PS4 vs Xbox One. It’s a battle that’s waged since before these consoles were even announced, and it will likely remain as heated as it has been long into the New Year.
This battle may be ageless, but I wanted to look at 2014 alone to see how Sony, Microsoft and their respective black boxes fared over the last 12 months.
Examining several areas, like exclusive games, entertainment features and the consoles’ biggest failures, I set out to see which console emerged from 2014 victorious and which one was left bloodied and bruised.
Exclusive games and more to come
Exclusive games play a major role in which consoles consumers choose. Whether they herald from major developers or independents, dedicated gamers are more likely to choose a console that offers better titles.
Sony got a head start by smartly letting indie developers release PS4 games from the get-go. Popular independent studios like Supergiant Games and Young Horses immediately hopped on board to release PlayStation 4-exclusive titles.
Microsoft, on the other hand, took longer to open the Xbox One to independent game developers, and it required devs to release games through approved publishers. However, within a few months, Microsoft realized this wasn’t the brightest idea, and opened its platform to small developers to keep up with Sony.
Bolstered by titles from independent houses, both the PS4 and Xbox One lapped up some juicy exclusives this past year. For PS4, these included Infamous: First Light, DriveClub and The Last Of Us: Remastered.
Despite a slow start, Microsoft managed to secure several great games for the Xbox One. Some of 2014’s best Xbox exclusives included Sunset Overdrive, Forza Horizon 2 and Halo: The Master Chief Collection.
Both companies have announced exciting exclusives for 2015. Those purchasing consoles at the end of 2014 may consider upcoming games when choosing between the Xbox One and PS4. Microsoft has already announced approximate release dates for Halo 5: Guardians, Quantum Break and Ori and the Blind Forest. All of these games are expected to sell well.
Sony, meanwhile, has The Order: 1886, Abzu, Bloodborne and Uncharted 4 lined up for 2015.
Why: It’s a very close call, but considering Microsoft had to catch up on the indie game front while Sony was well-ahead in embracing game makers of all sizes, we tip the scale towards the PS4. A few days away, 2015 is shaping to be even tougher to call.
Sony and Microsoft both raked in plenty of cash this past year but when it comes console sales, Sony definitely lands on top.
By September, Sony had sold about 13.5 million PS4s, making it the fastest-selling console of all time. Microsoft, meanwhile, has shipped 7.35 million Xbox One consoles to stores. You’ll have to trust that retailers sold through that stock by now.
The initial pricing for the Xbox One of $450 with a Kinect was cause for pause for many early adopters and helped sway sales over to Sony’s camp. Microsoft eventually wised up about half way through the year and dropped the Kinect from the console, making it optional, and setting the standalone Xbox One’s price at $399.
Then, in a successful effort to boost sales during the holiday season, Microsoft issued a $50 price drop. This new price, combined with better exclusives and the option to go Kinect-less, made it the bestselling console for November and gave Xbox its first sales win over PS4.
Despite ending the year on a high note, the Xbox One still has a lot of catching up to do.
Why: The numbers, unlike the cake, don’t lie.
People who value home entertainment often have several devices to meet their needs, often leading to a lot of clutter. Microsoft helped solve this problem by giving the Xbox One an HDMI-in connection.
Having an HDMI connection means gamers can connect practically any device to their Xbox One consoles. They can even run cable TV signals through the Xbox One. Microsoft made this feature even more useful by adding One Guide, an option that lets owners track what’s playing on cable and stream content from apps.
To be fair, both consoles can play Blu-ray discs and stream Netflix content. Either console could reduce the number of wires tangled behind your entertainment center. Xbox One went a little further on this one, though. It deserves credit for that effort.
Winner: Xbox One
Why: This is a feature the Xbox One has had since the beginning in the US, but it remains one of (if not the) biggest wins the console has over its rival. Plus, the Xbox One’s HDMI-in port only reached its full potential in the UK this summer.
Blunders and fails
Let’s start by mentioning how far Microsoft has come over the last year. When the Xbox One first came out, it had several unnecessary features that hindered performance. Snap, for instance, was a marginally interesting idea that some people would have liked … if it had worked. Instead, the clunky feature made it difficult to do anything app-related.
Some industry experts believe the company’s E3 2013 press conference still haunts the Xbox One. You may remember the unpopular announcements made last year, like restrictions on selling used games and the log-on-once-a-day requirement, many of which were retracted shortly after.[embedyt]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HlGWBAnTrgc[/embedyt]
Sony had its share of blunders in 2014. For one, the company has consistently failed to release games on time, an annoyance that can frustrate dedicated gamers anxiously awaiting new titles.
Unfortunately, Sony hasn’t found a way to solve this problem. The highly anticipated DriveClub was supposed to be a PS4 launch game, but was pushed back an entire year and still had so many bugs it was nearly unplayable. Consumers who already purchased the game had to wait for updates to fix the bugs. Is it worse to get a game later than expected, or to get a faulty game on time that takes weeks to fix? Either way, it’s a frustrating experience that marred Sony’s reputation.
Considering Microsoft has worked diligently to correct its early mistakes, the PS4 comes out on top in the blunders and fails category. Let’s hope the company finds a way to solve these production issues by 2015. This isn’t an accolade anyone wants to earn two years in a row.
Winner: Xbox One
Why: For not screwing up as much.
Which won 2014?
These are both great systems; each have their own set of flaws, and people love them for different reasons. But when it comes down to it, the PS4 takes the crown for 2014. Of course, in 12 months, it has to defend its title.