Monday, July 01, 2013

The dust has settled, please let's not get religious

About a month ago, Microsoft unveiled their new console, the Xbox One which is due to be released in November. Yes, I'm already saving up some money to get me One. This was months after Sony had unveiled its PS4, although they never really unveiled their new console until this month's E3. For me the Nintendo has never been an option as they're always too much focused on, well games for kids. And yes, I know, I'm the conscious parent and think the Xbox 360 is superior over the PS3 because of Microsoft's view on how to safeguard the kids from playing those games that I as a parent deem not suitable for my kids. It's kind of counter intuitive that I don't have a Wii in my home. I was actually planning to buy one, but Nintendo only had the white console at the time and my wife just agreed to get brand new AV components in our house, lest they were black. Sorry Nintendo. And when they released the black Wii and after I had come up with a good excuse to get one, Microsoft announced the Kinect, and out the door went my excuse to get the Wii. I'm still considering myself luck for that. The Kinect beats the Wii.
I do have a PS3, but only because the 360 doesn't have a Blu-Ray player.

So, back to the new line up. PS4 versus the Xbox One (X1 for short in this post).

It's interesting to see that the X1 will have a Blu-Ray drive, ditching the DVD drive and the necessity of putting games on multiple discs. Something Sony had already done with the P3. Does this mean that Microsoft is going to cannibalize it's own Xbox Video service by allowing consumers to buy movies on BD and play them on the X1? Probably, but this is, I think, a strategic move to get the X1 to be the entertainment hub in our living room. It'll most certainly push the PS3 I own out of the livingroom, probably move it to our entertainment room, it's on the top floor of our home with a beamer (1080i, 720p) and a pretty decent 7.1 sound system hooked up to it. I got the PS3 back in the day solely for the BluRay drive in it. The kids play every now and again Little Big Planet on it. But hardly to be honest.
From what I've seen so far, Sony is still banking on the game playing crowd. Although music and movie streaming is still there and seams to be more prominently than on the PS3, they seem to be focusing on the games. To be honest, I think the PS4 looks better than the X1, from the outside. From the inside I don't care too much. For me it's all about the games, up to a point of course. The Wii has never been up to par with the rest of the previous next-gen consoles. The thing is that with great power comes great, well opportunities. And where I have seen the 360 and the PS3 shine is not only in enhanced graphics, but more importantly in great AI.This seems to be the area where the new next gen consoles will venture. They'll have to. And from that perspective the X1's cloud capabilities seem to be the ones that will make a difference.

Back to the new consoles. Just a little side step. Since I have no clue as to create an inset, here's the text I wanted to put there. The X1 is about €100 more expensive at release time over the PS4. But it does mean that you'll have the Kinect with it and online multi-player. Both you'll have to buy with the PS4 in addition to the console. So I guess from a price perspective, it's not that different. Although I wouldn't mind getting the X1 without the Kinect. I have 4 360's in my home and one with an RRoD, but that doesn't count. The 360's are for playing games (living room and my entertainment room) and one for the bedroom where it is used as a Media Center Extender. Like I stated earlier, my entertainment eco system is based around Microsoft products.
In case you were counting, yes, I have one spare Xbox. It's just there being a spare 360. I bought it because I was living elsewhere and wanted a 360 there as well. With a Kinect, so now I have two Kinects as well. One is spare and I don't use it. And this is exactly my point, I don't need a Kinect with every Xbox I have. More over because it's not really usable beyond games in the Netherlands. Yup Halo Waypoint supports the voice commands, but it only understands the English voice commands, so it's virtually unusable by my two kids (age 6 and 8) as their English is not good enough to control the 360 by voice.
So dropping the X1's price by €100 and not getting the Kinect would be a perfect option.

Based on what I've seen so far from both the PS4 and the X1, I think the X1 is more for me. I really like the additional capabilities of the X1 in terms of being my living room media hub. But I'm fully aware that these are most likely never going to find their way to the Netherlands. If Microsoft would strike a deal with Ziggo and UPC, Holland's two main cable companies, this would be a really cool step forward in their service. Having an X1 instead of the UPC Horizon set-top box would be a game changer. But I am fully aware that Holland is a very small market compared to Germany, UK, France when talking about Europe. Still I hope Microsoft is reading this blog and taking it to heart.
Then there's Sony with the new PS4 and what it can do. When it boils down to games, they've already shown some pretty sweet stuff. Killzone looks darn dandy on the new console and games like Destiny are not exclusive titles either. My question would be what games will be available when I want to buy the new console... and what about my friends, will they stay with their 360 and move to the X1, or move from PS3 to X1 or from 360 to PS4?

And one really, really important aspect is about how I can control my kids concerning their gaming habits. I'm very impressed by Microsoft in this regard and would like to see more. I devoted my previous blog post to this aspect. Sony is still not handling this very well. On the PS3 there's nothing existing like that, or at least nothing comparable to what Microsoft is offering.

This is the end of this post, but definitely not the end of this topic, not for me.

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