm

    Xboxone has a smart match systemwhich makes rep useful. Try not to make all the little kids bad players though, everyone was 10 no need to step on them. I’m glad that people who deserve it now can Get quality games. GG and PPs all around. Want that bloodborne though

    Reply

  20. sean

    09/02/2014 at 3:59 pm

    Oh and i just have to say to soultrapper, you don’t even care about those things. As in, No One Cares

    Reply

  21. Lookout

    09/07/2014 at 5:23 am

    Biggest bullshit I have ever read in my life the Xbox absolutely wipes the floor with the ps4 at the moment and that’s coming from someone with both consoles. The controller shouldn’t have even been brought up, the speaker and rechargeable battery are TERRIBLE the battery dies in two hours on the ps4. The games, well obviously Xbox is killing ps4 with the line up for the next two years and the online is ten times better. Whoever wrote this obviously doesn’t have a Xbox lolololol the ps4 controller is honestly just as bad as the ps3 you should be ashamed of yourself for typing so much crap in one article.

    Reply

  22. y7jzdgy

    09/07/2014 at 7:45 am

    I have not read an X1 vs PS4 comparison yet that actually gets it right. Both systems have their share of big budget exclusives and yes, the PS4 is slightly more capable but it also offers less features and has an inferior online network. I would think that more features and a better online network would more than make up for a small edge in graphics; especially when the PS4 still has a few games that aren’t even full 1080p! Not to mention 60fps. As it stands right now the ps4 has a few more 1080p games to it’s credit than the X1 – that’s all! Jeez, I hate to say it because it’s been said enough but if graphics are all a person cares about then why the hell would they only settle for a PS4 anyway?

    Reply

  23. DIXON

    09/08/2014 at 11:40 am

    SMDH I SEE TOO MANY XBOX FANBOYS ON HERE TALKING CRAP. I SWEAR XBOX FANBOYS ARE THE WORST. EVERY WHERE YOU GO YOU SEE XBOX FANBOY ALWAYS SAYING THAT XBOX IS BETTER, XBOX IS THE BEST SYSTEM EVER. LOL COME ONE GUYS. ENJOY YOUR CONSOLE AND STOP WITH THIS CONSOLE WAR

    I HAVE ALL 3 WIIU, XB1, PS4 AND I LOVE THEM ALL BECAUSE I’M A GAMER. I LOVE TO PLAY GAMES.

    Reply

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