Back in 2013, Sony and Microsoft unveiled their latest consoles: the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One. Although I have a PlayStation 3 and a decent catalogue of games, my main console last-gen was the Xbox 360, and at the start of 2013 I was extremely excited to see the future of the Xbox brand.
However, after the Xbox One reveal prior to E3, an air of uncertainty began to surround the future of next-gen consoles, though the chatter was more prevalent when discussing Xbox. After E3 came and went, it became clear that only one of the two consoles was making controversial changes. Because of this, the PlayStation 4 shot to the top of many gamers’ lists as the first (and possibly only) console to purchase for the coming generation.
Although it hurt to leave some of the Xbox franchises behind, such as Halo and Gears of War, I was one of the dissenters that went with a PlayStation 4 as their first (and, in my case, only) console.
Microsoft became an autocratic overseer that told us how we were supposed to enjoy our technology. “Who has time for games when you can have TV and sports on the same all-in-one home entertainment machine? Voice controls are the future of dashboard navigation, so get ready for mandatory Kinect, Kinect, Kinect. Want to play a used game? You owe us an activation fee. Internet connection and daily authentication are required, even when playing single-player games. We know you want Halo so badly that you’ll put up with all of this. $599.99, please.”
Microsoft’s 2013 E3 press conference didn’t seem like a disaster at first. Immediately after watching it I was in that weird place where I was trying to convince myself that what they were selling was a good way to go. The promise of Halo, plus some cool looking games like Sunset Overdrive and Quantum Break, kept my hype train going. Plus I assumed that Sony was going to implement a lot of the same restrictions and make similar changes, that an all-digital, always-connected future awaited the video game industry. But Sony didn’t roll that way, and their E3 press conference will go down as one of the most memorable and key moments in video gaming history. Not only did they show off some flashy titles to generate buzz (specifically Final Fantasy 15 and Kingdom Hearts 3, but also The Order: 1886 which later turned out to be a stinker), but they actively went after Microsoft’s vision and said “We aren’t changing. Used games supported with zero fees. No internet connection or authentication required at all.” And to put the cherry on top, they came in at $100 cheaper.
I pre-ordered a PlayStation 4 on Amazon the next day, and I encouraged many of my Xbox friends to do the same. While I was able to convince some, there were still many that mocked my desertion and heralded the Xbox One as a new and glorious era in gaming.
In the three years since, things haven’t exactly turned out so well for Xbox One owners, especially early adopters. Promises Microsoft made were reneged, senior staff were rotated out, the “mandatory” Kinect was removed, prices were dropped. Sony drove full speed into the next generation with relatively few hiccups, while Microsoft has since struggled to get their player base close to the competition. Sony’s first party exclusives up until this point have generally out-shadowed Microsoft’s offerings. Third-party games for the most part have had better resolution and frame rates on PlayStation 4 when compared to their Xbox One counterparts.
Everything that has transpired since the launch of these two consoles has assured me that I made the right choice to leave the Xbox behind. I have way too many responsibilities these days to be a multi-console household. However, I have always lamented that I couldn’t play new entries for some of my favorite franchises, even the ones that have turned out to just be mediocre on the Xbox One (looking at you, Halo 5).
Fortunately for PlayStation owners who made a similar decision to abandon Xbox, Microsoft has a new strategy: release everything on PC. Quantum Break was the first major Xbox exclusive title to make the jump to PC, and now there are reports that both the Halo franchise and Rare’s new game Sea of Thieves will also be made available to PC gamers. Rumors of Gears of War, Scalebound and Forza have also been making rounds, so hopefully we’ll hear more about that at E3 in June.
While I’m not on the edge of my seat waiting to play Xbox games on PC, the fact that they are becoming available closes the book on Microsoft for me. If I could travel back in time three years to give myself a message regarding my PlayStation 4 purchase, it would be simply this: “You have chosen… wisely.”
That said, we are on the cusp of a new tactic in the console-gaming industry: mid-generation upgrades. Both Sony and Microsoft are rumored to announce upgraded versions of their consoles at E3, with Microsoft’s console allegedly being much more powerful than Sony’s. I do not like the idea of purchasing a new console so soon, but I am open to the idea.
Round 2 between Sony and Microsoft begins at E3 in just two short weeks.