Picking Sony over Microsoft Next-Gen

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(Updated 2/27/2013) Every time a new generation of systems arrives, I tend to have my decisions already made on what order I will be buying each companies systems.  Nintendo’s systems are a certainty for me, even if it is the unpopular decision.  Mario, Metroid, Zelda and almost every other Nintendo franchise is something I can’t pass up.  However choosing my other system isn’t as much of a simple must-have, it becomes “which one first”.  The last generation I picked up a Playstation 2 a while before I ever got a XBox, PS2 had a huge library of games and the XBox had fun online, when online wasn’t common.  In this current generation I picked the Wii at launch, and then about 7 months later I became more interested in playing some HD games on my new TV.  I quickly picked the 360 over the PS3 and never regretted it, I still don’t. Most of my friends had a 360, very few of them had a PS3 and this was pretty important for any online gaming, borrowing/trading games, co-op, etc.  The 360 had a bigger library at the time (due to being out longer) and the 360 was significantly cheaper (I believe about $200).  I didn’t buy a PS3 until 4 years later in 2011, and I primarily bought it to play NFL Sunday Ticket without having a full DirecTV subscription.

The next generation is quickly approaching and before anything official has even been announced, I’m pretty sure my mind is made up…I’m going with Sony.   Now this doesn’t mean I’m never going to get Microsoft’s next system, and this doesn’t even mean I’m going to pick up a Playstation 4 at launch, but right now Sony is winning the war and I don’t see how Microsoft can change that.  Below is my breakdown of some of the most important factors and reasons for my decisions.exclusives

Exclusive Games: – It seems that 3rd Party Exclusives are almost a thing of the past at this point so it isn’t likely Sony or Microsoft will be grabbing any big “Grand Theft Auto” size exclusives for their consoles.  This means it will mainly come down to the 1st & 2nd party software, where I think Sony crushes Microsoft.  With all of Microsoft’s success’ with the XBox360 this generation, I feel they began to focus more on the TV entertainment apps and casual/Kinect instead of successfully building more franchises/series.

Microsoft has a few huge franchises, Halo and Gears of War being probably the biggest, but from there it tends to drop off.  Forza, Alan Wake, Crackdown and some Rare franchises are about the only others I would think Microsoft might brag about. First off, Halo is just a franchise I have never been able to enjoy, I never liked the characters, weapons, lore, etc, it just has never been fun in my opinion.  Gears of War, I loved this series when it first came out, I bought the original when I got my 360.  Gears of War was a must-have, however we’re about to get our 4th Gears of War on 360 and I already feel I’ve had enough Gears of War until well into the next-next generation.  Forza is a great racing sim from what I understand, but it doesn’t interest me, racing sims don’t.  I’ve never even been curious to play Forza or Gran Turismo, and I probably never will, I’m more into arcade racers if any racer (outside kart racing) at all. Alan Wake was a game that I thought was good, but not great, and I’m not even sure how exclusive that game really is.  Crackdown was fun, but is nothing ground breaking, and I doubt many are really demanding a 3rd one.  Last but not least, is Rare, and I’m not saying anything new here, but they are not the same Rare we have fond memories of from the SNES/N64 era, this is pretty much Rare in name only.  I haven’t been remotely interested in anything by Rare in a very long time, and I doubt I ever will care again.  Feel free to look at the list of franchises Microsoft Studio’s owns and tell me what I’m really missing out on here.

From looking at my own personal collection of 360 games, out of 86 games, I see 12 exclusives.  Some of them (Battlefield 2: Modern Combat & Gun) were able to get exclusive status because they were outdated by the time PS3 came out and were spruced up XBox/PS2 port in the first place.  A couple other titles on there (Big Bumpin & Sneak King) are just junk titles that were sold for under $5 as a promotion from Burger King, already spent too much time talking about them.  Beautiful Katamari is a weird exclusive too, because Playstation 3 got it’s own exclusive Katamari game too (Katamari Forever) so this isn’t really that exclusive.  Left 4 Dead is by far the best 3rd Party XBox Exclusive I have, and if a L4D3 came out, I’d be pretty interested in it.  As I mentioned in the paragraph above how I feel about Crackdown & Gears of War, and Perfect Dark Zero is a game I’d rather pretend didn’t even exist.

On the Playstation 3 side of my collection I only have 13 games, and 12 of them are exclusives, that lopsided ratio has to show something.  Sony has built a pretty sizable list of exclusive franchises, so many that you almost have to look at them when buying a Sony system just like when you buy a Nintendo system.  Uncharted is probably my favorite franchise to come out of this current generation, and I know I’ll be dying to get my hands on a next-gen Uncharted 4 (I still need to finish Uncharted 3).  A lot of these other Sony franchises I need to catch up on, but how could you not be interested in the rest of them.  God of War, The Last of Us, Shadow of The Colossus, Twisted Metal, SOCOM, Infamous, Ape Escape, Sly Cooper, Parappa The Rapper, Jak & Daxter, Ratchet & Clank, Killzone Little Big Planet, Mod Nation Racers and even more.  Sony has so much depth in their line-up of exclusives that they’re able to cater those that want “hardcore” action games, first person shooters, platformers and beyond.  Also due to the depth of Sony’s franchises, they aren’t forced to milk the same series/sequel every year, and at the same time they can suddenly revive an older franchise, like Jet Moto or Syphon Filter.

In my opinion, there is no comparison in the line-ups of franchises between Microsoft and Sony, and when it comes to buying a system, games will always be the number one decision maker for me.  Another advantage Sony will have over Microsoft for me personally is Sony’s strength with Japanese developers.  This of course is due to the XBox’s poor sales in Japan and Sony being a Japanese company itself, but it means the quirky-niche-Japanese titles are more likely to hit the PS4 before the next XBox.

2/27/13 Follow-Up: Infamous: Second Son, Killzone: Shadow Fall & Knack have been announced by Sony for the PS4. Knack is a new platforming franchise while Infamous & Killzone are a familiar series.  Most likely Sony will continue the majority of franchises listed above, while still creating new ones.  This continues to favor my opinion from earlier.

Ease of Development:  This is pretty important, and I honestly don’t feel comfortable saying this is an advantage to Sony as it is pure rumor at this point.  But current rumors are that developers are claiming that the PS4 is easier to develop for than the next XBox, and this was the complete opposite between the 360 and PS3.  So many multi-platform games performed better on the 360 due to the 360 being much easier to develop for than the PS3 (for multiple reasons), also developers tended to focus on the more popular platform (360) first, and then cater to the other systems and ports.  If game development on the Playstation 4 is just as easy, or easier than Microsoft’s system, then Sony will have really evened the playing field this generation for multi-platform games.

2/27/13 Follow-Up:  A few articles (Joystiq, Kotaku) have gone up stating that Sony used feedback from different developers on how to design their system architecture and what kind of features/specs they would like to see. This gives me the impression the system will be very developer-friendly and should not run into the same hurdles the Playstation 3 did.  Sounds like Sony is trying to give the developers what they want, instead of attempting to design it themselves and dump it on the developers…smart move.

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Online: I can’t believe I’m picking Playstation Network over XBox Live, it sounds ridiculous doesn’t it?  Let me explain. I currently use the online features for the following: Downloading games from the store, watching TV apps like ESPN/Netflix/HBO Go, and playing online games.  Whenever you want to download games from the store they do not require a PSN+ or XBox Live account, however you do get some pretty good discounts by having either membership, but paying for a subscription to XBox Live will probably be more than the savings.  Playstation Network Plus allows users to download free games, real retail games like Batman Arkham City, and the user has access to them and can play these full games as long as they have a PSN+ subscription.  That seems to justify the PSN+ purchase when it comes to dealing with buying games from the online store.

Most of the apps on the XBox 360 require a XBox Live Gold account, so when I want to watch ESPN/Netflix/HBO etc I will need to purchase a XBox Live Gold subscription.  Playstation Network doesn’t currently have ESPN or HBO Go, but Netflix is available and it does not require a PSN+ account.  It’s only a matter of time before all the apps will be available on all 3 consoles, and as of now Microsoft will be the only company charging you to use them (in addition to an app like Netflix’s own subscription).  This is also an area that I expect to fade out somewhat next-gen too.  My main TV is a Smart TV and already includes Netflix/HBO Go/Hulu/MLB Pass/ESPN etc, so I no longer need my consoles as an all-in-one box, I just need it to play games.

Online gaming is going to be Microsoft’s strong point, especially since XBox Live already boasts so many users with Gamer Tags they don’t want to give up, achievements they want to still show off and don’t see a reason to change online service.  One of the main reasons I bought XBox 360 over PS3 was the fact my friends all had XBox 360’s, so I knew we could play online together.  The crazy thing is, I almost never played online games with any of my friends, and I really don’t enjoy playing with strangers.  Getting together a group of friends to consistently play Gears of War 3, Borderlands 2 or other co-op games was almost near impossible.  Especially outside of the first few weeks of release, and everyone wants to play at their own pace.  Crackdown, Left 4 Dead and the original Gears of War are the only co-op games I can remember completing online with a friend.   For the most part, when it came to co-op gaming it didn’t even matter if my friends had it on the same system or not since I primarily played the single player with co-op AI.

Outside of Battlefield 3, I remember having the same difficulties getting friends together online to play multiplayer games too.  The fact that I’m not a Call of Duty fan, and I hardly ever get too deep into a games multiplayer doesn’t make it any easier on me either. Max Payne 3, Gears of War 3, Battlefield 3, Crysis 2, Madden and a few other games I own, multiple friends also own.  I just rarely was able to find friends to play with, that were able to get online at the same time, and interested in playing in the same mode, and even then it was just for a quick couple rounds.  Plenty of times I’ll sign-on and see friends playing the same game online, and I don’t even bother to see if they want to play together.  I tend to either stick to the single player, or assume my friends are already involved and maybe play with strangers until I level up or get a new unlock.  I can’t remember ever playing online multiplayer for hours with a group of friends besides Battlefield 3 when it first came out.  What I guess this says about me is that I’m not much of a online multiplayer gamer, I usually jump around from game to game too much to sink enough time into a game’s multiplayer.

Since the online multiplayer and co-op are both parts of the game I don’t even take full advantage of, should I really spend extra money to access it?  In my scenario, I’m probably better off using Playstation Network and playing free online against strangers (or friends if they get PS4’s) in the future Crysis, Battlefield, or Maddens.  Why pay for the XBox Live Gold subscription, when you get these features I rarely use for free on Playstation?

2/27/13 Follow-Up:  Some big moves are coming to the Playstation Network with streaming games, digital downloads, a social community and other features.  None of them really impress me, but they don’t disappoint me either. I don’t see the purpose in signing into your Playstation 4 and watching someone else play, but I think it’s the way I am.  Maybe I’m self-centered, but if I’m on the Playstation 4, I want to play it myself.  But yeah, I can see myself streaming my gaming to those that enjoy watching, but it’s not really beneficial to the player is it?  Since I would be the player, I’m not too interested/excited about the feature.  The download shop seems like it will be expanded, and now all retail games will also be available digitally, like on Wii U.  I’m a collector, and I like the physical copies, so as long as they exist, I will get them over digital, again this isn’t a big deal.   The social community could be cool, but I only want to interact/game with a select few, I never use Miiverse (there hasn’t been a real good reason yet) and I rarely wear a headset on XBox Live, I doubt I’ll get deep into whatever PS4 has.    Hopefully these new features don’t eliminate a free PSN.

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PSVita: To this point, for the most part the PSVita has been a failure to most.  At least that is the way it is portrayed, to be honest I haven’t followed the handheld very closely, I just know some of the difficulties Sony has had with it so far.  I’m not really dying to get a PS Vita even though I have a feeling I will purchase one by the end of the year.  I just like what I’m seeing out of Sony with the Cross-Play between Playstation 3 right now, and I’m sure this will continue into the Playstation 4.  When buying certain Playstation 3 games you receive the Playstation Vita version for free, and it’s the same game/save allowing you to continue your progress on the go.  Ideally, this is what the Wii U would’ve been like, but Sony already has it in place (which is significantly more expensive just with PS3 + Vita).  But to a Sony console owner (PS3 or PS4), the Vita has more purpose and is feasible.  The Vita can potentially open up many more possibilities for the Playstation 4 than the Wii U, and with better hardware (actual “next-gen”).  While Microsoft’s best option here might be the connectivity of a regular tablet (surface) to the Next XBox.

2/27/13 Follow-Up:  I didn’t really look much into what Sony officially announced about the PSVita/PS4 connectivity, but it was about what I expected.  The remote play on the PSVita seems pretty cool but it brings up a lot of questions that I don’t think have been answered.   Does this work only within a limited distance of the PS4, similar to the Wii U and the Gamepad? The PSVita has 2 less shoulder buttons than the DualShock4, what is going to happen to those controls when playing on PSVita?  I’m not really getting into this until all the information is available on it.  As of now, I’m having the expectations of it just being a “next-gen” version of the Wii U, similar to the way the “Move” was a next-gen version of the Wii.  This requires spending at least an additional $250 when purchasing a Playstation4, so I’m perfectly fine waiting for all the facts to get straightened out on what is basically a “bonus” to those that own both systems.

Other Factors:  The problem with such an early pick of Sony over Microsoft is that all the information and facts aren’t even out on the future consoles.  Sony is unveiling/announcing the Playstation 4 next week, and I’m sure Microsoft won’t wait too long after that to announce their new console, I will follow-up this piece when more concrete information is available.   There are big deciding factors that could change my preference of which system to buy first, but as of now it’s looking like a Playstation 4 Christmas this year.

The rumored/leaked specs of both future consoles seem to be very similar, so I’d imagine that price will be in the same range.  If Sony is over $500 and Microsoft is about $400, then I might end up going with the new XBox, anything over $500 is too much.  When I purchase a new system I like to get a couple of games and an extra controller which end up tacking on a couple hundred more, so $500 really is the limit.  If it turns out that the next XBox is actually easier to develop for than the Playstation 4, that could also push me back towards XBox since that means multiplatform games will be better on XBox.  If Sony comes out with some sort of odd, crazy control scheme that just doesn’t seem right/natural, that might also make me lose interest in a Sony system.  I’m pretty sure both systems will launch in the same time-frame, have mostly the same 3rd party launch games, and require constant internet connection/lock out used games, it is all the factors above that will boil down to which suites me better.

Posted on February 14, 2013, in Featured Opinion and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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