Is it ‘Live by a landslide or PSN by a nose? Let’s find out…
Great rivalries have always been a part of history. From Caesar and Brutus to Billy Mitchell and Steve Wiebe, everyone loves a good battle. While the next-generation of consoles is no different; often times the focus is spent judging the systems on their technical merits of both the hardware and games that follow. While this is naturally the bread and butter of success, not nearly enough attention is given to what services each console has to offer (ultimately swaying its position in the market). In my opinion, a company’s online presence in the eyes of gamers today can literally make or break their future.
Thus, the advent of two gaming juggernauts was born in the Xbox Live and PlayStation Network platforms.
Before we get into the who’s who and what’s what of the current next-gen standings, I think it’s important we take a quick look back at how we arrived at our current state of affairs. Systems like the original Xbox and PS2 were the last bastions of a bygone era. I very much see them as the gate keepers of the “retro” period. While I wouldn’t call either of them classic consoles, it was these transitional systems that bridged the gap between standalones (like a Super Nintendo or even Sega Dreamcast) vs. the “always on, always connected” 360s and PS3s. While Microsoft is definitely on the receiving end of a royal ass whoopin’ at the moment, it was not always this way. In fact, the miscalculation on Sony’s part during the last-gen (launching over a year later than its rival) was a hurdle they simply couldn’t overcome.
However, I credit the 360’s dominance to much more than an earlier launch. Xbox Live was the single biggest innovation of last generation. PERIOD. I don’t want to hear arguments about it in the comments section below (or maybe this is reverse psychology). Everything you know and love about your console dashboards springs from these advancements at Microsoft. In fact, the term dashboard is completely antiquated. “Multimedia hub” is way more accurate, as everything from games, music and movies are piped right into your home, accessed from the comfort of your couch! It was these efforts that cemented Microsoft’s victory. Of course, this was also the time when Sony debuted the PSN. While a milestone in its own right, let’s face it…’Live was where it was at. The PSN of last-gen became little more than an afterthought (living in the shadow that Microsoft’s platform had cast).
But now, those glory days of Team Xbox are over. The PlayStation has made immense strides on nearly every front!
I’m not one of those guys who sit back and refuse to acknowledge the changing of the tides. There are some who, just because something reigned supreme once, refuse to believe things could ever be any different. But what is the reality? Well, I can tell you unequivocally the PSN of 2014 rivals that of Xbox Live in virtually every way. If you were to start scrolling down the list of features (also comparing things like interfaces, streaming content, apps, etc) you’d be hard pressed to notice much of a difference at this point. While being “just as good as their competitor” isn’t necessarily a feather in their cap, seeing how far the PSN has come to rival (perhaps even overtake) ‘Live is impressive to say the least.
But if the question comes down to which is truly better, I’m not sure there is a definitive answer (at least not yet). While some would point to PSN as providing a better baseline (with their Plus service falling more in line with ‘Live), I still say much of the debate hinges on personal preference. As of this writing, I feel the nod probably goes to Xbox Live. Microsoft seemingly retains the full faith and credit of most the gaming community in regards to providing the best multiplayer experience overall (which you’ve probably heard is a big deal right now). However, it’s not to say this couldn’t change in a few short years.
Mark my words, when Sony rolls out their innovative new PlayStation Now streaming service in force, I will likely be writing an article with a VERY different ending (and possibly canceling my Xbox Live subscription).