The last thing that I was expecting going into these pre-E3 presentations today was that any one console maker would really come out ahead and blow the competition away. I mean, at their core both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 are very similar consoles. Both the Xbox One and PS4 pack similar specs, will have the same third party support and will offer entertainment options beyond just playing games, as that is what you have to do to be competitive in this market. Then Sony’s conference happened and while it may have dragged a few times and featured a few awkward moments, the last ten minutes was a veritable slam dunk that helped build the Xbox One’s coffin.
Early on into Sony’s PS4 portion of their presentation I made note of their usage of words when discussing the PS4, that they would use the word “gamers” as much as humanly possible in describing the features. it is a word that represents their core audience and a word that many felt was eerily missing from Microsoft’s Xbox One reveal and even their E3 presentation. Even while talking about the multimedia functionality of the PS4, they made sure to talk about how it was targeted towards gamers, as opposed to just talking about nameless, faceless consumers.
Sony was speaking to their core audience and taking digs at the competition without directly mentioning Microsoft or the Xbox One by name. They didn’t have to, though, as everyone knew what they were doing. Even if they weren’t showing anything really groundbreaking when it came to exclusives, nothing that would sell a system, they didn’t need that big killer app to look better than Microsoft.
After they were done presenting games and features for the PS4, the real magical moment happened for Sony. That moment was when they talked about what would differentiate the PS4 from the Xbox One and were directly confronting some of the features that we all have grown to dread about the Xbox One, showing how they were different. There would be no forced internet connection, there would be no DRM checks, you own the disc, you own the game, you don’t need PS+ to access Netflix or play any single player games and there is no limitations placed on used games. Oh, and the coup de grace? Sony announcing that the PS4 would launch for $399 in North America, $100 less than Microsoft’s Xbox One.
These were the moments that had the entire crowd cheering and these were the moments that had the internet buzzing almost immediately. It was very clear that Sony was offering the superior product and that they were offering the product that was pro-consumer, while what Microsoft was offering was clearly pro-business. When a consumer is expected to spend around half-a-grand on a home entertainment console and over $50 for the games, shouldn’t you want to make them happy? All of those same third parties that will have games on the Xbox One will have games on the PS4, so as much as we might hear that the Xbox One’s DRM features were done for the publishers, clearly publishers are comfortable working with Sony without these anti-consumer features.
I’m not comfortable saying that the Xbox One will be a failure by any stretch of the imagination, but what is clear is that educated consumers are probably going to flock to Sony’s PS4 as opposed to the Xbox One based on features and price alone.