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