Following Microsoft’s Xbox One reveal a few weeks ago, both critical and internet rabble support was clearly behind Sony’s forthcoming Playstation 4. The consensus was that Microsoft failed to address key user concerns about DRM, always-on connectivity, used games policy, etc.– and what they introduced seemed to be more of a set-top entertainment all-in-one box as opposed to the hardcore gaming box people were looking for. And, naturally, many questions were left with a pat “wait until E3” answer.
Well, E3 finally arrived, and Microsoft (first at bat, before Sony), today addressed all of those lingering questions with the kinds of answers that you usually get from people who have not spent enough time with their audience or their market. In short, here’s what Microsoft cleared up:
- For playing games, regardless of the game’s minimum requirements, One will require a once-every-24-hour online check-in, as long as you are playing on your own console (the console the game is tied to). If you are playing on someone else’s console, but accessing your library of games, it will need to check in once every hour. This will require a broadband connection– so, no internet, no game. Sorry, rural America!
- Anyone with physical access to your console will be able to play any of your games. This seems logical– if anyone had access to your game discs, they could play them.
- Anyone in your household (presumably determined by who has an account on your console– up to ten people), can access your library of games. As in, they can play games from your library on a different console. This actually seems to be a strangely generous system, primed for abuse, so there must be some small print we haven’t seen yet.
- Microsoft is leaving it up to developers/publishers to determine used game policy. Microsoft was very clear that they are setting up a system where publishers can determine how this will work, and that Microsoft will not be involved in (or participate financially) in those arrangements. You will not be able to trade games with friends, but you can give games with friends– as best as we can tell, this is a fee-free one-way transfer of ownership. The implication seems to be that this is a one-time deal, so you can give a game away one time, and the recipient can’t then give away the game again (or give it back to you). No lending. Microsoft has said that for the games it publishes, it will enable the ability to give games away.
- Any and all data that could be cloud-stored is determined entirely by the user. That is, you can opt entirely out of storing any of your data in the cloud– this is similar to the current Xbox 360 scheme, where the cloud service is just another storage device that you have the option to save to.
- The Xbox One will launch at a cost of $499. No two-tier pricing.
- Kinect is not always watching.. they tell us.
Sony, having the advantage of going second, created an enormous upset in the minds of all watching by, essentially, doing the opposite of what Microsoft did. We can only imagine what might have gone in behind-the-scenes at Sony’s presentation team after viewing Microsoft’s presentation to make sure to craft a presentation that so punishingly drove a truck through all of the gaping holes Microsoft left.
- Looks may be the only place where the Playstation 4 falls on its face– while the Xbox One looks like a piece of equipment that belongs near a TV and in an entertainment center, Playstation 4 more resembles an unidentified piece of equipment that one might see in a futuristic presentation of The House of Teh Future!
- Unequivocally, the game media-management model is unchanged– that is, nothing is being added/changed/removed to the way users can buy, lend, rent, trade, sell, etc. their game media. KER-POW!
- No online requirement. At all. No check-ins, no always-on, none of them. KA-BLAM!
- Oh, and now if you want to play online multiplayer, you will have to subscribe (as in, pay for) Playstation Plus. This sets PS4 to compete more similarly with Xbox Live.
- The Playstation 4 will launch at a cost of $399. This is only about $100 more than you can currently get a Playstation 3 for.
Rightly or wrongly, this is being touted as a huge knock-out for Sony against Microsoft. And, rightly or wrongly, the rabble are seeing it that way. And, rightly or wrongly, that’s the way people will order or preorder their next gen console.