The date for the next generation of video gaming has been set, 22nd November 2013. The last company to announce the release date which is for the Microsoft Xbox One while Sony’s Playstation 4 is set to release on the 15th November in the USA and on the 29th November in the EU. The Nintendo Wii U began the 8th generation of home console video gaming when it released in November 2012, one full year before the other 2 main competitors but has had lack lustre sales over the one year head start.
Microsoft has aimed its release date to be worldwide but has undercut Sony by one week in the market it has struggled in the most, the EU. Microsoft is making sure that the EU is a focus point in aggressive marketing by bundling day one consoles via FIFA14 which is the equivalent to NFL in the USA. The only problem the company will have is that the console is £429 in the UK compared to the £349 for the PS4, which makes the console even harder to sell. Both companies would try to use their existing infrastructure with their online platforms in order to transfer current generation gamers into the next generation.
Microsoft has secured exclusive games and content for their next generation console such as Titalfall and content with the Call of Duty Ghosts which is most likely to be timed exclusive. Gaming analysts and websites such as IGN like the originality of Titalfall with good use of the next generation’s technical power. The game allows user to be a soldier who can run up walls with futuristic weapons but also let the player use mechanical robots, known as a “Titan”, to move around to fight against enemy ‘mech’ soldiers. The game is based on a futuristic concept much like the Halo series and Gears of War series, which are both exclusive to Microsoft.
Microsoft have had a lot of backlash from gamers since they announced the Xbox One console towards the end of May 2013. At the beginning, Microsoft had opted for a digital strategy to disallow gamers to share physical copies of games, and had strict digital rights management as well as an always online connection being required with the Kinect camera needing to be always connected. Since then the company has heard the feedback from the gamer community, which has mainly been against these policies and now each one of these features has been removed or adapted significantly so that it matches more closely to current generation requirements. Some analysts feel that Microsoft are are listening to the consumer which is the best possible outcome for the success of the console, whilst some analysts think that the damage has been done.
The PS4 on the other hand has seen to be resonating with gamers, with their pro indie stance on game development and gamer friendly policies. Sony had chosen to unveil their console in 2 different stages: the first announcement which acknowledged the console’s existence and revealed the controller with the second announcement being the E3 expo 2013 where the console was revealed with a myriad of games, both first party and indie games.
The E3 presentation revealed the price of the console for three main markets, much like Microsoft’s presentation, as well as the design of the PS4. The exclusive games which were announced were Driveclub which allows players to join clans of drivers so compete in different racing challenges, as well as Infamous: Second Son which allows the player to use powers in a post appocalyptic Seattle. There were various other indie games shown which was a nice welcome for the hardcore gaming audience as well as games from Square Enix which has been fairly quiet when it came to game development.
Sony was said to have won E3 2013 and that was mainly due to it’s straight forward approach to answering the gamers’ concerns with new policies. Gamers wanted to know whether or not Sony will follow Microsoft’s now revoked console features such as the always online where Sony took a direct attack on it’s competitor by stating their policies in a clear confident manner. They even released a cheeky video to reflect the policy. In the most recent gaming conference in Germany, GamesCom, Sony revealed that they had received over 1m in pre-orders for the PS4, while Microsoft have yet to reveal any pre-order numbers.
At this point in time, there is no way to tell who will end up “winning” the 8th generation of home console gaming. Microsoft is taking a “all in one media system” approach, while Sony has chosen to focus on the core gamer. As for Nintendo, they are trying to imitate their success from the Nintendo Wii by targeting casual gaming for all members of the family. The product life cycle for newer generations of home console gaming is over 8 years, where in the past consoles where revamped over a shorter time period. This is mainly due to the fact that technology was moving much faster back then, whereas now there are only advances in CPU/GPU power with little advances in overall technology. This generation could last until early 2020s, and the content of the software will only get better in quality over time as developers get used to the consoles architecture, which is very similar to PC development.