PlayStation 4 vs. Microsoft Xbox Next

PlayStation 4 vs. Microsoft Xbox Next

The PlayStation 4 is in its embryonic stage, if it’s even gotten that far, so we won’t know much about it for quite some time. But one fact that has been confirmed by Sony is that the company won’t be investing as heavily into the PS4’s specs as it did for the PlayStation 3. Not a huge surprise: It took over four years for the PS3 to turn a profit, and that’s not a bath Sony can afford to take again.

IndustryGamers asked industry analysts late last month to peer into their crystal balls and predict what kind of successes and speed-bumps Sony will be up against if it puts affordability ahead of cutting-edge technology. Asif Khan of Panoptic Management Consultants predicted that the PlayStation 4 may utilize lesser technology, and could wind up under Microsoft’s foot as a result.

“Perhaps we could look at the NGP as a model for what to expect from the PS4, and if the recent rumors of the NGP RAM being cut in half are true this could support the idea that the PS4’s hardware could be less impressive than the PS3 at its launch,” he told IndustryGamers. “I think Microsoft will really be able to put the screws to Sony in the next console war.”

An interesting prediction on Kahn’s part, though we really don’t know enough about the PS4 to determine if it’s off the mark (we know even less about whatever Microsoft has in store for the next Xbox). However, we can take a vague guess at the future for the PS4 if we rustle through past industry trends and apply Sony’s recent comments about not investing the company’s entire future in the PS4. For instance, it’s unlikely that the PS4’s technology will be, as Kahn predicts, “less impressive” than the PS3’s. A 160 GB Playstation 3 currently sells for $299.99, which is down quite a bit from the PS3’s original asking price of $599.99. Hard drives, processors, and the other chippy stuff that make up the innards of a game system get cheaper every day. If Sony doesn’t manufacture the successor for the PS3 for another few years, there will be no reason to make the PS4 a less powerful system than the PS3; the price of PS3-level technology will have dropped significantly in that time.

As for the PS4 being at the mercy of whatever Microsoft brews up, that’s also debatable. We know almost nothing about Microsoft’s plans for the future at this time, but for all we can guess, the shoe could switch to the other foot. What if, in the next generation, it’s Microsoft who will become unreasonably confident that gamers will pay any price for the Xbox because, “Hey, it’s an Xbox, and everybody loves Xbox Live,” while Sony works especially hard to bring the PSN up to snuff and then offers it through an affordable game system? After all, console gamers are no longer dazzled by a system’s processing power. Rattling off lists of numbers and specs is kind of fun, but they ultimately mean nothing if a system has no compelling games to speak of. Morever, we exist in an era where a game’s simplified graphics and gameplay are accepted and even welcomed as long as the core mechanics are fun.

Kahn also brought up another interesting point in the brewing war between PlayStation 4 and Xbox Next: Sony manufactures decent technology. Microsoft, less so. Will gamers put up with another Red Ring epidemic? Another long, slow wait while Microsoft ships over a cardboard coffin and replaces the bricked system with a refurbished unit that also stands a good chance of throwing up that awful red rune?

It’ll be some time before the eighth generation of game consoles have matured to a point where we can compare them all side-by-side, but from this angle, it’s hard to believe that Sony will have its throat cut by Microsoft.

About Nadia Oxford
Nadia is a freelance writer living in Toronto. She played her first game at four, decided games were awesome, and has maintained her position since. She writes for 1UP.com, Slide to Play, GamePro and other publications, and is About.com’s Guide to the Nintendo DS.

1 Comments

  1. “this could support the idea that the PS4′s hardware could be less impressive than the PS3 at its launch,”

    I think the point that Asif Khan is trying to make is Sony’s choice to use the newly developed cell processor in the PS3 was technically really impressive. But that they will probably go with a more standard chip set for the PS4. (as Microsoft and Nintendo have done.)

    “If Sony doesn’t manufacture the successor for the PS3 for another few years, there will be no reason to make the PS4 a less powerful system than the PS3; the price of PS3-level technology will have dropped significantly in that time.”

    I don’t think he is suggesting that the graphic processing power of the PS4 will be less than the PS3, just less novel.

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