PS4-Hardware-InsertAs we approach the final weeks before the launch of Sony’s PS4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One gaming consoles, many gamers will use this new generation to consider a switch from their current offerings. The road leading up to the console launch started years ago, and since then the internet has been flooded with new information on specs, builds, false-reports, and changed policies on both sides.
It would be easiest if there was one clear-cut winner, a device that outstripped the other in every category, but luckily Sony and Microsoft continue to challenge each other every year. I say luckily because competition is terrific for the consumer, it fuels innovations, keeps prices low, and has publishers racing to find the next indie-developer before they are snatched up by the competition.
November has always been a battleground-month in the videogame industry, and this year’s holiday rush is more important to Microsoft and Sony than any of the last 5 years combined. Analysts favor each console, depending on who you are reading at the time, and each hardware specification and minute detail has been compared, marketed, and flaunted, ever since the moment that each of the consoles were announced.
A look inside the two consoles offers up more similarities than differences. Though each of the consoles stand apart, looking at the actual architecture on which they are designed, they are both running on a CPU and an eight-core graphics processor that were both made by AMD. There are differences to be seen however, and they could stand to make quite a difference in performance if they are utilized properly by developers.
The PS4 can pump-out 1.84 trillion operations p/sec, while the Xbox One clocks in at 1.30 teraflops. A difference of .54 is substantial, but will only make a subsequent difference if it’s utilized correctly by the game’s development team. Developing games is a long and tedious affair, and porting one game to the next platform is costly, and can invoke a series of bugs and mishaps in the process. It is because of this that developers usually develop a baseline, in this case, that baseline would be to use a sizable portion of Xbox One’s hardware. The only time that you will see a developer really aim to code for the PS4 baseline, with significant changes, would be if the game is a PS4 exclusive, or maybe it was made for the PS4 first then ported to Xbox One. Again this is costly, and to develop the same game, made to run equally on both consoles regardless of hardware changes, is the most efficient manner of development.
So what does that leave us with at the consumer level? Microsoft and Sony are faced with the same battle that Apple and Google have been fighting for years. The need to solidify a market-share, and make it too costly for a customer to change platforms. If you have an iPhone for a year, or a Google Nexus for a year, odds are you will have spent money on each of the App Stores. Leaving the brand at that point, means deserting your purchases, and that is something that no one wants to do.
Multiplayer gaming is even more important to gamers on consoles, when compared to phones. Friends like to play online with friends, and if you have a PS4 and your friends have an Xbox One, then you are isolated and alone. Since online gaming is kept so divided by your console choice, a choice that you are forced to make, then that really becomes the deciding factor when hardware doesn’t make the choice for you. Gamers that enjoy single-player games (or don’t have friends that play online) don’t experience this issue, but they are becoming more and more rare.
One of the largest advantages to playing multiplayer games on PS3, as opposed to playing to Xbox 360, was the fact that it was free. Microsoft requires a Xbox Live subscription to play games online on the Xbox 360, and will continue to do so on the Xbox One. The PS4 however will also require a PSN+ subscription to play online (except for free to play titles). This puts both services on par with one another, except that PS4 users won’t need a PSN+ subscription to use Netflix, Hulu and other video or online services.
The platform that stands to gain the most ground in this battle are PCs. Microsoft and Apple are slowly starting to share a lot of titles, though Apple still has a lot of ground to cover before they are equal by any means. Where they differ is the exclusivity, and that is allowing more games and platform choices to become available to the consumer. Games like Guild Wars 2, made for each console and sharing servers for both platforms to play with another, is just one example of how PC gaming is still more advanced than console gaming. Sony and Microsoft publish games however, and this allows indie-gamers a chance they would normally never have, to make games. The developers at thatgamecompany turned a three-game deal with Sony into a launching pad to becoming a privately published game development company themselves. That is something that would probably never have happened if it wasn’t for Sony securing the games, and offering the funding and support to publish them.
A new generation of consoles is the perfect time to switch sides, if you were planning on doing so. We are quickly approaching the one-month mark for the console’s release, and although finding one will soon become impossible. You can still pre-order or become alerted of availability on consoles from services like Amazon, and be added to the list to get one as quickly as they come in.
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