Next Gen wars heat up
Only a few short months into the next-generation console war, Microsoft should begin to get a bit worried. Across the board, Sony's Playstation 4 is already consistently outselling Microsoft's Xbox One.
From a software perspective, both systems have yet to release a killer app or at the very least a major, triple-A exclusive title. While this will be remedied shortly with the releases of "inFamous Second Son" and "Titanfall" for the PS4 and Xbox One respectively, this current lack of software shows that customers are buying consoles based on the merits of the systems themselves. No longer does a must-play game sell the system; the console must be able to sell itself.
And that is where Microsoft's concern should lie with the Xbox One.
While consumers have come to expect modern consoles to include multimedia features like DVD/Blu-Ray playback and the ability to stream Netflix and other video services, main selling points of the Xbox One, including a picture-in-picture mode and seamless integration with the user's cable box can't help but come off as a bit gimmicky. Does it really take that much of an effort to pick up a remote and switch from your Xbox to cable? Furthermore, these features show a Microsoft that has seriously misjudged their audience. The kinds of people who will be spending an extensive amount of time on Xbox aren't necessarily the same people who are big traditional television watchers. Over the life span of the Xbox 360, many a game journalist would joke about ditching cable altogether as Microsoft added Netflix streaming and a flurry of sports content to the system.
In the end, the selling point gamers are most concerned with is the system's raw graphical power. Bottom line, some people simply don't want to pay an extra $100, fancy camera or not, for a piece of technology that is inferior to a cheaper competing product.
While Microsoft has done their very best to downplay the graphical disparity between Xbox One and PS4, you'll start to see some heads turning when it's announced that "Call of Duty GHOSTS" is only able to run natively in 1080p on the PS4.
When it's announced that "Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition" will run at 60 frames per second on the Playstation 4 and only at 30 fps on Xbox One, things will start to get serious.
While the casual observer might brush off these details as nothing more than high tech mumbo jumbo, the core gamer does not. These are for the types of people who adopt new systems earlier than anyone else and therefore set the precedent that the rest of the market will follow. To them, these "slight" differences mean everything.
The sales numbers certainly show it.
The PS4 sold 4.2 million units worldwide in 2013, while the Xbox One only managed 3 million units.
The PS4's lead is all but guaranteed to increase when the system launches in its home country of Japan, a market that has shunned the Xbox for over a decade, on Feb. 22.
It was recently announced that the PS4 is outselling the Xbox One in the UK by a ratio of 1.5 to 1. While figures for the US aren't readily available, it didn't take more than a trip to my local Best Buy to get my answer. Want an Xbox One? They had plenty lying on the shelf. I asked an employee where the Playstation 4s were. After a short chuckle, he explained that not only had they been sold out for weeks, but that the demand is so high, that Sony simply can't manufacture enough systems to meet keep up.
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