I want to preface this by stating for those who do not know me very well that I am not a fangirl of any Big Three console makers. It’s always been that I get the systems that have the games I want to play. Last time around I got the Xbox 360 before my PS3 just because it had more that I wanted to play right away. (That was post-breakup with my ex where we had both consoles at launch.) And there is a reason Matt & I don’t have a Wii U as of yet – there isn’t anything we feel we have to play right now. As it is, our Wii isn’t even plugged in right now and the last thing we played on it was Super Mario 3.
Everyone knew that this year was going to be a big one for gamers; new consoles from Sony and Microsoft were on the horizon, meaning new engines to show off from developers and fresh IP to show them off with. We had two pre-E3 events; the first from Sony where we didn’t get to see more than the PS4 controller but we learned that this was a system for developers built by developers, saw some gameplay from Mark Cerny’s Knack to Guerilla Games next Killzone installment, and Sony re-affirmed it’s commitment to indie developers by opening up PlayStation Mobile and letting any aspiring game creator free license to publish over the PSN.
Microsoft followed suit weeks later, but instead of catering to their gaming community they focused far too much on television apps, Kinect’s always-on always listening and scanning the room, Skype integration – all things that aren’t interesting to me or most of the hardcore gamers I know. Games were ultimately ignored as they continued their focus on luring in the casual gamer, the non-gamer techies, the Apple loyalists. Then they really shot themselves in the foot the week prior to E3 by going on record with their DRM, privacy, and online connectivity requirements. Games are locked to your account, can only be lent to one friend who has to be on your friend list for 30 days prior, Kinect is always on and must be plugged in for the console to work, and your system must ping the Xbox servers once every 24 hours to verify your console and ownership of game library. And did I mention you can only trade in your Xbox One games if the publisher says you can?
Like many gamers, I was extremely disappointed in Microsoft’s Xbox One plan. Mostly because I hate Kinect and it was being forced into my home. We bought the first camera and it does not function in our apartment. I don’t want to yell at my television to get it to change a channel or pause my Netflix viewing. I was vocal about this but kept in mind things could change by the time Monday’s E3 presser came around.
And it didn’t. Microsoft didn’t bother to address gamers’ concerns during the presser, instead focusing completely on games. Games are great and all, hell, that’s my number one factor in deciding what system to throw my money at. Then they trotted out the same old same old: a fifth Forza, more Halo (yawn), you can buy Minecraft again (because the Xbox One has no backwards compatibility), Free to Play game World of Tanks (but you still need Live to play it), and Killer Instinct! Oh wait, that’s going to be Free to Play as well. A bunch of stuff we all know is multiplatform like Metal Gear Solid V, Watch Dogs and Assassin’s Creed. No brand new first party IP that screamed at me though.
Then Sony “won” E3. Showing off a sleek, slim and edgy PS4, Sony basically said that as long as you have power you can play your games. You can freely lend your games or trade them in, a PS Plus account works across the PSVita, PS3 and PS4 with it only being required for online multiplayer with PS4 (PS3 & Vita are still free). You don’t need the PS Camera if you don’t want in, so it isn’t packaged into the box. They again showed their pledge to support indie games by bringing a bunch of them on stage: Transistor from Supergiant Games, The Witness from Jonathan Blow, Octodad, Doki Doki Universe….. The list goes on. We saw new IP from Ready at Dawn who are bringing us the steampunk inspired The Order 1886 and Mark Cerny showed us some more from Knack. And wrapped it all up by announcing the system would sell for $399.
We’d been leaning toward PS4 as it was. Matt is a game programmer and Sony’s opening up of the PSM platform and his recent Vita purchase got the gears working in his head for all the things he could design and create for the system. We’re also a multi-gamer home and Microsoft’s still unclear used games/family account policy comes across as crippling to that. If we bought a second system, could I as the second account access our forced cloud library when Matt was playing on the first system? If I put the retail disc into the second system does that count as lending even if my account is tied to Matt’s in a family plan? But always-on Kinect really killed Microsoft’s chances with us that no Day One special achievement or console could bridge.
Knack and The Witness are currently listed as launch titles, both of which I want. Matt will probably want Infamous: Second Son as it is similar to Prototype of which he loved the first installment (and rage quit the sequel), and WatchDogs is multi-platform. And who knows how many indie games will be ready within that first month? None of Microsoft’s launch titles appeal to either of us, so why buy a system that would still there unused and collect more dust. We’ve already got a Wii doing that.
We haven’t ruled out an Xbox One making its way into our home, just like there is still a chance we’ll get a Wii U some day. Some day, one day, probably after a price drop or two.