First, a little about me and my current gaming habits – I’ve owned an Xbox 360 since March 2006 (it was released in November 2005). It’s definitely been a love-hate relationship, largely due to the hardware issues that have plagued Microsoft’s second console. But for the most part, I love my Xbox 360 and prefer it over the PS3 for many reasons. With the next generation of video game consoles on the horizon, I decided to side with one of them at launch. Before I looked forward, I had to take some time to look back, and also evaluate the current state of things.

Hardware Track Record

I’ve purchased 5 new Xbox 360 consoles and 1 used console in just over 7 years, and in that time, suffered over a dozen various hardware failures. The last 2 consoles I bought which I currently own, both slim models, haven’t had any issues, aside from the occasional freezing. But even then, they’ve locked up more times than I would have liked.

Xbox 360 - Red Ring of Death
In July 2007, I bought my first PS3. I never had a single issue with it, but decided to “upgrade” to the slim model simply because it was a bit noisy. My second PS3 has only crashed on me once.

I’m honestly shocked that no one seems to be bringing up the Xbox 360’s 100% failure rate (prior to the slim model’s release), since the Xbox One’s announcement. I was hoping a reporter would ask Don Mattrick, “Hey, remember the RRoD? That’s not going to happen this time, right?” But no one seemed to, or perhaps I just missed it?

Online Services

In recent years, the amount of time I’ve spent playing multiplayer games has dwindled significantly. Maybe once or twice a year, a games comes along that holds my interest for a few weeks or so, but that’s usually the extent of it. I much prefer a solid solo experience. Paying for an online service specifically for multiplayer is not something I would do. But I’ve retained my Xbox Live Gold membership for over 7 years now so I have access to other things like Netflix, which in my opinion, should be free to use anyway. If it wasn’t for family members using Xbox 360s in secondary rooms to watch TV shows and movies via Netflix, I wouldn’t have a Gold membership.

PlayStation Plus on the other hand, is absolutely fantastic, and well worth the $4/month. They constantly have sales, with exclusive pricing for members. But best of all; Instant Game Collection. At any given time, there are 8-12 full retail games members can download absolutely free of charge, and keep forever. If your subscription expires, you can no longer play the games, but once you renew, you regain that ability. Xbox Live introduced a similar tactic at E3 this year, offering Fable III (2010) for Gold members, with the promise of Halo 3 (2007) and Assassin’s Creed II (2009) down the road. At the time of writing, here’s what’s available for PlayStation Plus subscribers…

PlayStation Plus - July 2013

PlayStation Plus also extends to Sony’s handheld console; PlayStation Vita.

Notice, all of the PlayStation games were released in the last couple of years.

Trust

During the course of the last generation of consoles, both Microsoft and Sony have lost a fair amount of my trust. Microsoft, with their ever shifting focus away from games, and terrible hardware reliability. Sony, for how they handled the PSN outage back in 2011. But taking only the last few months into account, Sony definitely comes out on top. With a clear focus on games, and delivering an experience gamers want and have asked for, they’ve regained my trust entirely. Where as Microsoft have had to do an extensive amount of back-pedalling after failing to adequately educate the general public on some very delicate subjects; always-on internet connection and game licensing restrictions.

Xbox Boss Leaves Microsoft for Zynga

Don Mattrick with Xbox OneWTF? While I doubt this happened over night, I don’t think anyone saw this coming. Don Mattrick, the guy who has been the face of Xbox One, just left Microsoft for a company that laid off over 500 employees just a month ago. Maybe all of the negative press surrounding Xbox One’s debut got to him? Perhaps it’s shaken his faith in the product? Whatever the case, when the boss jumps ship before it sets sail, it’s generally not taken as a good sign. This goes right back to my point on trust. How can we trust in Xbox One when it appears the guy at the helm doesn’t?

Price Point

Honestly, $500 for a new console is no big deal. It’s on par with previous generations, and exactly what I expected both consoles to come in at, initially. The fact that Sony came in at $100 lower, is a bonus. When the Xbox 360 was released, there were 2 versions priced $399 and $499. PlayStation 3 was a whopping $599 at release. Here we are 7-8 years later, and we’re at $399 and $499, for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One respectively.

In Short

I feel that Sony is moving in the direction I want to see a console manufacturer headed, and are clearly trying to make up for some of their missteps during the PlayStation 3’s lifetime. PlayStation Plus is a much more enticing online service. And most importantly, Sony’s history when it comes to hardware reliability infinitely surpasses Microsoft’s. Also, it doesn’t hurt that it’s $100 cheaper.

Will you be picking up a next-gen console at launch? If so, which one?

9 Comments

Microsoft have indeed made many mistakes in their messaging building up to the reveal of the Xbox One and Sony have (rightly so) been there to pick up the pieces. Still, I don’t think this is settled just yet.

I still think the Xbox One will be my go-to console. This might just be me, but last gen, I found my self switching on my 360 more often mainly because of the system level experience (dashboard, community and other things).

I think the same thing will happen this gen too, Microsoft will win hands down in the UI/UX department. Being primarily a software company, they naturally understand human interfaces better. Navigating around the PS3’s XMB is a nightmare, not to mention the abomination that is the PS Vita Menu.

While the PS4’s UI does look marginally better, I still think taking human interface cues from the likes of Pinterest and Facebook for a video game console is the sign of a company working outside of its comfort zone.

Let’s also not forget the online infrastructure of the 360, the dashboard updates and the phenomenal track record of Xbox Live Arcade.

Speaking of Dashboard updates, remember when you bought your 360 back in ’05 and the evolution of the Dashboard (blades, tiles, avatars, party chat, installing games to HDD etc.) over time? Remember when you bought your PS3 back in ’06? Notice how things still look the same seven years later.

Microsoft’s console strategy was forward-thinking from day one. And while it undoubtedly had its issues early on with the RROD right up until the redesign, its been consistently the best console this gen, even with all of PS3’s great exclusives.

In regards to Mattrick, there were rumours about him leaving months ago. Also, it probably looks good after all the backpedaling that MS get rid of the guy that was publicly pushing these DRM policies. In regards to Zynga, regardless of their problems he’s going from VP to CEO – that’s a huge step up!

I know this comment might come off a bit fanboyish, but I’m just a dude that loves video games. I have no allegiance. As for me, I’ll be picking up both on day one, as history has shown each console boasts a decent library by the end of its lifecycle (even the Wii).

Sorry for the long post.

Thanks for the insightful comment. You’ve brought up some good points, in particular, the user interface of both consoles. It is pretty crazy that Sony never changed PS3’s interface from day one, but I really didn’t have too much of a problem with it. It’s simple, and quick to navigate. They did step it up with their storefront, though. While the current version is a bit clunky with all of those huge graphics, they handle many aspects better than Microsoft. As for Xbox 360 dashboard, it seems the amount of beefs I have with it grows with each update.

I will inevitably pick up an Xbox One, just not at launch. Looking forward to seeing what both bring to the table in the end, and this head-to-head competition we’re seeing right now is benefiting us gamers in a big way.

I have owed the xbox and xbox360, but I’m going to jump ship and get the PS4 this round at launch. I think Sony was too arrogant with their PS3 release – they thought everyone would buy one because the original Playstation was popular, but that assumption hurt them. Sony has since listened and implemented what the customer’s wanted and that’s a big improvement and a great way to fix your business.

It feels like the tables have turned, where as Microsoft are the ones coming off arrogant this time around.

While I’m sure at some point next year I’ll have both next generation consoles, I pre-ordered an Xbox One for now. And I think the Xbox haters are being ridiculous, here’s why.

The whole “always connected” thing was misinterpreted, and the way the servers would’ve checked the game every hour for ownership would’ve been awesome when paired with the “family license” that Microsoft had planned. Imagine being able to share your games with anyone you deem part of your “family?” For free? And there was apparently a lot more too it if they didn’t have to backpedal.

But Microsoft apparently didn’t market it well, or explain it well. Or maybe people are just too dumb to “get it.” That’s what forward thinking does to you.

Also, the connected TV experience looks pretty awesome, and my wife has already said that she thinks the One would be great in our living room. Not the game room, or the Man Cave, or some other room dedicated to gaming.

And as far as the extra $100 goes for the always included Kinect, I think it’s a good move. It ensures that every home with an Xbox will have a Kinect. And that means that any innovations that depend on it going forward will “just work.” Of course I’m concerned about privacy issues too, but that’s not just Microsoft’s problem.

And wasn’t there a big problem with the PlayStation Network a while back where it got hacked? I don’t remember any major issues with Xbox Live over the years, and I consider it to be a better online gaming experience. Especially with the changes proposed at E3.

Lastly, the Xbox controller has been superior ever since the gigantic original one was redesigned. Sony hasn’t done much at all with the PS controller, and I still hate it compared to Microsoft’s offering. Does anyone actually prefer the Sony controller?

To each his own, of course. I’ve never had a single issue with the 3 Xbox consoles I’ve owned (original, 360 1st gen, 360 Slim), so I’m not sure what all the fuss is about there either.

Thanks for chiming in, Patrick.

RE: Always On
This is a tough point. For me personally, it wouldn’t really have an effect. I buy my games legitimately and always have access to an internet connection. But I have friends who have consoles at their cottages, where there is no internet access. I know the military was another concern for some. It would make more sense if you had to validate the game (by way of a serial number or something) when you first install it on your primary machine, then no checks are required moving forward. To access that game on other consoles, you would have to check in every hour. Something like that would be perfectly acceptable in my books.

I truly believe the back-pedalling is entirely Microsoft’s own fault, and not the general public for misunderstanding a message that wasn’t adequately delivered. There were too many open-ended points made during the initial announcements, that lead to worry, confusion, and speculation on the consumer end.

RE: TV
That’s pretty awesome that your wife sees a use for it, aside from gaming. We don’t have cable television in our household, so the entire TV functionality is useless to me.

RE: Kinect
I’ve had a Kinect in my house since day one, and it’s rarely been used. Another bit of tech that I care nothing about.

RE: PSN Outage
Yes, I mentioned this in the Trust section. That definitely hurt Sony, and I still refuse to connect my credit card to my PSN account, and use pre-paid cards to buy things from their store.

RE: Controller
I was totally worried what Sony would/wouldn’t do with the PS4 controller, as like you and everyone else, favour the Xbox 360’s controller exponentially over the PS3’s. I like the changes that have been made to the PS4’s controller, and from what I’ve heard, a lot of people have been liking the feel of it. Victor Lucas, a prominent Canadian game reviewer/TV host, has been pretty vocal about it, and said at the end of E3 that he liked the PS4 controller a lot more than the Xbox One’s. Previously, he favoured Xbox 360 over PS3.

Sounds like you’re one of the lucky ones in terms of hardware. I only know one person in the real world who hasn’t experience a hardware failure on an older Xbox 360.

I’m absolutely conflicted as to what to get. Having never had a PS since the PS1 and never liking the PS controller I’ve always been in favour of the Xbox. I’ve also gone through the RRoD hell, and fingers crossed that my Elite has always been good to me so far.

There’s some great games coming out for both so I might just hold out to have a look at them in store before deciding.

Maybe change is a good thing?

Nice write up Matt. I agree completely and have already pre-ordered a launch day PS4 from Amazon. I am in a similar situation as you, I’ve pretty always liked playing games on my Xbox 360… and while I do own a PS3, it’s primarily used just for watching movies over my network attached storage or Netflix. In my opinion, the 360 just had better games… but as well as you, I also have probably had 6-7 360 consoles since it’s launch. Whether it was the RRoD or the disc tray not reading correctly, there always seemed to be a problem.

After all the initial changes with the Xbox One, I decided that PS4 was the way to go and can’t wait to get my hands on it. I’m just hoping they can get HBO Go and some of the other video services that the 360 currently has available.

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