Is what you think you know really what you know? Or…something like that…
It’s sometimes hard to make heads or tails of things when information continues to change week to week. I’m specifically talking about the next-gen console launch. We’re heading into an exciting time as all the posturing and hype finally come to a head. We will move out of the phase of executives and PR people spinning you exactly why their particular piece of hardware is the be-all-end-all, and gamers will get to test drive the consoles for themselves. In the days and weeks to come following the launch, the forums and blogs will be abuzz with activity. Gamers will finally have a chance to make informed decisions based on real experiences. No more will there be speculation and idle gossip of “what if” this and “if this happens” that. The reality of what we have in our next next-gen systems will be right there for us to witness.
But I ask you…what do you really know about the consoles right now? Since E3, both companies (Microsoft more so than Sony) have seemingly been on a “retract and correct” campaign of misinformation regarding what to expect in the next-gen. The PR guys at Microsoft have spent as much time setting the record straight as they have promoting the positives.
Let’s take a look at what you can really expect on launch day and attempt to separate fact from fiction.
The Xbox One has had a rough couple of months. Ever since June, the console’s been under constant fire on one front or another. I can only imagine the execs at Microsoft feel like they are furiously laying the tracks as the PR train bares down, about to run them over (to coin a phrase from Peter Jackson). The Xbox One is no doubt in need of some serious clarity, as many of the misconceptions still prevalent are due to statements that Microsoft itself first made! So, the guys there shot themselves in the foot in that regard.
First, you WILL NOT need an always-on Internet connection. Previously leading people to believe that this was the new policy, Microsoft now allows gamers to “unplug” (but only after the initial setup). You WILL be able to play your used games from GameStop or rented titles from GameFly; Microsoft initially gave the impression that it was locking down how your console will interact with game discs, making things run more like the CD-Key based system on the PC. This is no longer the case (after a huge negative backlash from gamers). You WILL NOT have mouse and keyboard support at launch. This is a coveted feature of many PC shooter fans and is something that may be developed in the future but won’t be initially available. Finally, you WILL NOT be data mined. Concerns were raised when some developers and ad execs talked about the possibilities of how the built-in Kinect technology could give advertisers a window into a gamer’s world, allowing them to customize what ad content they see. Microsoft has since made it clear that it has no intention of selling or disturbing any personal data collected on your console. Let’s hope they keep this promise.
In the “we got our shit together” category, Sony wins the opening volley before a single review is even posted. As bumpy as Microsoft’s launch has been, I gotta hand it to the folks behind the PlayStation 4. They’ve been a pretty well-oiled machine and have kept things pretty tight as far as public perception regarding their console and stream of information goes.
Of course, that doesn’t mean there haven’t been a few slipups. First, and possibly one of the more painful, is losing two major launch titles. After Watch_Dogs was announced it would be delayed for six months, it was also revealed that you WILL NOT get the PlayStation 4 exclusive DriveClub at launch. In addition, if you’ve yet to upgrade your TV setup to the more modern HD, you WILL be out of luck with the PS4. Sony was forced to retract data from the tech specs page of the console that indicated it would support analog (which it will not, only HDMI). Also, you WILL NOT be able to turn off the light-bar function of the DualShock 4 controller as previously reported. This means that, without the additional hardware connected to the console that integrates with it, the light bar is basically an “always-on” flashlight that will help drain your battery life.
Now, if you compare the two above paragraphs, the length of the two (with Microsoft’s being significantly longer) may make it appear that I’m a Sony fanboy who is out to bash the Xbox One. Nothing could be further from the truth. It’s simply that (in my attempt to do my due diligence) I found almost a 2:1 ratio of data regarding misinformation that had to be corrected in some way. This simply means that, even if Microsoft’s console ends up dominating the console war, Sony still did a better job getting their console to market. So, again, that point goes to the PlayStation 4. SCEE Blog Manager Fred Dutton also recently responded to a blog post, stating Sony’s intent of releasing a “grand FAQ” that will clear up any remaining questions people may still have regarding its console. Again, even though there are concerns, Sony seems to be a little more on top of it.
Hopefully, you’re now a little clearer on exactly what to expect from your next-gen consoles. It’s easy to get things twisted around when developers can be so double-minded on things (only reversing course when the community smacks them down). Hopefully by the time the next next-gen comes around, the PR teams at Microsoft and Sony will have figured out a way to release their consoles with a little more finesse.