Good 'Ol Capitalistic Competition - Tren Frost Blog - www.GameInformer.com
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Good 'Ol Capitalistic Competition

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I remember the day vividly. I had taken the day off so I wouldn’t miss a thing. I woke up earlier than usual so I could travel to the best vantage point for what was about to come. It was June 10, 2013; the first day of E3. I watched every moment from my brother’s 55″ 120hz TV in glorious, uncompressed HD, a computer in front of me to monitor a live blog (while also live blogging myself for BTDT) and my iPhone in my hand with the latest twitter feeds from press on the scene. I was ready to see what developers had been keeping under wraps for the past several years. I was ready to see the next generation of gaming.

Xbox One

Xbox One – via forbes.com

Microsoft kicked off the day with an amazing conference, despite a few technical hiccups, and showcased so many games that I had trouble tracking what was going on. Publisher EA easily took away my award for best conference of the show, showing off the beautiful Garden Warfare shooter, Battlefield 4 multiplayer, Titanfall multiplayer, and announcing a new Mirror’s Edge game and a new Star Wars Battlefront game by DICE (which literally brought a tear to my eye).  Ubisoft went third in a somewhat lackluster conference if only because we saw many amazing projects that we had already seen before. Compared to all the newness of Microsoft’s and EA’s conferences, Ubisoft’s conference lacked much of the same punch, at least it did until Sony took the stage.

Playstation 4

Playstation 4 – via uncrate.com

After all the amazing worlds I had been introduced to throughout the day, the last conference lead by Sony was downright boring. Sony’s big marquee PS4 titles had already been debuted months earlier, making their appearance appreciated, but not surprising. Sony also had to take time out of their show to talk about TV/video streaming offerings and teased projects from Sony’s movie production studios; announcements that have little place at E3 any other year, let alone the year of new consoles. Add in the large amount of time Sony spent on well-known Indie developers (some whose showcased projects had been out for over a year) and you end up with a very unexciting conference. The conspiracy theorist in me would say that Sony made their conference boring on purpose just to give their last few minutes more impact.

After months of silence Sony (and controversy about Microsoft’s new policies) finally threw a sucker-punch at Microsoft: no restrictions on used games. Then a hay-maker followed: no internet check-in required for the console to work. Sony finished with an uppercut to Microsoft’s jaw: a launch price of $399 ($100 less than the Xbox One’s $499 launch price). I have been following the tech industry for quite some time now, so seeing one company compare their products against another is nothing new. However, I have not seen a company so specifically target its competition’s weaknesses in such a brutal, open fashion. Especially when almost every rumor and insider comment about Sony’s policies indicated that they would be following in a similar (if not exact) manner to Microsoft’s. As surprised as I was about what Sony was trying to pull off, I can’t imagine how the suits at Microsoft felt.

Sick burnThis is how Playstation 4 shares games… – via technobuffalo.com

In the two months since, both Sony and Microsoft have been going back and forth with reversals and one-ups. Microsoft has dropped nearly all of the major complaints of the Xbox One save for the Kinect in every box and the $499 price tag. When Microsoft announced a 1000 person limit to the new friends list, Sony came out and said the PS4 limit was 2000. Microsoft announced that their video sharing feature would be locked behind a Gold membership, Sony came out and said that theirs required no such subscription. Back and forth, back and forth.

I’ll be honest, I’m pretty disappointed that Microsoft has had to back track on so many of their policies because of the angry Internet. While I had some reservations about their radical change, I do believe that their plans were the biggest step towards an actual next-generation of games and entertainment than what Sony is offering. However, I’m pretty excited about this sudden need for Microsoft to compete with Sony. With Nintendo all but refusing to compete in a post-iPhone world, Sony is the only company that has the capability to go head-to-head with Microsoft in the gaming space. Again, I think Microsoft were more concerned with competing against Apple and Google than Sony, but I am pretty surprised at how well Sony managed to drag down Microsoft to compete on their level. It’s a rare example today of capitalism at work. In a world of mega-corporations and government-backed duopolies, consumers don’t often get to see one of the things that is supposed to make our country great: competition. These past couple months have truly been exciting for the gaming space because of it.

Next-Gen Gaming: TitanfallTitanfall – via polygon.com

I am sad that we will have to wait a few more years before we have truly next-generation gaming experience, but gamers on both sides of the console space (and you PC folks as well) need to realize that this competition between Sony and Microsoft is only something that will give us better experiences. Whether you’re a Sony-drone, an Xbot, or a PC elitist, this is an exciting time for all. Don’t get mad, don’t get depressed. Be happy! It’s been almost a decade since we’ve had an environment like this, so enjoy the change!

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