Xbox One vs. PS4: The Ultimate Buyer’s Guide

Entertainment Apps

Both Sony and Microsoft seem to want to steer their consoles toward being everything machines and not just game machines. The first step on that path, it seems, is to put TV, movies and all other forms of entertainment at your hands through their consoles. Expect to see even more content in the next generation than was available on Playstation 3 and Xbox 360.

Television and Film

PlayStation 4 will support apps for Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Instant, Redbox Instant, YouTube, Crackle, Vudu, Epix, Crunchyroll, and more. Sport-specific content can be attained through MLB.TV and NHL GameCenter. A PlayStation Plus subscription is not required for these apps.

Xbox One will support apps for Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, HBO GO, Redbox Instant, Vevo, Crackle, The CW, and more. For sports, you get ESPN and NFL content along, with MLB.TV and NHL GameCenter, though that will require an Xbox Live Gold subscription. The console also supports live TV passthrough via HDMI, allowing users to take advantage of instant switching, voice control and app-snapping when watching TV.

[Update: Microsoft, speaking at PAX Prime 2013, confirmed that HDMI pass through and TV Guide cable features will not require a XBox Live Gold subscription.]

Second Screen and Mobile Compatibility

Both consoles will have second-screen companion apps for mobile devices. Microsoft’s SmartGlass initiative will take care of mobile apps for the Xbox One, while the forthcoming PlayStation App will handle the PlayStation 4. We’ve seen examples of how SmartGlass will work, but not much is known about the PlayStation App at this point. The Playstation 4 does, however, support Remote Play with the PlayStation Vita, allowing users to play Playstation 4 games by streaming them to the handheld, and it also supports with cross-platform party chat. Xbox One will sport Microsoft’s Skype service, allowing for video and voice chat using the console’s bundled Kinect 2.0 sensor.

Cloud Utilization

While “the cloud” colloquially refers to things on the Internet, the term does have specific implications towards infrastructure. Here’s how Sony and Microsoft plan to take advantage of their virtual scaling solutions.

Sony and Gaikai

Back in July 2012, Sony acquired Gaikai, a company that was trying to make its way in the cloud-based game-streaming space. Since then, Sony has integrated Gaikai’s technology into the PlayStation 4, so now you can stream and play games without having to download them, which is optimal for demos. This could also enable some form of backwards compatibility, as noted (but not confirmed) by Sony President of Worldwide Studios Shuhei Yoshida.

Microsoft and Cloud Computing

For Microsoft, the plan was originally to offload some games’ latency-insensitive calculations onto the cloud, for features such as for fog and lighting. This would free up the console’s internal hardware to handle more immediate tasks, such as animations and collisions, generally making games perform better and capable of pushing the Xbox One technology further. Though Microsoft changed its 24-hour online connectivity requirement for the Xbox One and no longer requires it to connect to the Internet, its cloud plans are still in effect, but now more as a possibility for games, instead of a guaranteed option for developers. With 300,000 servers, Microsoft was aiming for the combined power of four offline Xbox Ones on a single online Xbox One.

Sony has stated similar goals for the PlayStation 4, though in more discrete terms. On the idea of farming out hardware power to the cloud, Lead Architect Mark Cerny said, “Matchmaking is done in the cloud and it works very well. If we think about things that don’t work well, trying to boost the quality of the graphics, that won’t work well in the cloud.”

Cloud Saving

For the Xbox One, player profiles will automatically be saved to the cloud, which will include game saves and media content with unlimited storage capacity. This, in particular, enables auto-resume for pausing and picking up a game on another console.

The same goes for the PlayStation 4, except it’s still unknown if cloud storage will be unlimited or if it can be used as a save destination or just a backup.

Used Games, Shared Games, and Old Games

It’s weird to think that backwards compatibility wasn’t even a thing until the past few console cycles, and that controversy surrounded used and shared games only insomuch that most garage sales don’t usually have permits. Now both have been thrust directly into the limelight.

Used and Sharing Games

In a matter of 22 seconds, Yoshida and Adam Boyes, Sony’s head of publisher and developer Relations, show how the PlayStation 4 handles used and shared games. If it’s a physical copy, you just hand the disc over to someone else and you’re done. The video of the process the pair created lampooned Microsoft’s original Xbox One policy, which required even physical copies of games to be wholly installed on the console, and which tied every game to a particular player profile, limiting the ability to share and resell games.

Microsoft has since changed that policy, and physical copies of games on the Xbox One can also be shared and sold just as they can on Xbox 360. The disc, though, is required to be in the system even if it’s wholly installed to the drive. Meanwhile, expect a heavier focus on downloadable titles for both systems.

Backwards Compatibility

The PlayStation 4 will not support PlayStation 3 games, but with the integration of the cloud-based video game streaming service Gaikai, it is a possibility that we’ll get emulated versions of our old games streamed to us.

The Xbox One, on the other hand, will not be backwards compatible at all. It also will not natively support older generation software from the Xbox and Xbox 360, but it also lacks any cloud-based solution.

Video Capture and Streaming

If the rising attendance at VidCon and the fact that the most subscribed channel on YouTube is gaming-related didn’t tip you off, video streaming is a big deal. It’s such a big deal, in fact, that both consoles have integrated it into their system architectures.

Capturing on the PlayStation 4

With the press of the dedicated Share button, you can snap a screenshot or put together a video clip from the last 15 minutes of your current play session. The clip can the be uploaded straight to PSN profiles or social media sites such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. Sony has not revealed details about resolution or frame rate for captured videos. PS Plus is not required.

Streaming on the PlayStation 4

At Gamescom 2013, Sony also announced it had added Twitch to its streaming partners (previously, Ustream was its only partner). Through the same Share button, you can stream your play session live and commentate over it with your headset. Viewers can tune in on through web browsers, consoles, or whatever other devices support Twitch and Ustream. Streaming also allows other players to remotely take over a play session, meaning you can allow a friend to help you through a difficult portion of a game, for example. None of Sony’s video-streaming (or capture) features require a PlayStation Plus subscription.

Capturing on the Xbox One

The Xbox One will allow players to use its Upload Studio app to peruse and edit gameplay clips from the last five minutes of a current play session, recorded at 720p at 30 frames per second. With the Kinect, you’ll be able to record voiceover for your videos and initiate the recording using voice commands. You can pick a skin to use as a “thematic wrapping” for videos, and institute other post-production effects, but it’s unclear if video will upload to anywhere other than Microsoft’s servers.

Streaming on the Xbox One

Also with a voice command, you can stream live gameplay on Twitch. The interface uses the side of the screen to shows things like number of viewers and the channel chat. You can also use the Kinect to stream audio commentary over gameplay. Recording and streaming will both require an Xbox Live Gold membership.

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17 Comments on Xbox One vs. PS4: The Ultimate Buyer’s Guide

JeffDaniel

On August 29, 2013 at 5:14 pm

Great work guys. This is by far the best side by side review I’ve seen!

Can’t wait to see you guys online!

Jeff

Jordan

On August 30, 2013 at 6:13 am

Battlefield 4 is by DICE, not crytek…

KeithH

On August 30, 2013 at 8:40 am

First, there are 2 and a half months before the releases (All of September and October). Second, as has been shown by the Hot Chips conference, the XB1 also has a unified memory controller. Sony has only stated that their games are “by the end of the year” and not “on launch day”, like Microsoft has.

In fact, I couldn’t find any source that specified which of any of the 33 “launch window” games for Sony would be on day 1 (MS has their list of 23).

Also, can someone please tell me where the graphics specs for the XB1 come from. The only place that I have been able to drill down a source for, were from an “unamed source” over at Anadtech. If you have another source for this info, can you please state it?

Compiling lists of info from other sites, that themselves based their info on other sites does not make this fact. While most of your info is probably correct, I would love to see some actual journalism.

Phil Hornshaw

On August 30, 2013 at 11:32 am

@KeithH

Whoops, you’re right about the months, that was my bad in editing.

Huntsman06

On August 30, 2013 at 2:15 pm

It is true that ALL of the stated features under “Television and Film” will require an Xbox Live Gold membership? I would expect them to continue requiring it for apps like Hulu and Netflix, but I won’t be able to say “Xbox, go to channel ” without paying a premium?

Mike

On August 30, 2013 at 2:36 pm

Wow. Nice wrap up. I didn’t even know you were required to have xbox live gold to use services like Netflix what a crock of crap. Another anti consumer policy on Microsofts part. Alps they did is place a restriction on being able to use a service you already pay for on their hardware. If I have Internet and Netflix I should beable to wwatch it without gold. No other device like phones or computers have these restrictions. Screw Microsoft. I hope they bury themselves

Yiur mom

On August 30, 2013 at 5:42 pm

Battlefield 4 is made by DICE not Crytek…

iPerrydon

On August 30, 2013 at 6:45 pm

what does this guy know? cod:ghosts is not a release title on either console. infinity ward themselvs at E3 said that next-gen release will be q2 of 2014!

iPerrydon

On August 30, 2013 at 6:46 pm

what does this guy know? cod:ghosts is not a release title on either console. infinity ward themselvs at E3 said that next-gen release will be q2 of 2014!

Phil Hornshaw

On August 31, 2013 at 10:22 am

@Huntsman06

In fact, there’s some confusion about that, and I’m about to make an update here.

At PAX Prime just yesterday, Microsoft’s Albert Pinello told Ross Lincoln that HDMI passthrough AND “TV guide stuff” would be available to players WITHOUT an Xbox Live subscription.

That’s kind of at odds with what we thought we understood about Xbox One. On its official website, Microsoft talks about GuideOne, software that allows you to have a customized view of your TV programming, use voice commands, and so on, and says that that feature will be available to Xbox Live Gold subscribers.

So our takeaway from that brief interview with Pinello, which we’re hoping to get clarified with Microsoft, is that at least SOME of TV features will be available right out of the box. There’s still some confusion there, though.

The full story out of PAX Prime is right here: http://www.gamefront.com/microsoft-xbox-live-gold-not-needed-for-xbox-one-tv-features/

Mo

On August 31, 2013 at 11:35 am

PS4 needs Ratchet and Clank and Jak and Dexter

D22

On September 1, 2013 at 7:18 pm

Nice review. I would just say you need to include xbox’s 32mb of ESRAM as an addition to the 8gb basic ram.

Cheers

Derrick

On September 2, 2013 at 9:45 pm

No mention of chargeable controllers? PS4 is self contained battery that can be charged by plugging it in, XBox One you would need to buy a kit for similar function.

@iPerrydon Not sure what news you are following, but Ghosts will be a launch title for next-gen consoles. It’s coming out 11/5 for current-gen, too.

Viralwhite

On September 4, 2013 at 4:02 pm

There needs to be a small correction to this article. The article stated the following:

“…You can still pre-order online at Walmart, but that retailer only guarantee a delivery date of “on or just after 12/31/2013,” which doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence…”

This is NOT accurate. As of today (9/4/13 – 1900 hrs) the website clearly says:

“Reserve today in store!
Step 1: Put only 10% down*
Step 2: Pay over time
Step 3: Available for pick up on 11/15/2013 ”

Went by my local store today in Richmond, VA. They have a display that has cards inside of them (limited) and you take it to the counter and check out.

James Boye

On September 5, 2013 at 2:39 am

You have completely forgot to mention and factor in the extra cost for the battery pack you need to by for the X1 controller.

effect

On November 19, 2013 at 7:28 am

why are people shocked that you need Gold to run apps like netflix on xbox one? If you have a 360 you would know you have to do the same thing! Just remember people xbox is on their own os system so your fee for xbox gold includes a protected network unlike PS3 & 4! I have many of friends in Chicago and California where their systems have been attacked! A lot of people don’t even realize that their ps3′s are already infected! Don’t believe me? Try installing a anti virus on your ps3 and do a scan or find a free one online, you’ll be amazed on what’s in your system! (Another little detail Sony NEVER tells you about!) BTW the ps4 cam is equal to a test model of the original kinect, it looks like crap and doesn’t compare to the original kinect, it’s only worth the $59.99

blobthebob

On November 24, 2013 at 2:17 pm

effect, I don’t where you got your information, but the playstation 4 camera is much better than the original kinect. the kinect 1.0 only had one lense and as well 1 or 2 microphones built in, as for the PS4 camera there is twice the number and they are used to narrow in the exact location of your person which the kinect 1.0 did not have as for capabilities. Let’s be real when comparing them