The internet is buzzing with next gen console talk after the Xbox Reveal today. I can’t outshout it, but I do have a few problems with today’s consoles that need fixing — not to mention some improvements I would like to see in my next gen console. The question is, will the PlayStation 4 or the Xbox One solve more gaming problems?
Problem 1: Slow Downloads
I often feel like I spend way too much time waiting for games to download. First, I wait for a game demo to download. Then I play the demo. If I like it, I exit the demo, find the full game, purchase it… and wait for it to download. This process can take hours.
PS4’s Answer: Thanks to Gaikai’s streaming technology, the PS4 will let you start playing games even while they’re still downloading — meaning you don’t have to wait for it to download in full before you launch it. Success!
You’ll also be able to stream the demo — specifically, a certain portion of the game (probably the beginning) –and if you feel like purchasing the full game in the middle of the free demo, you can do so and continue playing. There’s no need to exit the demo and start over.
Xbox One’s Answer: Although the Xbox Reveal didn’t go into downloading/streaming technology, its cloud service will allow instant updating of games, according to its FAQ site. That means there shouldn’t be a need to wait for downloads if you’re using the cloud service — making it comparable to the PS4.
Problem 2: Turning on Consoles is a Chore
Maybe I’m spoiled here, but I always feel like turning on my Xbox 360 is something of a process. I have to get up, push that button, wait for the 360 to warm up and launch (very noisily, might I add), and finally scroll around to find the game I want to play and, you know, wait for it to launch. (Yeah, I’m definitely being spoiled about this.)
Xbox One’s Answer: The Xbox One and its Kinect sensor will let you use voice commands and motion controls to speed things along — and yes, things are going to move much faster than before. For instance, to turn on your Xbox, you can just say, “Xbox on,” and it will recognize your voice to bring up your profile. Next, you can scroll from one page to another just by waving your hand. Instant switching lets you switch between games, TV shows, and movies seamlessly (or so the staged demo showed).
PS4’s Answer: The PS4 didn’t show off this kind of technology. As long as it turns on and loads faster than previous consoles, I’ll be happy… but for how long?
The Xbox One definitely has an edge here when it comes to encouraging me to be a spoiled couch potato. And in the long run, its voice and motion commands could make it a revolutionary console. I’m not even into Kinect games, but I’m still loving the voice and motion controls.
Problem 3: No Multitasking Capabilities
Sometimes when I’m playing a video game, I want to instantly look up something about it, such as the name of a voice actor or how to get through a tricky puzzle. (Yeah, I cheat sometimes.) It’s frustrating to have to look up that information on another device — or, when playing on my PC, minimize the game screen to do an internet search separate from the game.
Xbox One’s Answer: the Xbox One has a fantastic multitasking feature called Snap mode, which is my favorite thing about the console so far. You can activate it with voice commands or use motion controls to physically “grab” the screen in the air and make it smaller, then do an internet search or take a Skype call in the side bar.
PS4’s Answer: The PS4 will also have a multitasking capability, but we haven’t seen much of it yet. It will have an easy Suspend/Resume feature, letting you pause at any part of the game, leave the screen, and come back — but I’m hoping it will also let you do activities in a side bar area, like the Xbox One, so I don’t have to minimize the game screen completely like I do on PC now.
Problem 4: Socializing is Difficult… Especially on Game Consoles
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not the most sociable gamer, but part of the problem is not being able to find friends easily on current gen consoles. And I’m sorry, I sort of hate gamertags. It’s like Myspace back in the day, before Facebook cleaned everything up by having people use their real names. (Wow, what a concept!)
PS4’s Answer: The PS4 will let you make your own profile page with your real name and photo, helping you find real-world friends to add to your network. It sounds like a social network very much in the Facebook vein, but with an emphasis on what we all love in this corner of the world: games. Maybe it won’t be that different from what we already have, but here’s hoping real pictures and names are encouraged enough to make finding friends a breeze.
Next, the “Share” button will allow you to show screenshots and even gameplay footage to your network. (But don’t worry about spoilers; game developers can make certain parts of the game, such as those major boss fights, locked from sharing.) You can also share footage on networks like Facebook and Ustream, or do real-time streaming so your friends can watch you play — a very Twitch.tv move there.
Xbox One’s Answer: Xbox One also has a social aspect, but it seems to be about multiplayer matchmaking, creating a larger community, and helping you find recommendations — more like a Netflix service than a personal social network. Nancy Tellem, Microsoft entertainment and digital media president formerly with CBS, calls the Xbox One a “water cooler.”
The Xbox One will have pages of what’s trending and personalized recommendations for games as well as TV shows and movies. It’ll keep track of all your favorites. Meanwhile, cloud technology and 300,000 servers — that’s 20 times more servers than the Xbox 360 has — will allow more participants in multiplayer matches and a better matchmaking system. You’ll also have a dedicated DVR to let you capture gameplay footage.
I like everything the Xbox One is offering — especially the personalized recommendations, etc. — but not being a multiplayer person, I’m more interested in the PS4’s more personal approach to socializing and sharing. The PS4 will also predict what game you’d like and load it for you the next time you turn on your console, so the Xbox One doesn’t necessarily have the advantage in the personalized games recommendations department.
The Bottom Line
The PS4 and Xbox One have a lot in common when it comes to the major gaming problems I have, and frankly, both consoles are going to offer incredible improvements over current gen consoles. I’d like to get both.
But for now, I’m leaning toward purchasing the Xbox One for these reasons:
— Voice and motion controls (fingers crossed that they work well!)
— Snap mode multitasking in the side bar
— Bringing all of our entertainment together for easy access
Now, I know some people are complaining about the Xbox One focusing too much on entertainment besides video games, but I don’t view this as a negative thing. I mean, one of the draws of the PS3 is its Blu-ray player, right? (And the Xbox One has caught up there; it will feature Blu-ray!) Sure, we already have TV and DVD players, but if Xbox One wants to bring all of our entertainment onto one piece of equipment for easy access, I’m all for that.
Graphics quality is another potential tie-breaker, but since I already play on PC a lot, I’m not overly concerned with that on my console. Of course, what we’ve seen from the PS4 in that department is gorgeous. I love it. But if Xbox One has more features I care about, then graphics will come in second for me. And just because Xbox One hasn’t revealed a lot about its graphics doesn’t mean it hasn’t improved them, too… It just means we need more information.
Now it’s time to see those exclusive games for each console. I’ve always been an Xbox gamer, but the number and quality of PlayStation exclusive games has often made me feel like I’m missing out. I want to play Journey, Uncharted, and Ni no Kuni whenever I want. So if the PS4 continues this tradition of excellent exclusive games, I might have to go with the PS4.
Otherwise, unless E3 reveals something major, Xbox One will be the next gen console I purchase… first.