As the current console generation reaches a point of maturation, both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One have developed significantly. There is no doubt that the Sony system gained a significant head start over the Xbox One in the early days of the two consoles. But with both units having been available for a couple of years, which one provides the most compelling system for gamers?
PlayStation 4 vs. Xbox One
There is no doubt which of the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4 has been more successful commercially. Sony recently smashed through the 30 million sales barrier, and this is estimated to be roughly double that of the sales of the Xbox One. This certainly reflects which one of the two systems has been more popular with consumers, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that the PlayStation 4 is superior in gaming terms. No doubt Microsoft made massive PR blunders from which it has yet to recover, but it has delivered an excellent gaming system in other regards.
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Undoubtedly, Microsoft offers at the superior package in terms of backward compatibility, with this having been achieved relatively effortlessly. Sony has been working on fully implementing backwards compatibility for the PlayStation 4, but it is still somewhat behind its rival in this department. Fortunately, it seems that this will not be a major issue with the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Two, as the inclusion of AMD chips in both devices should ensure backwards compatibility from day one.
Sony has led the way with video games streaming in this console generation, with the PlayStation Now service gaining an advantage over the Xbox One. Sony has also attempted to utilize backward compatibility via this service, and this actually works pretty niftily, even though there are complaints about gaining access to disc-based games.
The PlayStation 4 has outperformed the Xbox One in graphics terms, and this has been another area in which the Microsoft console has generated negative publicity. The PlayStation 4 graphics chips is significantly superior to the Xbox One, and this resulted in some embarrassing headlines for Microsoft early in the console generation. With the Xbox One unable to deliver 1080p gaming in some of its early titles, the PlayStation 4 had superior titles for some games, and this undoubtedly generated controversy and more bad news for Microsoft.
This must surely be one area that Microsoft addresses diligently with its next-generation console, as the company’s decision to attempt to sell a less powerful machine at a higher price point was a massive PR own goal.
Providing Xbox One access to Windows streaming has been a welcome addition to the armory of the Xbox series, and it is a feature that has been widely enjoyed by gamers. The ability to stream Xbox One games to a Windows PC over a local network is an excellent feature, and one that has saved a lot of arguments in living rooms. Sony cannot really match this functionality with the PlayStation 4, although it has provided a similar feature with the PS Vita.
There is always a personal preference regarding which particular controller is superior, so it is difficult to come to a definitive conclusion on this matter. But the release of the Xbox Elite controller, which packs a number of excellent improvements into an albeit pricey package, has won a lots of plaudits from Xbox gamers. Microsoft has also included the headphone jack in the controller now, closing the gap on a feature which PlayStation 4 owners have been experiencing for a couple of years.
In addition, the Xbox One enables controller buttons to be remapped at the system level, a nice edition which makes many games easier to play, and allows for improved customization. Although Sony has added a suspend and resume function that it promised back in 2013, it is fair to say that Microsoft has shown more effort and innovation in this department.
Despite the best efforts of Microsoft, it is hard to deny the argument that Sony has maintained the edge on exclusive titles. Bloodborne was one of the best games of 2015, and a PlayStation 4 exclusive. Additionally, Xbox gamers will never get to play The Last of Us, which is considered to be one of the best titles of all-time, and certainly a masterful example of narrative and storytelling.
Dark Souls was another excellent exclusively for Sony, and although Microsoft made a great deal of fuss out of its deal for Tomb Raider, this will appear on the PlayStation 4 in due course. Although the overwhelming majority of titles ultimately appear on both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, the experience on the PS4 is always equal to that of the Xbox One, and sometimes even superior.
In the pure gaming sense, the PlayStation 4 retains the edge that has probably been the biggest factor in its extraordinary sales success.
One of the most important aspects of the future manoeuvrings of the two console giants will be virtual reality technology. Sony is looking to the impending launch of PlayStation VR (previously Project Morpheus) to gain a serious advantage in the marketplace, but Microsoft has invested significantly in Hololens. It does seem that pure virtual reality will test the capabilities of both systems, so it will be interesting to see how the particularly ambitious PlayStation VR works out.
Both of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One offer credible gaming packages, and there isn’t a vast difference between the two systems. Certainly any gamers purchasing the Xbox One will not be disappointed. However, the PlayStation 4 retains a marginal, but significant, edge over its Microsoft rival. It has better exclusive games, more processing and graphics power, and a superior streaming service. Although Microsoft has attempted to innovate in numerous areas, it still has some catching up to do to close the gap on Sony.