The Eighth Great Console War; Wii U, Xbox One or PlayStation 4?

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This year’s video games conference E3 heralded the beginnings of the return of the console wars; this time the eighth generation. Three huge companies duke it out to try and win over hundreds of thousands of potential customers and persuade them away from their rivals. For seven years now we have been comfortable with the Nintendo Wii, the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3. But no longer. With the Wii U already on shelves, the Xbox One announced for the 2013 holiday period and the PS4 announced for a similar time, the gauntlet has been thrown down and the battle begins.

Nintendo’s Wii U

The first console that should be noted is probably the first released. Nintendo’s Wii U is an upgrade from the Wii in almost every way; it’s more powerful, has less motion controls and a sweet looking controller (with a screen in it). It’s even backwards compatible so now you have literally no reason to own a Wii! The online is free if somewhat unsatisfactory but Nintendo somewhat make up for this by providing many of their old gems (such as old Metroid, Zelda and Mario games) to download and play (for a fee). One pressing issue with Nintendo, as ever, is their lack of third party support. With a new Mario game and a new Super Smash Bros. game announced at E3, it’s clear that Nintendo are looking to carry their console on the back of their first party games, a tactic that has served them well enough in the past.

Microsoft’s Xbox One

Microsoft chose to announce their new console a few weeks before E3 and worried the entire gaming community by failing to mention games in the slightest and by being worryingly vague about their Digital Rights Management policies and other issues. At E3 the truth was brought to light, to the horror of all involved. What was revealed was that the Xbox One (or the Xbone, as it was lovingly called mere minutes after its announcement) would be unable to play games, or do anything, unless it was connected to the internet once every 24 hours. Even worse, the Xbone’s built in Kinect can never be turned off. Apparently the microphone will remain on even if the console is off, listening to everything said within its range, supposedly to listen for voice commands. This is especially disconcerting when combined with the recent news of the U.S. government’s data-mining. On top of all this, if you want to buy a used game it must be done at ‘participating retailers’, suggesting that Microsoft will be awarding a monopoly to a retailer. Also, if you want to lend a game to a friend they had better have been on your Xbox Live friend’s list for 30 days. If they haven’t? Well tough. With this series of confusingly restricting and intrusive policy announcements, Microsoft seems to have alienated a large portion of their potential market. After all, would you want to buy one?

Sony’s PlayStation 4

The final console to be announced was the PlayStation 4. Being fully unveiled for the first time at E3, the console looked sleek and looked to have improved on many aspects of its predecessor. With a newly designed controller and a new angled body the console look good, but it was Sony’s policies on DRM and used games that would draw huge cheers and applause from the E3 audience. The PS4 does not have to be connected to the internet at any point to play games. There are also no restrictions on used games, a policy Sony also announced in this hilariously smug advert. However, the PS4 does have slightly less exclusive games than the Xbox One and they did announce that online multiplayer would now require a subscription to PlayStationPlus, although this service does have more benefits and is cheaper than Xbox Live. On top of all this, it should be mentioned that the PlayStation 4 is going to be Β£80 cheaper than the Xbox One (Β£349 to Β£429). It comes as no surprise really that, with this series of announcements, many claimed Sony to have ‘won’ E3.

The Verdict

Thus begins the Eighth Great Console War. Seriously though, when it comes to deciding the console for you they should all be considered. I recommend you look at the exclusives for each console and see which ones interest you the most and let this decide your purchase. In the interests of staying impartial, I’ll say that all the consoles have their pros and cons. All this being said, my own personal opinion is that Microsoft is dead in the water and the Xbox is doomed. I for one welcome our new Sony overlords.

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I was born in Leeds in 1993 and moved to Southampton to study History at the University of Southampton in 2011. I've always enjoyed writing and critiquing but always seem to draw a blank when filling in biographical information.

6 Comments

  1. avatar

    “It’s even backwards compatible so now you have literally no reason to own a Wii!”
    Unless you want to play Game Cube games, then you will need either a Game Cube or a Wii.

    There are privacy settings being put in place with the Xbox One’s Kinect.
    http://kotaku.com/xbox-ones-kinect-can-turn-off-microsoft-says-noting-510100564

    Also, it is pretty important to note that Sony’s FIRST party games won’t have any restrictions. 3rd parties will have choice over whether or not they want to implement some sort of protection (I’d say it’ll most likely be the network passes that’ve been about lately).

    • avatar

      I had assumed that anyone wishing to play Gamecube games at this stage would either own a Wii or a Gamecube. Besides, the GC classics will probably become available in the Virtual Store relatively soon.

      So if you check the privacy settings for the Xbonne, it’s true you can turn the Kinect off. But anytime the Kinect is on and being used which includes ‘navigating the dashboard’ it is collecting information of you AND your environment. (http://www.xbox.com/en-US/kinect/privacyandonlinesafety) This data is held for a full three months before deletion and is undoubtedly sold to third parties to ‘improve your experience’. On top of all this, Microsoft filed a patent for the Kinect to count the number of people in a room to see if it exceeded a certain number set by the content producer. If the number of people in the room exceeded the predetermined number, the user would have to purchase another license. (http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/news/xbox-one-features-create-privacy-concerns-20130613) Scary no?

      As for the 3rd party stuff, the fact that Sony’s first party games don’t have restrictions to me shows a faith and trust in their customers that Microsoft seem to be lacking. It wouldn’t surprise me if publishers like EA and Ubisoft share Microsoft’s unfortunate views, but this just accumulates into another reason to buy a PS4 over and Xbone.

      • avatar

        True, and it’s always possible they’ll remake some of their favourites like they’re doing with Wind Waker HD.

        Yeah, I think they’re drafting up privacy settings and agreements for the consumer in terms of what happens with the data (the kinect is so pivotal to their ‘experience’ they really don’t want it off), so hopefully anyone who doesn’t want their data sold won’t. I still wouldn’t entirely trust them what with the NSA scandal.
        On the one hand, this sort of data being in the hand of companies is scary; on the other, it’s basically the way forward, so we’ll need to accept companies are gaining more and more access to our lives and somehow put rules in place so they can’t misuse it.

        EA said that they have no plans to use restrictions, but I say they’re full of it. They were one of the first to do it on consoles. It doesn’t bother me so much as I don’t often buy used games nor trade in finished games.

        Either way I’ve always been more of a Sony & Nintendo fan, so I’m hoping the Xbox One does fail just so I don’t have to buy another console down the line to play with friends.

        • avatar

          Yeah, I wouldn’t trust anything EA said for a minute. They sure do love their DRM and EA Origin is one of the worst things I have ever seen hahahahaha

          I’m hoping the Xbone flops as well, teach Microsoft a lesson about alienating customers. Although I don’t want either Nintendo or Sony gaining any kind of monopoly either, it’s hard to know what to feel these days…

  2. avatar

    Few spoilers – WiiU most certainly WAS the first to release, and the PS4 was in fact officially announced a month or two before the Xbone, ;).
    PS+ isn’t required to play the likes of Planetside 2 online, as it’s down to the the publisher πŸ˜‰
    Also it’s faster (on paper, and more than likely in practice) than Xbone(who the hell needs 3 operating systems?), and let’s not forget the undeniable quality of Sony’s established exclusives over Microsofts πŸ˜‰
    Solid article!

    • avatar
      Edd Cockshutt on

      Ahahaha thank you for a start πŸ˜€
      I knew the PS4 was announced before the Xbone but since we didn’t even know what the console looked like until E3 I didn’t count it.
      And yeah, details on how the PS+ thing is going to work are still a bit sketchy as this stage, I couldn’t find anything solid. The PS4 also has better hardware than the Xbone on a couple of fronts and the Xbone controllers still require two AA batteries instead of charging from the console. Nice one Microsoft.

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