I want you to be informed. Even if you don’t currently identify as a gamer, the gaming industry wants to change your life from right inside your living room. I just got back from the Electronic Entertainment Expo. At first, I was going to write about the cool games I saw, but something bigger is happening. The way we’re all going to consume entertainment is about to change.
Home Entertainment Centers Aren’t Just Furniture Anymore
The internet has turned into an enormous part of our lives. Being connected allows us to stay involved at a much higher capacity, allowing us to connect with groups or people who share similar interests and goals. Maybe you’ve noticed from the way advertising has gotten super obnoxious, but the entertainment industry is really trying to reign in our attention. So they made us shiny new machines that will hook into our cable boxes, go online, keep in touch with friends, watch movies and play games. Not only is this massively convenient for all of us, but it’s also a fantastically planned way for the entertainment industry to try and streamline our consumption of media as much as they can.
The Electronic Entertainment Expo
E3. Some of you have never heard of it. Others live for it. But just so we’re all up to speed: E3 = Electronic Entertainment Expo – an annual event for media outlets to report on all the cool new electronics that some big companies, like Microsoft and Sony, made for us this year. Imagine a colorful, indoor theme park with larger than life displays, people in costumes, music and a crapload of reporters.
Ellen Page was there. Snoop Lion / Dogg was there. Steven freaking Spielberg was there. This event clearly reaches all over the entertainment industry. But most people associate E3 with video games. Honestly, that’s the big draw… but underneath it all is the far bigger picture of culture as we know it.
Microsoft vs. Sony: Who Will Be THE 2013 Holiday Gift?
These aren’t your regular gaming consoles, people! They’re home entertainment systems. They’re both designed to transform your living room into a living media hub, as well as give you access to gaming .
Microsoft offers the Xbox One, Sony offers the PlayStation 4 (PS4). Both machines are cheaper than Apple’s audaciously priced iPhone. And both machines will be available for pre-order and shelves before Black Friday.
Technically, they’ve both got things you want like Blu-ray players and awesome processors. The major thing is CLOUD GAMING / ENTERTAINMENT. Both Sony and Microsoft use it, but kinda differently (stances and policies are always in flux). This ominous cloud has caused an enormous war between proponents of Microsoft and Sony. The main idea is, the consumer doesn’t need a physical game disc anymore and one can simply buy things digitally. We already do this on our iPads, tablets, phones, computers, etc. And this isn’t exactly new for major gaming consoles, either – both giants have “clouds” already. But there’s this thing called DRM, or Digital Rights Management, and that’s a legal thing to make sure consumers aren’t stealing. The entertainment industry works hard to create, but if we aren’t careful, companies can’t afford to stay in business without their licenses intact and instead we will be confronted with paying more for optional features like “DLC” (downloadable content – ie buy a new character to play) or “IAP” (in-app purchasing – ie buy an outfit for your character to wear).
Here are the basic major differences. You guys can discuss your preferences (and deeper console emotion) in the comments… but PLEASE my lovely gamers, play nice, kay? <3
Fancy black exterior, personalized homescreen interior. Xbox One is really aiming for the mainstream market. Their “Kinect” sensor will ship with the machine. The Kinect is a motion sensor that can track up to six people at once, even in darker rooms. It’s got a 3D scanner that can recognize voices, faces, individual heart rates and blood flow… but it will also know if you’re scared or stressed. They’ve integrated Kinect into several games already, including a zombie game called Dead Rising 3.. With the all-new Kinect, a zombie horde can hear beyond the screen and respond to noises inside your living room.
You can also talk to your TV and tell it to do stuff by stating a command like, “Xbox, Play” to bring up your music library. If you buy this system, you can watch Steven Spielberg’s newest live action TV show, Halo (based on the enormously successful game). OH! And everyone can play fantasy football right on the TV while you watch a game, because Microsoft made a deal with the NFL. Also, there’s a sweet camera built in that let’s you use Skype directly on your TV with an amazing picture. Here’s Microsoft’s Xbox One highlight video:
Xbox One has some cool exclusives. One of which is Quantum Break, a “revolutionary entertainment experience that blurs the line between gameplay and television“, promising a new generation of immersive entertainment. The goal is to master time to survive the present… and save the future. Here’s the promo:
There’s also a ton of Xbox One exclusive games that you’ll be interested in… but like I said in the beginning, we’ll talk about those next article.
However, regarding Xbox One’s cloud and that “DRM” thing I mentioned? Microsoft had an interesting feature that would allow you to share your entire game library with up to 10 people of your choice. But after gamers freaked out about losing the ability to physically control their game library, Microsoft changed their policy and got rid of the full on digital age. I have no doubt they’ll still roll it out slowly after the holiday release.
SONY’S PLAYSTATION 4 (PS4)
Also a black box. More angular. But inside it has gorgeous graphics, possibly better than Xbox One. It also has TV services like Netflix, social media, etc. Prior to E3,, Sony had originally talked about all it’s “non-gamer” services, but very much honed in on it’s gamer audience at the convention.
Sony has a major cloud, bigger than Xbox in that Sony has a huge catalog of movies right off the bat. Sony was also very loose about used games, unlike Microsoft (who has since changed it’s stance), making it okay for you to give a game you bought physically to a friend. LIKE THIS:
Sony said it would not be “always online”, unlike Microsoft (who again, has since changed it’s stance). Then they realllllllllllly highlighted the games. They have a ton of amazing 3rd party exclusives (we’ll talk about those later) and the announcement of the Sony Playroom which offers The Playstation Eye. The Eye is a motion sensor device that allows you to interact with an augmented reality, but will be sold separately:
Although Sony distanced itself from the conversation during E3, social gaming is a major part of their strategy. So much so, that there’s a Share button on the DualShock 4 controller. You will start your game met with comments from other players, and you can even sync your account to Facebook – allowing players to use real names. Also your friends can now hop in and virtually watch you play your game.
Playstation 4 also has some cool exclusives. One features the talented Ellen Page in a game called Beyond Two Souls, and is set to release in October 2013. Made by Quantic Dream, the script for Ellen was over 2,000 pages long and she logged many months of motion capture. The game trailer and over 1/2 hour of the game was screened at the Tribeca Film Festival (only the 2nd time in history a video game has been shown in this capacity).
IT LOOKS AWESOME:
So… Microsoft’s Xbox One is your friendly all-in-one machine that sometimes sends zombies to eat your face, and Sony’s PS4 is also your friendly all-in-one machine that sometimes sends your Facebook friends into your living room to annoy the crap out of you.
THIS IS THE FUTURE!! I’m not sure we’re ready. But being able to deliver this technology to the masses is an enormous accomplishment. “The Console Wars” will continue until the holiday season when we’ll be able to truly see who “won”.
Which console will you be buying?