Tobold's Blog
Wednesday, June 12, 2013
Declaring winners

There are a lot of gaming publications declaring Sony's PS4 "having won" E3 against Microsoft's XBone. The PS4 is cheaper, has no phone-home-once-per-day DRM (but it does have disc-based DRM!), and no always-on camera watching you. But I think that it is a gross oversimplification to declare winners based on DRM issues. In my experience DRM causes a lot of noise, and very little actual impact on sales. For example the Wii U also has no internet-based DRM for games you buy on a disc, but was still a flop. People base their buying decision a lot more on what games are available for a console.

Now this is kind of lucky for me, because the PS4 appears (like previous generations) to have more of the games I like to play, for example role-playing games. From what you see announced for the XBone, you might be excused for thinking that the thing only can play shooters. In reality games like Final Fantasy 15 aren't Playstation exclusives any more, and many of the games shown for the PS4 will also run on the XBone; but the focus of the presentation seemed different.

So I would be careful to declare a winner until we know how many millions of consoles of each type sold let's say in 2014. My prediction is that the $100 price difference will do more for Sony than the DRM issue, but that a lot of shooter fans still will buy an XBone because of exclusive games like Halo or Titanfall.

PC might still be the winner this gen. But it's nice that the price of PS3s will likely come down -- the best thing about that console is the bluray player imo.
Amazon US sells out Xbox One pre-orders.

No matter how much mud you throw on the face of your customers, they will keep spending their money year after year. EA is a good example: horrible customer care but guess what? Battlefield 4 will sell for stellar numbers.

I am sure we are a vocal minority. Young console gamers will just beg for a new Xbox in any case, praying Santa or daddy to give them one.

but they declare: won based on what they have seen at the E3, and based on that, the PS4 trumps the XBone in each and every category (except maybe from a publisher point of view).

Also for me as consumer, sale-number does not define who "won", it is just one aspect of things that can be used to score.
Sales numbers don't have a direct effect on how much fun I'm having with the console. But as much as it sucks to not have the Next Interesting Game playable on your console of choice, I understand developers who don't want to use all that time and money to develop on a platform with limited market saturation. Still, if sales figures were the only deciding factor, the Wii would have been my favourite console of this generation. The platform provider's disinterest and/or inflexibility hostility counts for a lot.
Of the previous generation the Wii "won" with 99 million units sold, over the XBox 360 with 76 million sold, and the "loser" PS3 with 70 millions sold. My best guess for this generation is a reversal, with the PS4 coming out ahead of the XBone and the Wii U coming last.

As long as the numbers are close, who won in sales doesn't really matter. But the lack of success of the Wii U already caused game companies to at least partially abandon the platform. So "losing" the console generation war can lead to some multi-platform game being available for only the winning consoles.
"PC might still be the winner this gen."

I agree. I think we are going to see PC gaming pick up and console gaming slow down. I also think from what I have read that Microsoft is looking at a bigger audience that simply gamers with the XB1. They want their new console in more homes that gamers. MS is looking to the future and where games and TV will be in 5 years not where they are today. In the long run I think they may end up being the winner. But not out of the gate.
The XBOX Prism has bad timing, considering the NSA leaks...
It's all about the public perception. If the XBox is perceived as the loser, even people who don't care about these issues will shy away, especially when it's the more expensive option.

As far as the preorders, that's nice but between fanboys and speculators that's not surprising.

Also not impressed with the other entertainment stuff. Jee, it's a Roku and a console and a Blu-ray player! That's like $100 worth of electronics and it only costs $500 bucks! It's good the consoles are doing it, don't get me wrong, but they have to work as game consoles primarily, and then as entertainment centers.

But Tobold, did I not nail it! I told you if XBox did all this DRM stuff and Sony didn't they'd be toast.

I was going to ask you why you insisted on calling it the X-bone. But then I realised that Microsoft actually did that themselves... Good one, Steve!
E3 is a public relations and marketing exercise. Saying PS4 "won" E3 over the the Xbox One is pretty non-controversial at this point, especially with Microsoft's follow-on blunders, like telling people to buy an Xbox 360 if they are concerned about the internet thing. (Shades of Steve Ballmer telling Vista critics to install XP.)

All of that, however, is not the same thing as saying the PS4 is going to win in the market place or that the Xbox One is doomed. After all, the Xbox 360 bounced back from the "red ring of death," and I cannot imagine any press worse than that.

Conflating the two propositions, as you seem to be doing, shows a misunderstanding of what was being said.
"But Tobold, did I not nail it! I told you if XBox did all this DRM stuff and Sony didn't they'd be toast."

I missed where you demonstrated that they are toast. At most you can say that some people agree with you, which is a low bar to jump.
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