Microsoft and Sony's new gaming machines ushered in a new era of interactive entertainment, and we can say with enthusiasm that their launches have been remarkably successful. But only one can take the cake in this head-to-head comparison.
Here's our comparison of both the PS4 and Xbox One's launches, along with our verdict on the victor.
Xbox One vs PS4: Consoles
PS4: With the PS4's hashtagged '#4ThePlayers' slogan, it's clear Sony wants to target those in the market for a gaming console rather than the all-in-one entertainment system Microsoft wants the Xbox One to be. While it's achieved this, bringing beautiful graphics in the process, it's at the cost of features. The UI is simple and barebones. Features that even the PS3 had are missing.
Xbox One: Microsoft may be selling a less powerful console for more money, but the Xbox One brings a new Kinect with some impressive functionality. Its inclusion of Skype, TV integration, an NFL app, customization, and greater multitasking capabilities give it a serious feature edge over the PS4.
Verdict: Both the Xbox One and PS4 are great consoles for different reasons. While the Xbox One is more robust and impressive, its additional $100 price evens the playing field. Neither wins here.
Xbox One vs PS4: Games
PS4: The PS4 had the weakest launch lineup of all three next-gen consoles, with both its first-party exclusives, Killzone: Shadow Fall and Knack, receiving middling reviews. A console is never defined by the games it launches with (if that was the case, both the Xbox 360 and PS3 would have been doomed) but aside from the downloadable Resogun and multiplatform titles, it's slim picking for early adopters of Sony's new console.
Xbox One: With Forza Motorsport 5 and Dead Rising 3 leading the charge, the Xbox One's launch lineup gave buyers quite a few games to occupy themselves with on day one. While it still doesn't have that one great game to entice consumers to buy the console before its inevitable price drop next year, it still offers a solid selection of titles.
Verdict: The Xbox One has the better launch lineup. While the PS4 might be a more powerful console and therefore display its multiplatform titles in a prettier resolution, there's simply more games worth playing on Microsoft's console for the foreseeable future.
Xbox One vs PS4: Online Services
PS4: There were some online connectivity issues with PSN during the console's launch, which weren't exactly unexpected, but were nonetheless a gripe for those wanting to instantly hop online for a few games of Battlefield 4. Outside of these problems, PSN on PS4 is being praised as a huge improvement over the PS3's online service, and even though it now requires a subscription fee, with all the free goodies you'll be receiving from Sony it's well worth it. This, combined with its integrated Twitch streaming and apps that aren't hidden behind a paywall (for shame, Microsoft), make PS4's online service very inviting.
Xbox One: Xbox Live was the most functional online service of the last generation of consoles, but Microsoft cannot get by on functionality alone this time round now that Sony has upped its game. This means that Xbox Live on the Xbox One will continue to offer subscribers free games, something which Microsoft introduced at the tail-end of the Xbox 360's life-span. Unfortunately, Twitch streaming has been delayed until Q1 2014, and the console has hidden apps (including the Microsoft-owned Skype) behind its Live paywall, meaning only subscribers can access it. Despite this, it's still the leader for networking and online play.
Verdict: It's a tie. Out of the gate, PSN offers more options for the buyer who doesn't want to pay for a yearly fee. However, gamers will be subscribing since it's required for online play, and XBL is a more refined online experience while PSN has free games starting day one.
Xbox One vs PS4: Reliabilty
PS4: Thousands of consumers have received their PS4 only to be unable to play it. HDMI port and hard drive issues have caused stress for otherwise excited consumers.
Xbox One: Problems with the disc drive have been uncommon, but problematic. While the issue doesn't cause a catastrophic failure like the PS4's problems, it similarly requires a replacement to remedy.
Verdict: Both consoles have a low failure rate upon arrival. While they are caused by different problems, both are equally as disastrous.
Xbox One vs PS4: The Sales
PS4: Sony sold over 1 million units in two regions, making it the biggest console launch of all time.
Xbox One: The Xbox One sold over 1 million units in thirteen regions, though the exact number hasn't been revealed for either console's North American sales, which is arguably their target audience.
Verdict: It's a long-distance run, not a sprint, but out of the starting gate the PS4 appears to have sold an equal amount of consoles to fewer regions, giving it a sales edge.
Who Had the Better Launch?
While the release of the Xbox One and PS4 have been hugely successful for Microsoft and Sony, the Xbox One has the edge in the early game. After all, it's all about the games, and for now and the short-term future it has more high-quality games to play. Although its online service is only attractive for subscribers, it's still the extremely refined XBL experience we've grown to love. In terms of the console, the PS4 runs games better, there's no doubt about it. However, the Xbox One has way more options beyond just playing games. Unfortunately, it also costs $100 more. Lastly, both consoles stumbled out of the gate with hardware failure. On the postive side, the issues appear to only affect a small group of unlucky consumers.
We're going to give the nod to Microsoft and its Xbox One. That said, the battle is close and only has just begun.