Opinion: What Kind Of Consoles Are We Getting At Launch?

by Matthew Kato on Oct 25, 2013 at 09:28 AM

Many gamers are excited by what the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One are capable of. It's sad then that at launch they won't be getting the systems they think they are.

We've gotten used to games being updated after release to fix problems or even enable features, but the fact that Microsoft and Sony's upcoming systems are less than what they can be out of the box on launch day feels like a different order of magnitude.

Today's news from Sony that several key features of the PS4 will only be available via a 300MB update is alarming in its scope. The system won't even be able to function as a blu-ray or DVD player out of the box without said update. Are you kidding?!

Not only does this reinforce that Microsoft was correct to initially require an online connection for the Xbox One, but it shows that Sony is daring fate to bite it and the console in the ass come launch day. I guarantee you the deployment and installation of the patch will go wrong for some users, and I fully expect plenty of pissed-off people on launch day. Remember the Wii U's launch update debacle? Sure that patch was a lot larger, but you are naive if you think it's all going to go smoothly.

Apart from wrestling with a day-one update, there are still features for both systems that won't be at launch. Neither system will play nice with your third-party headset at launch, PS4's Gaikai streaming won't be there, you won't be able to use your real name as an ID on Xbox One, not all the 360 features will immediately make it over to Xbox One (according to an IGN conversation with a Microsoft executive), and the list goes on. Microsoft has also opened the door for speculation that Xbox One users will be able to party chat with more than eight people – eventually.

While it's a good thing that both consoles have the ability to evolve after they are released – something that I'm excited for – it puts a damper on the launch day. Launch days used to be exciting as gamers got their hands on the latest and greatest of home console hardware, but these days it's feeling more like a very expensive rain check.