PlayStation Vs. XBOX: How The Tables Turned
If you'll indulge me for a few moments, I'd like to start off by explaining my history with both PlayStation and Xbox. You see, I was born in Ireland in 1992, and growing up my brother and I had a variety of consoles - including the Sega Mega Drive, Sega Genesis, SNES, N64, and the PS1. Some of my earliest gaming memories are of playing Beavis and Butthead on the SNES.
Back then I didn't care what console I played on, I just played games. That being said, I do recall my brother playing Syphon Filter and Duke Nukem on the PS1 and not liking them. They were too mature for me at the time, so I stuck with Banjo Kazooie. Eventually I began playing the PS1 more and more because my brother preferred it. Fast forward to 2001-ish, and my brother gets a PS2.
Before The Stick of Truth, Beavis and Butthead made farts cool
Once again the games were just too mature for me, he was playing GTA III and Metal Gear Solid 2, and I was dumbfounded. So I rebelled and got a GameCube. I mostly opted for the GameCube because it had Mario Kart and Super Mario Sunshine. To be completely honest, I stand by my decision, because the GameCube was an amazing system with great games.
However, I always found myself returning to the PS2. It was there I eventually began playing Grand Theft Auto, Jak & Daxter, Dragon Ball Z, Tony Hawk, Medal of Honor, Crash Bandicoot and Metal Gear. So by the end of the generation I was totally a PlayStation guy. However, I made the same mistake again when the PS3 and Xbox 360 came out. I got a 360.
Once again I turned my back on PlayStation and opted for the competitor. I chose Xbox because it came out a year earlier and it had 2 games that fascinated me, Dead Rising and Gears of War. So I got my first iteration 360 and played the heck out of the aforementioned games, as well as Saints Row. Then, somewhere around 2007, disaster struck....the red ring of death. So long story short, Microsoft fixed it twice, it broke a third time and they refused to fix it, saying it was my fault. It was at this time when my brother decided to get a PS3. Hallelujah.
Three frickin' times
So we got a PS3 and I played everything on it. I mostly stuck to third party games for a while, but at that time I had no idea what a first or third party was. Anyway, after a couple of years I got my own PS3 and with it I began playing more first party stuff. This was also around the time I started following the games industry and listening to shows like Podcast Beyond.
So my knowledge of gaming improved vastly and I suddenly realized how amazing the PS3 library was. I mean, if you didn't like shooters then you were out of luck on 360, whereas the PS3 had Uncharted, Infamous, God of War, Heavy Rain, Ratchet and Clank, Resistance, MGS 4, Killzone, and Little Big Planet, to name but a few diverse titles. I well and truly fell in love with the PS3.
Nothing the Xbox 360 offered was interesting to me. I could not understand my friend who had a 360. I couldn't wrap my head around why you would have a 360 when PS3 has so many games to offer. I quickly became part of Team PlayStation and would proudly state that the games were more important than sales figures. And that's still true.
Then the PS3 and 360 wound down and the new consoles emerged. I won't belabor the history of those 2 consoles - we're early enough in the gen that everyone remembers. But I will say I learned my lesson and stuck with PlayStation. Now you might think this article is leading to my revelation that Xbox One is now the better system but it's not, I am more than happy with my PS4 and don't regret it at all.
The best place to play
However, somewhere along the way, the PS4 has become more like the Xbox 360, and the Xbox One more like the PS3.
This theory was proven 100% correct to me when PlayStation showed off Call of Duty on its E3 stage this year. No offence to the COD series or fans, but that series epitomized the divide between PS3 and 360 - the PS3 had the amazing titles that flew under the radar, the 360 had little to no exclusives and focused on third party support. This has become the marketing strategy of the PS4 and it's a little worrying.
Both systems have had some amazing exclusives, but neither have had killer apps just yet. That being said, I do think the PS4 library is better than the PS3 library at the 2.5 year mark. So while the PS4's marketing is reminiscent of the Xbox 360's, it's good to see that Sony is still producing exciting new IP like Bloodborne, The Order 1886 and Horizon Zero Dawn. But it's also great to see that Microsoft learned its lesson and has concocted a new exclusive-heavy mindset for the Xbox One, with games you would never have seen on 360 - Sunset Overdrive, Sea of Thieves and Recore.
So both consoles are fighting for supremacy and we the gamers are benefitting the most.
That being said, it's undeniable that the PS4 has a fairly sparse line-up this fall, when compared to Xbox One. Now, I personally don't think this is a big deal when we have massive third party games coming out from September 1st right through to late November. Sony President Shuhei Yoshida said himself that Sony was in no rush to put out an exclusive this fall and let it die amongst the third party behemoths.
Indeed it seems fairly illogical of Microsoft to release Rise of the Tomb Raider on the same day as Fallout 4. Also, PlayStation rather ingeniously aligns itself with games like Arkham Knight, Destiny, Call of Duty and Star Wars: Battlefront, getting exclusive content and therefore advertising the game as "Only on PlayStation". So the lack of first party games this fall does not matter. And yet it matters to shareholders.
Right now perception is that Xbox One has more exclusives. The facts are thus: the PS4 has 49 console exclusive games, the Xbox One has 34 exclusives. 8 of those are AAA....on both consoles. So the truth is both consoles have had 8 AAA exclusive games, while PS4 has 15 more digital exclusives. Now this isn't a d$*k measuring contest, so it really doesn't matter, nor am I attempting to justify the PS4's exclusives, which I don't think need justifying. My point is that the perception of both consoles has changed and reversed since the PS3/360 days.
Perception Isn't Always Reality
As mentioned before, PS3 fans boasted about the amazing games that were on the console, whereas 360 fans made jokes about the system's sales and poor running of Bethesda games. By the end of the generation, PS3 fans had the last laugh; the system had a vastly better library of games and even sold more! Then the PS4 and Xbox One were revealed and Microsoft did exactly what Sony did with the PS3 launch. It assumed that it had the core gamers in its pocket and attempted to expand, which just pisses off the core. PS4, however, emerged the clear leader in mindshare and pre-orders.
That initial mis-step by Microsoft has proved a hard one to recover from, with the PS4 outselling it by a 2-1 margin. The public mindshare has been completely PS4 since launch, and that's a hard thing to change. So PlayStation is coasting right now, with double the sales, and it's doing so without any upcoming games. Sony is aligning itself with huge 3rd party games and relying on that to sell the system. Xbox One, however, is trailing far behind, but with a lot of great games on the immediate horizon. The tables have well and truly turned. The good news for PlayStation fans is that the PS4 is not as barren with exclusives as the 360 was.
So truth be told, this generation has just pushed Microsoft to become a lot more experimental and frequent with exclusives.
Competition is best for everyone, most of all, us, the gamers! Rejoice and let the companies continue to wage war for our hard earned money!