A new generation of video gaming is only weeks away, and the anticipation has reached a fever pitch.
Sony's PlayStation 4 hits store shelves on Nov. 15 and Microsoft's Xbox One will follow on Nov. 22. Gamers have been setting aside extra funds -- or, in many cases, mercilessly begging their parents to buy one of these consoles -- for months. Some devoted video gaming fans will purchase both systems, but most folks probably will invest in only one for the foreseeable future.
The most important debate, of course, is which one is worth the investment.
The PlayStation 4 will come with a price tag of $399, which is $100 less than the Xbox One. However, the Xbox One also will come with a revamped Kinect (Microsoft's hugely popular motion-sensing device), which was originally a $150 purchase on its own before Microsoft reduced the price to $99.99.
Let's take a closer look at what each of these upcoming video game consoles has to offer.
The case for the PlayStation 4
The PlayStation 4 is not only $100 cheaper, but it boasts better game-playing hardware. Richard Leadbetter of Digital Foundry has calculated that the PS4's graphics processing unit could have as much as 50 percent more raw graphical computational power than the one found in the Xbox One. That, as well as its faster graphics memory, should translate into games that are more visually thrilling on the PS4.
Sony also has made significant upgrades to its controller and its social gaming experience. Features like live video chat and Facebook will be integrated. When a player's friends purchase a new game, they'll know, and they'll be able to play new games before they've even finished downloading.
However, the biggest change is the addition of the Share button on the new DualShock 4 controller. By pressing this button, gamers can broadcast live gameplay, take screenshots or share videos of their latest gaming triumphs. If a player is stuck in a difficult section of a game, he or she can use the Share feature to call in for help from an online friend who can literally take over the controls.
The Sony DualShock 4 controller also has a new clickable touch pad on the front -- giving developers an additional option when designing games. All around, reviews have been very positive when it comes to the new PlayStation controller.
Any new "Uncharted," "Killzone" or "Ratchet and Clank" games will appear only on PlayStation. Other key games exclusive to the PlayStation 4 include "Infamous: Second Son," "Knack," "The Order" and "The Dark Sorcerer."
The case for the Xbox One
From Microsoft's first Xbox One event in May, the company's main focus has been to prove that the Xbox One would be much more than simply a video game player. The company began its presentation showing how the system would integrate with the television.
The Xbox One will allow users to switch from a game to a TV show to the Web to a movie to Skype and so on with just the sound of their voices. The Xbox One will not replace anyone's cable box, but it instead will allow users to plug their cable or satellite boxes into it, bypassing the cable company's interface, giving users control of live TV through their Xbox One.
The new version of the Kinect should be a significant improvement over the original. The device will always be on, and simply stating "Xbox on" will power up the entire system and sign users into their accounts based on facial recognition. Kinect 2.0 also will offer a wider field of view, better tracking of individuals and the ability to track more overall bodies. It will even be able to determine the user's current heart rate.
Any new "Halo," "Gears of War" and "Fable" titles will remain on the Xbox only. Other key games exclusive only to the Xbox One will include "Dead Rising 3," "Ryse: Son of Rome," "Killer Instinct," "Quantum Break," "Project Spark," "Titanfall" and "Forza 5." The company also pledged that all add-on downloadable content for "Call of Duty: Ghosts" would debut first on the Xbox One.
An expert's opinion
Now that you've seen what the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 have to offer, let's dig a little deeper. We've consulted with C.J. Strike, social media manager for Coin-Op.tv and former editor of GameplayUnlimited.com, to help console shoppers come a little closer to their decision. Here's what he had to say about the two new systems.
Q: As of right now, which console do you feel would be the better purchase?
A: "As of right now -- and it's unlikely to change -- the PS4 is the more powerful of the systems by what sounds like a decent margin. The Xbox One has had some not-so-great launch rumors that have begun to swirl, and they note that some games are running at a 720p resolution compared to 1080p on the PS4 and that some of the user interface is still buggy. These rumors are all unconfirmed, but the one known fact is that the PS4 hardware holds a solid edge over the Xbox One. The question is: Does that matter to the gamer?"
Q: The PS4 is $100 cheaper, but the Xbox One will also include a brand-new Kinect. Based solely on hardware, which one do you feel is a better value?
A: "The PS4. Well, I guess you could argue both ways. I like the Kinect and feel it was necessary for Microsoft to include it with the Xbox One if they want it to take off on the system, but the PS4 has better hardware specs overall."
Q: Upon release, which console do you feel will boast a better set of exclusive games?
A: "This is the topic that's most up in the air. Sony has a ton of awesome first- and third-party exclusive studios like Naughty Dog and Sony Santa Monica. Microsoft has a few in 343 Industries and Turn 10, but they rely on buying third-party exclusives to be competitive. It all depends on what games you like most. Sony will have the powerhouse exclusives like 'Uncharted.' Microsoft will have powerhouse exclusives like 'Halo 5,' but also will spend money to get early downloadable content on games like 'Call of Duty.'"
Q: Looking at the specs, these consoles seem very similar. They're both running eight-core processors and have 500 GB of storage (with cloud storage available). Both play Blu-ray discs, have voice commands and similar Wi-Fi capabilities. The big question is: Where do the biggest differences lie between the PS4 and the Xbox One?
A: "Power. If you really look at the specs, and if you're computer-hardware literate, you'll see that Sony did an amazing job of fitting some nice high-end hardware into the PS4 -- including 8 GB of GDDR5 RAM, which is brand new and a lot better than the Xbox's 8 GB of DDR3. The main difference outside of specs is focus. Sony has pounded in that they are focused on core gamers and the games for PS4. Microsoft has games, but also placed a heavy focus on all-in-one entertainment with their TV possibilities and media content."
Q: Sony's new Dual Shock 4 controller is already in Gamestop stores. What do you think of it?
A: "The DualShock 4 is a TON better than the DualShock 3. Being an Xbox guy for a few years, I've largely disliked the DualShock 3, but for the (DualShock) 4, Sony has addressed literally every complaint -- tighter sticks, bigger handles, better triggers, cupped sticks, touchpad and more."
Q: When the Xbox One was first revealed, Microsoft said that gamers would be forced to connect their Xbox One consoles to the Internet and that users wouldn't be able to play borrowed games. The backlash was swift and it didn't take long for Microsoft to reverse those policies. How do you feel Microsoft has recovered since that debacle back in May?
A: Well, they have recovered. Their messaging is still all over the place and people still aren't sure what to think, but the main thing is that they turned things around. The interesting thing to see will be how the launches go, and who sells more in the first month or two.
Q: For those who don't know as much about technology, what advice would you give them when shopping for one of these two consoles?
A: "Go for the games you want. Go for your price point. Go for your friends. The PS4 already wins the price at $100 less, but maybe you like 'Halo' or maybe your friends all play 'Call of Duty' on the Xbox. These systems will differ in power, but when push comes to shove, each consumer has to decide what they use the system the most for and buy based on that."
Shea Conner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @stjoelivedotcom.
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Original headline: Which new video game console is better?
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