E3 Impressions – Sony vs Microsoft


You’ll have to excuse me, I’m a little tired. I was up until gone 4AM last night, watching Microsoft lose the console war.

It’s been on the cards for a while, to be honest. Ever since the big reveal last month, the Xbox One has been absolutely slated in the press, on user forums like Reddit, and even by my real life friends. People I know who have been loyal Xbox gamers for over ten years are flocking to Playstation like rats leaving a sinking ship. Barring some kind of miraculous recovery, the Xbox One is almost certainly going to be the last console Microsoft ever make.

The best part is, this is entirely Microsoft’s fault. Let’s have a look at just some of the ways they’ve fucked this up:

#1 – The Name

‘Xbox One’. How a name like that got past the approval process is entirely beyond me. It’s supposed to represent the idea that the new Xbox is the ‘one’ piece of entertainment hardware you need – something the circular imagery of the Xbox 360 did far better. It’s also wilfully misleading; I can already see the poor kids at Christmas whose confused grandparents found an absolute bargain on an ‘Xbox 1’ on eBay. Anything would’ve been better. Xbox 720. Xbox Infinity. Even just Xbox 2. Anything but this.

#2 – The Looks

Seriously. It looks like a goddamn VCR.

XBONE DonMattrick
“Hi, I’m Don Mattrick, and my hand is magnetically attracted to this godawful piece of shit”

It’s a real disappointment when compared to the nice, sleek lines of the 360 Slim that currently sits in my living room. Presumably the point of the flat sides is to enable the device to sit comfortably above and below other bits of living room kit, something the current model’s curved sides don’t really support. But isn’t the Xbox One supposed to be the only thing a consumer needs?

#3 – Terrible Decisions

Charging a fee to play used games. Having to check in online every 24 hours in order to play any games at all. Requiring Kinect to even function. These are just some of the many utterly ludicrous things that Microsoft seem to think it’s fine to force on consumers. I can only assume they were expecting Sony to follow suit, in what would have clearly been a massive victory for publishers over the general public.

Xbox One
Xbox, fuck off

Instead, we got something rather different. Sony’s conference started strong – proper gameplay footage of titles that I’ve really been looking forward to, like Watch_Dogs, Assassin’s Creed 4 and Destiny, alongside a selection of indies including Don’t Starve and Transistor, the new game from Bastion creators Supergiant. Things were looking good.

Then came the big guns.

ps4_used_is_ok_30639_640screenWatching Sony pick apart every single mistake Microsoft have made was wonderfully cathartic. After the arrogance with which Microsoft dictated their idea of the next generation as though there was no alternative, it really was a delight to watch them get shot down. It felt a bit like this:

No stupid DRM, no restrictions on used games, or lending to your friends. No online check-ins. No pointless voice control or TV bollocks getting in the way of it’s primary function of being a bloody games console. It’s even £80 cheaper than the Xbox One, at £349, and on top of all this it’s actually a nice looking box that I wouldn’t mind standing next to my TV.

PS4 reveal
Modern, with a retro twist. Well played, Sony.

But Sony weren’t done twisting the knife, oh no. They’re not just taking apart Microsoft’s console, they’re doing it with style. Before the conference was even over, this video was posted by the Playstation twitter account:

That video, aside from being hilarious, shows one important thing. This isn’t even a competition anymore. Sony aren’t competing against Microsoft to win the hearts and minds of gamers, because they don’t have to. All they ever had to do was wait for Microsoft to finish noisily shooting themselves in the foot, and clean up the mess.

I can honestly think of no reason why anyone would want to buy an Xbox One. All the most exciting games at E3 are also available on PS4 or PC, and the ludicrous amount of control MS wants to exert on their fans just for the privelege of playing games probably means it’s not even worth picking one up at a budget price a year or two down the line for any exclusives you might want to check out.

All I need to do is figure out where in the living room I’m going to put it.

It’s over. I don’t even know what Microsoft could do to recover at this point. Sure, there’s a new Halo, but the original creators of the franchise are now making Destiny, which is cross-platform anyway, and looks much better. Fanboys will buy it, and be disappointed.

Personally, I’m still going to stay predominantly a PC gamer – it’s just how I prefer to do things. But the PS4 looks like the perfect thing to relax with when I want to get away from the PC.

Xbox, go home.


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