The PlayStation 4 made a dramatic entrance Monday at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) — and Sony had way more tricks up its sleeve than anyone could have anticipated. With Nintendo rendered mostly irrelevant, it's a two-party fight between gaming consoles these days.
So how does Sony's successor to the PlayStation 3 stack up against Microsoft's Xbox One? Here are the raw specs, with some further thoughts below.
PlayStation 4: The New Gamer's Console
When it comes to the next generation of gaming hardware, Sony didn't show its cards quite as quick as its rival, instead calculating a pitch-perfect rebuttal to Microsoft at E3. Playing to each and every one of the Xbox One's high-profile weaknesses, the PS4 is exactly everything that the other console isn't.
If you're a gamer at heart, the new PS4 has your needs in mind. In a departure from a controversial new precedent set by Microsoft, Sony will not enforce DRM on the PS4. That means not only does the PS4 support extended offline use (the Xbox One needs to phone home once every 24 hours), but used and shared games get the greenlight too, just like they always have.
The PS4 will offer specs very much on par with its rival and may even have a slight edge when it comes to graphics, but that will become clearer at launch. Still, gamers interested in motion-based controls will have to purchase Sony's own Kinect-like PlayStation Eye separately for $59. Notably, Sony's PS4 will be priced at $399 — a full $100 less than the Xbox One.
Xbox One: A Casual Crowd-Pleaser… For A Price
If Sony has built an excellent gaming console, Microsoft is effectively positioning itself to sell an all-in-one entertainment central command system. With the launch of the Kinect back in 2010, Microsoft made a savvy move to capture the hearts and homes of not just gamers, but the whole family. Motion-controlled Kinect games were fun and interactive, not the stuff of the hardcore gaming set. With its family-friendly (and eminently hackable) new accessory, the Xbox 360 suddenly took a big bite out of Nintendo's piece of the pie.
Now, Microsoft will bundle each Xbox One with a Kinect — a telling sign that Redmond is intent on wooing the mainstream. The Xbox One puts a big emphasis on non-gaming entertainment, with baked-in support for live TV, big broadcast events and sports. All of this comes at a cost, of course, and the new console will sell for $499 — a considerable jump from the last generation.
The Xbox One will require a periodic connection to the Internet so that Microsoft can be sure that you own all of the content you're playing. Beyond DRM issues, the Xbox One won't offer backwards compatibility, meaning that gamers' existing Xbox game collections will be relegated to the shelf.
An Epic Showdown
With the Xbox One, Microsoft may have thrown out the baby with the bathwater. While its robust set of exclusive titles (Halo, Gears of War, Fable, etc.) will still be a lure for its core gamer demographic, Sony's PlayStation hits all of the gamer-friendly notes than Microsoft seems to have stopped caring about.
Still, with its mainstream entertainment features, Microsoft may not need gamers to sell its console any more. Meanwhile Sony has fashioned itself into a pied piper of sorts — and the lure of its affordable, DRM-free PlayStation 4 may prove irresistable for serious gamers.
Lead image via Flickr user CesarCardoso, CC 2.0. Console images via Sony and Microsoft