Report cards: how are the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 doing?

We look at both systems since their respective launches several months ago.

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When the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One both launched in November last year, they faced both their fair share of fans and critics, with some folks not getting enough of the new technology going into them, while others insisting that there needed to be more games in order for them to take off. You know, the typical praise and criticism you're likely to see with any new game system.

However, now that the dust has settled and both systems have fallen into a comfortable groove (with various titles on the way leading into the holiday season), it's time to look back and see how both companies have fared since that time. A lot of changes have been made, particularly in Microsoft's camp, and it's time to see if they're continuing to make the grade, or if there are still things that need to be worked on.

So let's begin with the report cards!

Xbox One

Positives

First off, Microsoft has made significant progress with the system since it's been announced. It's done away with the strict DRM model in favor of accepting used games (like Sony announced at E3 last year) and has even managed to woo the indie game scene, something that a lot of gamers though it would never do.

In terms of game releases, Microsoft has also managed to score some rather big fish in its pond. Leading the charge is Titanfall, a terrific multiplayer shooter that continues to make big strides today, thanks to the release of the new Frontier's Edge pack. Microsoft also earns points for including the game prominently in its advertising, even if Aaron Paul does accidentally turn on Xbox One systems that are connected to a Kinect. (Hey, small setback.)

Finally, perhaps the most crucial move on the company's part is allowing the Kinect to be optional. A lot of people weren't thrilled about having to pay an extra $100 to have a Kinect sitting on their shelves, particularly for two reasons: they're not using it, and some even consider it a surveillance device, even through Microsoft has argued otherwise. With the $400 bundle not including the device, it allows players to have a little more freedom (and relaxation) with their purchase, even if that means having to manually log in. It goes a long way when it comes to competing with the PlayStation 4.

Negatives

As great as it is to see Microsoft make the Kinect optional, it forgot how to make it essential for some players. As a result, games like Kinect Sports Rivals have failed to find a truly stable audience, and Harmonix will see an uphill struggle when it launches Dance Central Spotlight and Fantasia: Music Evolved later in the year. Microsoft should do more for developers who are looking to continue making motion-supported games.

Also, the interface could use a little more work. While it's easier to find games and movies on the service, having to manually log in (without the Kinect) is tiring, and sometimes the Bing search tool isn't nearly as helpful as it could be.

Perhaps the biggest problem is that we haven't seen too much first-party push for the system since its release. Sure, we've gotten some good games like Forza Motorsport 5 and Ryse: Son of Rome, but more effort to keep consistent releases coming would've been nice. Thankfully, Microsoft will rectify this issue sooner rather than later, as big releases like Forza Horizon 2 and Halo: The Master Chief Collection will certainly keep us busy.

Overall

Microsoft has come a long way to earning the favor of gamers, even if some things still need to be settled to make the Xbox One the true system to beat. Still, this next year will be interesting for the company, as well as those tagging along for the ride. Let's see what happens next.

RATING: B

PlayStation 4

Positives

Sony has proven that it's caring about the gamers with its newest console, and last year's E3 was a big push in that direction, with a lower price point, no DRM from the get-go, and the promise of an expansive game library with the PlayStation Now service. It's also managed to stay consistent with online connectivity through the PlayStation Network, even if a few bugs still need to be worked out here and there. Hey, it beats trying to connect with the Nintendo Network, at least.

Comfort and convenience have been two of the system's high points. The DualShock 4 has proven to be the company's best controller in years, while the PlayStation Store is easy to access when it comes to buying games, movies and such. The interface isn't half bad either, as you can scroll through to your favorite games and services with ease.

Sony also has the better system when it comes to setting up video clips and live streams, thanks to the introduction of the SHARE Factory and its numerous features. More people are streaming now than ever before, even if all the channels aren't exactly noteworthy with content. No matter, as there's something for everyone.

Finally, the game supply has been great, with such titles as The Last of Us Remastered and Infamous: Second Son gathering strong first-party support, and plenty of third parties like Ubisoft offering exclusive content for the system. There are plenty of positives here.

Negatives

There was a time that Sony was suffering setbacks with availability of the system, a problem that has since been remedied thanks to a slower summer season. However, the team will probably have to work overtime this holiday season to prevent such a shortage from being a repeat issue. Chances are there will be a lot of work that needs to go into that.

Sony also needs to do more to give its holiday line-up a push. There hasn't been much say about what to expect from either DriveClub or LittleBigPlanet 3, and these are coming from high-quality developers. Worse yet, the word continues to be mum on The Order: 1866, despite a somewhat large push at E3. Sony should also put indie games in its promotion somewhere, especially considering such great games as 1001 Spikes and Rogue Legacy are in its line-up. Where's Kevin Butler when you need him?

PlayStation Now has recently launched in beta, but it's severely laden with problems. The game rental prices in themselves are way too high for their own good, as they're even charging more than the games initially sold for on the PS3/PS Vita. Worse yet, there's no sign of PS1/PS2 releases as first promised. Sony just needs to get a working program for this, before people lose interest in the service altogether.

Overall

Sony has lived up to its name of being a powerhouse in the game industry, as the PlayStation 4 is quite an impressive piece of tech, with a number of great retail and downloadable games to choose from. There's a lot that's on the horizon as well. However, now the marketing team really needs to step up and get people excited for what's ahead, and PlayStation Now needs to shuffle around to being useful, rather than overpriced and underhyped. Sony needs to make the right moves to become king of the industry, before Microsoft can steal its thunder.

GRADE: B+

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From The Chatty
  • reply
    August 1, 2014 1:00 PM

    Robert Workman posted a new article, Report cards: how are the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 doing?.

    We look at both systems since their respective launches several months ago.

    • reply
      August 1, 2014 1:03 PM

      There are several things the PS3/360 did that the PS4 software does not, that are relevant for me. I'm expecting Sony to deliver some of those things pretty soon, the console has been on the market for a good while now. I don't have the Xbone, but from my POV it looks like MS has been much more active in making their system better software-wise.

      • reply
        August 1, 2014 6:42 PM

        Yea, Microsoft has put out almost monthly updates to the system.

    • reply
      August 1, 2014 1:06 PM

      Holy compression artifacts, Batman!

      • reply
        August 1, 2014 2:19 PM

        Yeah I noticed this the first day, it's getting kinda ridiculous.

      • reply
        August 1, 2014 2:49 PM

        that is pretty embarrassing for a site trying to become credible. I applaud the effort in content but jesus...

        • reply
          August 1, 2014 7:15 PM

          They need to dump youtube and get with .webm

          • reply
            August 1, 2014 11:46 PM

            Youtube uses webm

            • reply
              August 1, 2014 11:56 PM

              Well aint that some shit, but looks like ya need to force youtube to use the html5 player. Also I'm an idiot I thought compression artifacts in the video, not the pictures.

    • reply
      August 1, 2014 2:55 PM

      "Hey, it beats trying to connect with the Nintendo Network, at least."

      I've had a WiiU since it launched and I've never had connectivity issues. Am I just lucky then and this is actually a thing?

      • reply
        August 1, 2014 11:47 PM

        first i heard of it

        maybe he keeps trying to connect when a huge game releases or during maintainences.

      • reply
        August 2, 2014 1:10 AM

        kinda like trying to play on live with friends when the destiny beta just opened up the moon levels for everyone

    • reply
      August 1, 2014 6:40 PM

      I think the consoles have been a pretty sad state of affairs. The originating videos highlighting and showcasing how amazing the next generation would be has fallen completely flat. Once again computer gaming is miles ahead and not slowing down. Divinity Original Sin which is a isometric RPG looks better than virtually most of the games on the newer consoles. When you start comparing Assassin's Creed 4, Battlefield 4, and some of the other powerhouse graphical games both of the systems don't come close.

      I'm excited for all the particles and such that they have promised us. All the millions of bouncing balls completely destroying our fabric of reality in physics based games ... but I have yet to see them. When I do see them I know that the computer that I spent $1000 back in November will have better looking games. I don't think of "great gaming" when I hear the term next generation. I think of graphics. I think of what the original lords of video gaming graphics (id software, epic, crytek, etc. etc.) have given us and how we have evolved. I remember the day I first saw Unreal and saw the dynamic moving shadows and light sources. I saw real colored lighting (not the quake 2 trickery) and was so immersed into this alien world. I have spent well over a decade of my life playing first person shooters and they have paved the way for amazing graphics - bar none. The next generation of the consoles will be impressive in it's own way but it will always be a shadow of PC gaming.

      I really want an XBOX One for Killer Instinct. That is the only game of this "next generation" that remotely even interests me.

      Welp, back to playing Divinity Original Sin (play this game!)

    • reply
      August 2, 2014 12:49 PM

      As a PS4 and not an XBox One owner,I'll only comment on the Sony side of things.

      First,as for the article,I find it that the negatives on PS4 aren't really negatives compared to XBO's as they are projections and not actual issues with the console right now.

      Obviously,like everyone else,I'm disappointed with the lack of games right now,but this happens every every console cycle,so I expect some major titles in 2015 and especially 2016.

      I remember back at E3 last year when they said that one of the features of the PS4 was the ability to had off your game to a friend for them to play for a short time,even if they didn't own the game you were playing.Well,that never came to pass,and quite honestly,I don't ever see that happening.

      I'm also sick of all of these indie games every month.I just find it a waste that a console that's supposedly built for power is showcasing games that are built for the NES.

      I also find it incredibly baffling that we still have no idea when Planetside 2 will be released.Last word that we got was that they were working on the vehicles,and that the game would be coming out this year.Well,they said that it was coming last year,and they failed there,and I really don't expect them to be able to release it this year either.If they don't release this year,that game is dead in the water with Destiny coming next month,which will last me until The Division,Batman,Farcry 4,Dying LIght,,and I hate to say it,but I'm looking forward to COD Advanced Warfare.After all of those games,there just isn't any room for me to even care about Planetside 2.

      • reply
        August 5, 2014 1:53 AM

        ya, whatever happened to being able to jump into your friends game and play him through a boss n such? this actually crossed my head the other day. Not a big deal imo... just seems like a really far out thing to announce, and then it just ends up forgotten.

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