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Sony's Pre-E3 Pros & Cons
Heading into E3 the biggest gripe most people could conjure up against Sony is that they have yet to reveal the actual console, in addition to a lack of 1:1 backwards compatibility support. The console will, however, allow you to stream older games from Gaikai. Unfortunately, due to the complex architecture of the Cell Processor and Sony having moved on toward an x86 setup, actual backwards compatibility via disc is not possible. But that's about as far as it goes on the Negative Nate side of things. On to brighter pastures we see that Sony has repeatedly made it clear that the PS4 will be about gaming. Yes, you can stream TV, watch movies and engage in social networking, which is an unquestionable given.
However, the real meat is that Sony has ties with Ustream and YouTube, allowing gamers to easily and conveniently network and manage streaming gaming sessions, which means the PS4 will be primed and ready for lots of monetary-ready “Let's Play” sessions. Sony actually showing a line-up of games – whether people thought they were lackluster or not is beside the point – showcasing that the company is committed to content and they have an actual stake in retaining and growing the core community of games. Easier development tools, a strong focus on indie and emerging sectors as well as a focus on mixed price points and PC ports means variety and actual video games will be available for the PS4 in great abundance.
Microsoft's Pre-E3 Pros & Cons
As mentioned, there were a lot of bad tempered rumors with nothing but brand damaging intentions circulating throughout the gaming sphere (and part of mainstream media) heading into Microsoft's pre-E3 conference. The company, unfortunately, did little to dispel ill will and instead ignored it, focusing on many of the various content expectations most core gamers dreaded: Social connectivity, Kinect and Windows 8 tablet-style OS integration. The entire pre-E3 conference centered around features that had nothing whatsoever to do with video games. While it's nice the company is branching out with media expansion, the Xbox brand was built on video games and that was the one thing we really didn't see at all during their conference. In fact, Microsoft made no mention about game technology at all. Will it be more or less efficient designing for Xbox One? Are the cores, RAM and GPU convenient for high-end and low-fi gaming? Will this new Kinect functionality impede with couch co-op? We don't know and Microsoft didn't say. This left many core gamers out in the cold.
On the upside, Microsoft at least has a very sleek OS running at the heart of the Xbox One and the exclusive Halo television series could be a huge breakthrough for the company. A basic overview of the specs also helped assuage fears of an underpowered console. The specs stack up nicely to the PS4. Having more than a dozen exclusive games on the horizon with more than half being brand new IP will also be a big boost for the console. Being able to transfer over your Xbox Live GamerTag from the 360 to the One is a nice touch and most importantly, they've kept the perfect design of the Xbox 360 controller. I love that controller so much.
Heading into E3
Both consoles still have a lot to prove before we get a pricepoint and start drooling over their holiday release windows. At E3 we can expect to see more from both consoles, but it's clear to say that Sony has a lot less to prove than Microsoft. We still know very little about the Xbox One despite seeing the actual, physical console. Also, there were so few games talked about for the console that it's hard to get excited. In fact, it's almost a nail-biting experience trying to figure if Microsoft will actually follow through with anything for core gamers or if that ship has sailed. For Sony, all they have to do is keep doing what they're doing and give us more gameplay for their upcoming titles as well as a first look at the actual console.
As it stands, Sony definitely has the ball in their court and if Nintendo can just get a few good exclusives it might turn into a Sony and Nintendo war, assuming Microsoft doesn't do something big to win core gamers back.
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