After yesterday's PlayStation 4 announcement, gaming fans (almost) everywhere are wondering: what about Xbox? For all the excitement the PS4 is generating, the fact remains that a console is only as good as its competition. Now that we know a little more about the PS4, and since many of the rumored specs turned out to be the actual specs, we're gonna take an early look at the debate that will dominate 2013.
This is the most nebulous of all the info we have on either system so far. Kotaku is reporting a November release, and Sony announced a "Holiday 2013" release at yesterday's event. Obviously, Sony wants to put the PS4 out before Christmas in the hopes it will be the hottest product for 2013. And that's exactly what Microsoft wants too. Some industry insiders are predicting a November release for the Xbox 720, but Microsoft hasn't confirmed anything as of yet. A more credible rumor suggests that Microsoft is planning an Apple-style event at the Game Developer's Conference in March to unveil the Xbox 720. Of course both systems are likely to be prominent features at this year's E3 conference in June. So although we don't know specific dates yet odds are we'll see both system's by year's end, barring any unforeseen setbacks in production.
Ask any woman or gun enthusiast and they'll tell you the same thing: size matters. In the great PS4 vs Xbox 720 debate the size that matters is the teraflops. For those not in the technical know, teraflops are essentially a unit of measurement for overall computational power. So, if you add up what the CPU, GPU, RAM, etc. in a system can handle you get your teraflops. And, according to leaks, PS4 is about 50 percent bigger than Xbox 720 in the teraflop department. Sources told VG247 that the PS4 will have a run capability of 1.84 teraflops. The Xbox 720 will have only 1.23 teraflops. Does this mean the PS4 will be 50 percent superior to Xbox 720? Both systems will likely feature 8 GB of RAM, but the power of a system isn't necessarily related to the guts of the system. A big portion depends on how developers take advantage of the hardware, and we still don't know enough about the background programs in the OS for each system to know how much RAM will be available for gaming.
Sony confirmed a number of titles at its event last night, but not many of them were exclusives. Big name titles like "Destiny," "Watch Dogs" and "The Witcher 3" will be available on both consoles. And we can assume the same for most of the blockbuster games fans are anticipating, like "GTA 5," for example. But how do the exclusives titles stack up against each other?
For now, it's too early to tell. The exclusives announced at yesterday's Sony event were, in my opinion, pretty lackluster. With the exception of the indie title "The Witness," there wasn't a lot on the Sony side that seemed to scream innovation or even originality. The "Killzone: Shadowfall" trailer was graphically impressive, but FPS is as FPS does. And since we haven't had a formal announcement from Microsoft on the Xbox 720, we don't know of any exclusive titles to the system (although we can assume Halo 5 will pop up at some point in the next couple years).
The next gen gaming landscape will likely be similar to today's market; blockbuster titles will release for both systems and the differences will come down to DLC exclusivity. Iconic titles like "Uncharted" and "Halo" will find sequels on their respective systems. Indie development is a true wildcard however, and with both companies touting improvements in cloud gaming and digital content, we will (hopefully) see an even larger library of indie titles in the near future.
Basically, what we're looking at right now are two systems that have virtually identical specs, share many of the same titles and will release around the same time. The marketing and the hype will work hard to convince gamers that these two consoles are radically different, and loyalties will form along the lines that exist now. Satisfied 360 owners will gravitate toward the 720, and PS3 fans will flock to the PS4. What will come to define these systems is not what they do well, but what they fail to do. The flaws are what guide us one way or the other (red rings of death, anyone?) and both Sony and Microsoft won't be talking flaws until the first dissatisfied customers start venting online.