For the past few months a lot of us cranky old hardcore gamers have been watching the PS4 outsell the Xbox One with a certain sense of smug satisfaction. Serves Microsoft right! They ignored us and tried to pawn off a system laden with draconian restrictions and are now getting their just desserts! Long live the Playstation 4!
That said, I see storm clouds on the horizon. I think Sony’s dominance may be short lived, and by the end of the year we may very well see the Xbox One outselling the PS4 handily. Here’s why…
Memories Are Short
Yes, the Xbox One’s unveiling was a PR nightmare that still haunts Microsoft to this day, but wisely they dropped all the console’s most rage-inducing “features” before launch, and memory of what the Xbox One was once supposed to be is rapidly fading. You can feel the online mood softening — whereas the Xbox One was once an always-online, worse-than-Hitler box from hell, gamers are cautiously dialling down their vitriol as games like Titanfall come out, and folks still dedicated to hating the machine are having to scramble for less-than-compelling justifications like “I need Xbox Live for Netflix!” People can’t maintain their Xbox One rage forever.
Not available on Johnny Call of Duty’s Xbox 360.
Cross-Generation Games Are Coming To An End
Up until now, only the most dedicated hardcore gamers have been buying next-gen consoles. The kind of folks who keep up with every scrap of video game news and actually care whether a game runs at 30 or 60 frames-per-second. Meanwhile everyone else has stuck with their Xbox 360s and PS3s, because why not? Almost everything on the Xbox One and PS4 also exists in a slightly less attractive current-gen form.
Sometime around the middle of 2014 that’s mostly going to stop. Big games like Tom Clancy’s The Division, The Witcher 3, Assassin’s Creed Unity and, of course, Halo go next-gen exclusive. Suddenly the core-casuals, the guys who play maybe half a dozen games a year and don’t really keep up with gaming news are going to turn their attention toward next-gen consoles. These folks are a huge (maybe the biggest) chunk of the console gaming population, and trust me, they weren’t paying attention last year when the Xbox One was being flayed alive by bad press. For most occasional gamers, the Xbox 360 was the console of choice this past generation, and when they decide it’s time to upgrade, they’re going to be looking towards the Xbox One first.
The Xbox One Is Probably In For A Big Shake-Up In 2014
But come on, brand loyalty will evaporate once core-casuals see the Xbox One’s $500 price tag, right? Maybe not. Evidence is mounting that the Xbox One on shelves by year’s end will be quite different from the current model. Microsoft is promising continued major system updates throughout the year, and they’ve already started cutting the system’s price overseas. Could we see a stripped-down, Kinectless Xbox One by the end of the year? Possibly. We’re almost certainly going to see the price drop to the $400 mark. By the end of the year, the difference between the Xbox One and PS4 is likely going to be much less pronounced in the eyes of most mainstream consumers. Hell, with Kinect and its TV-watching bells and whistles the Xbox One may even been seen as the better value.
“Hey, uh, guys? Can we get it together and make me a new game?”
Something Bad Is Happening Behind The Scenes At Sony
The Playstation 4 is a really well designed gaming console. Nobody’s denying that, but a system is only as good as the games you can play on that, and unfortunately Sony Worldwide Studios, the collection of first-party developers responsible for Sony’s biggest games, seems to be falling apart at the seams.
Driveclub, the title that was supposed to be the PS4’s big exclusive launch window racing game, has been delayed indefinitely. Naughty Dog, the studio behind Uncharted and The Last of Us has been leaking top talent, including Uncharted writer Amy Hennig. Sony Santa Monica, responsible for recent God of War games, has also been hemorrhaging talent. Insomniac Games, the company behind Ratchet & Clank and Resistance has defected altogether and joined team Xbox. And of course, we’re just talking about Sony’s video game division here — the rest of the company may be in even worse shape.
Point is, aside from The Order: 1886 the PS4s upcoming first-party line-up looks bleak, and given the turmoil behind the scenes, I wouldn’t count on a huge number of new announcements at E3.
Halo is going to kick the ass of, uh, what’s Sony got again?
And really, it all comes down to this. Xbox One will have a Halo game out this holiday and the PS4 will have, well, I’m not sure. Naughty Dog themselves have said Uncharted probably isn’t happening this year. Even if some miracle was to occur and Uncharted did happen in 2014, Nathan Drake just isn’t a star on the level of Master Chief. The PS4 may very well lead for most of 2014, but unless they have some crazy secret blockbuster up their sleeves (and I don’t think they do) this holiday season goes to Microsoft.
And of course, let’s not forget the Wii U — it could still come from behind and beat both the PS4 and the Xbox One! Haha, no, I’m kidding, but this Nintendo fan can dream.
What about you folks? How do you see things shaking out by year’s end?