Gamescom, if you don’t know, is a trade fair for the gaming industry and it is held each year in Cologne, Germany. Open for one day to press and then four days for the public, Gamescom brings upcoming and exciting titles to the public before the Winter barrage of releases.
So with this upcoming important date on the calendar, one question floats around in the back of my mind: “How can Xbox regain its popularity?”. After E3, pretty much everyone walked away with the agreement that Sony had bested Microsoft in what has become the next gen arms race. Sony has learned from the mistakes of the PS3 but Microsoft fell into the trap of the ‘doomed third console’ myth.
First, let’s remind ourselves of what we’re looking at with both machines:
• CPU – Sony AMD Jaguar, Xbox custom CPU
• RAM – Sony 8GB GDDR5, Xbox 8GB DDR3
• Cores – Both 8
• Cloud Storage – Both Yes
• Storage – Both 500GB Hard Drive
• Backwards Compatibility – Both No (but PS4 should have streaming via Gaikai)
• Optical Drive – Both Blu-ray
• Region Lock – Both No
Those are the main specs and as you can see, the power of both these machines isn’t that different. The main differences are the RAM and CPU; to break it down though they both have the same amount of space for RAM i.e. 8GB which is the same of a very good gaming computer. As for the GDDR5 and DDR3, it relates to how fast your motherboard works basically. Given that Microsoft are charging more for their console, you’d think that hopefully they’d at least be matching Sony’s specs for the PS4, but we’ll get to that.
So in terms of power, there isn’t a great difference but there still is one. This doesn’t mean anything to the average gamer, so let’s look instead at what was revealed at E3:
• Cost – Xbox $499, £429, 499 Euros. Sony $399, £349, 399 Euros.
• Games – Xbox 15 exclusives 1st year (Titan fall (PC too), Dead rising 3, Halo 5) Sony 20 exclusives 1st year (Killzone, Driveclub, The Order 1886)
• DRM – Both; No ownership/lending restrictions on disc based games
• No online connection requirement (Xbox One on set up is all)
• Optional 3rd Party online DRM for online Components
• Streaming – Xbox Twitch, Sony Ustream
• Subscription – Xbox $59, Sony $50
So Xbox will be costing more to buy and to have a subscription for. However Xbox costs 100 £/$/Euros more and part of the reason behind that is due to the fact that the Xbox comes with the Kinect 2. Sony doesn’t come with the Eye and that’s part of the pricing difference right there. Both Consoles offer quite similar things though. You can stream off of both consoles, each now requires a subscription to play online and the DRM is now the same.
So Xbox lost the console war at E3 mainly due to the higher price, not putting emphasis on the reasons behind the price (the inclusion of the Kinect 2) and also the original DRM policy which meant no trading of games with friends, no pre-owned games, etc. Personally, this wasn’t a big issue for me. I don’t trade games with friends anymore and I’ve also had issues with pre-owned games being scratched and such so I didn’t care. I was far more interested in day one Xbox Market releases – I’m tired of discs, I want my digital era of gaming (that’s also a reason for me moving over to Steam, yep, I sold out my console friends).
After the initial fall out, Microsoft decided to reverse the most controversial part of `The One`, that being the DRM policies. Now the DRM matches that of Sony’s PS4, but with the damage already done. Xbox has the upcoming Gamescom to hopefully right the wrong that has already been done and hopefully tie if not pull ahead of Sony. So how exactly is Microsoft going to do that?
The first would be if not explaining that the difference in cost is down to the Kinect coming with The One, then hopefully making it not mandatory in order to bring the price down. Also one thing I noticed from E3 was that Sony showed off a lot of cross platform games too, so if Microsoft were to back their exclusives but also shine some light on some of the cross platform titles, then the console might look a bit more up to scratch with the PS4. After all Microsoft ignored games like Watch Dogs at their conference and for such a big game, that was a big mistake. Also I feel that Microsoft should really play up some of the new gold features such as the two free games, as currently they’re playing catch up with Sony on such features.
Ultimately I feel that Microsoft can’t just tie with Sony as they’ve already damaged their own name with the original DRM policy. They’ll have to go above and beyond, give larger insights into some interesting games and roll out some new apps/features in order to quantify the higher asking price and to bring back some of the previous fans.
Let us know what’d make you consider getting an Xbox One and what you’re most looking forward for the next-gen consoles.