Thoughts on the future of Xbox One, PS4, Wii U after E3

Bill Loguidice's picture

Sony PS4Sony PS4Before the year is out, we'll have the choice of the latest console systems from the three big manufacturers, with three very different value propositions. I'll briefly break each of the three down, one-by-one, then I'd like to continue the discussion in the comments.

First up, there's the Wii U, relying mostly on the same type of technology found in the current generation's Xbox 360 and PS3 consoles, with its primary hook being its tablet controller that allows for touchscreen interactions and off-TV play, priced between $300 - $350. There's a good chance, despite Nintendo's insistence that they won't or can't, that this will drop in price just before the launch of Microsoft's and Sony's new consoles. I base this on the jockeying Nintendo already seems to be doing, for instance with eliminating the $300 BASIC version of their system in favor of the DELUXE (and no doubt different future bundles). The negatives for the Wii U are that, for various reasons, third party support has already dried up, and there's no evidence that their tablet controller hook has resonated (or will) with the public. There's always a chance for things to change, but right now, I don't see how Nintendo recovers a dominant console position, particularly since there's really nothing that reeks of "next gen" in their forthcoming software line-up. Certainly with their first party software they'll continue to appeal to the Nintendo faithful, and that should be enough to help the platform stick it out for the next few years. Beyond that, it's impossible to speculate, particularly since we don't know how Microsoft and Sony will ultimately fare (it could just be the new norm, in light of smartphone, tablet, and PC competition to have a tough time with traditional consoles and gaming handhelds).

Next up is the Xbox One. Partially due to Microsoft's bungling of the message, partially due to overreaction, and partially due to just-the-right-amount of reaction, the Xbox One has proven controversial. Depending on who you talk to, the controversy stems from the Xbox One's always-on feature that allows it to interact with your cable/satellite subscription and do its other activities on-demand, the new Kinect's requirement and that too always being ready for your commands, and Microsoft's DRM policies, which requires the console to check in every 24 hours. The counter-argument is that DRM aside, the connected, always on nature of the Xbox One offers some intriguing possibilities for its functionality. It's also debatable how "angry" anyone should be about the DRM, since it's simply carrying over the same model we use on our smartphones and tablets, and on the PC with services like Steam, but the fact is, people genuinely are angry, no way around it. Whether that anger translates over to the average consumer, who could very well eat up the enhanced television and Kinect interaction, remains to be seen. Certainly Microsoft made a good showing of its next gen gaming line-up, which also made me rather more disappointed in the Wii U given that perspective. I just haven't got the same sense of next level gameplay from Nintendo's platform as of yet, even though it's been on the market for quite a while now. I'm not sure if we ever will. Finally, there's the price, $499, which is rather higher than both the Wii U and PS4, but is not entirely unjustified considered the bundling of the next gen Kinect - which is integral to the experience - and its pass-through features. We'll see if Microsoft's gamble pays off, but right now, there does seem to be a lot of anger out there, which was mitigated somewhat by the announcement of the games.

Finally, there's the PS4, who looks like the big public opinion winner to this point. It won't interact with your TV, and there's no bundled Kinect-like camera (and it's debatable whether the optional next gen camera will be able to offer anything remotely approaching a Kinect-like experience). It also won't place any restrictions or limitations on the sale of used games, like on the Xbox One, which appears to be a big plus according to the most vocal gamers out there. In theory, it should have just a bit more core power than the Xbox One, though both platforms will be enhanced by leveraging Cloud processing, and all things considered, it will likely be a wash in that area. Like the Xbox One, the PS4 is clearly showing next gen experiences, which is again, a knock against Nintendo's core technology in the Wii U. Also like the Xbox One and unlike the Wii U, it's clear that third party support won't be an issue. The kicker - and the factor that I think most endeared the PS4 to gamers to this point - is the fact that it's coming in at $100 less than the Xbox One. While I think the difference in price is justified considering what's in the respective retail packages, $100 cheaper is still $100 cheaper, particularly if those extra Xbox One features don't come across properly to the average consumer.

So, here are my thoughts on how things will go after the Xbox One and PS4 launch. The Wii U will continue to struggle and I consider it (and have considered it so since it failed to catch on even in its home country) a failed experiment, but, as long as Nintendo is able to stop losing money on the manufacture of each console at some point soon, and has a reasonable stream of first party titles at some point, it will able to stick around in its niche thanks to the Nintendo faithful. The Xbox One will have to get across its value proposition to reach out to the wider public that it's clearly going after. If it can do that, the console, in combination with its cable/satellite integration and ubiquitous next gen Kinect functionality, is well positioned for the long-term. Getting that initial traction is going to be the challenge, though. Sony's PS4 appears to have all the momentum going in, with a compelling platform, a reasonable price point, and strong buzz. The launch will be Sony's to screw up, their proverbial ball to drop. If they don't mess it up, they can stay on cruise control as the clear number one favorite indefinitely, particularly since the Xbox One will have no chance of selling well in Japan, where no US console has ever had a good showing.

As with the Wii U last holiday, this holiday will not necessarily be a good indicator of how either the Xbox One or PS4 will do. Both will likely sell out. It's what happens from roughly January 2014 on that will give us better insight into their future, and the future of consoles in general.

Agree? Disagree? Sound off below in the comments. It's on!

Comments

Nathaniel Tolbert
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interesting. I wonder..

I am looking now and seeing that the playstation camera is now optional and is not coming with the console. They stated at the reveal that it would come with the camera. Is this a response to the fallout over the kinect? Since I hadn't seen anything mentioned I assumed like all the pictures showed that the playstation 4 still came with the camera. That's interesting.

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Bill Loguidice
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Camera

Nathaniel Tolbert wrote:
I am looking now and seeing that the playstation camera is now optional and is not coming with the console. They stated at the reveal that it would come with the camera. Is this a response to the fallout over the kinect? Since I hadn't seen anything mentioned I assumed like all the pictures showed that the playstation 4 still came with the camera. That's interesting.

Yeah, I was under the same impression pre-E3. I think it was a shrewd move, because based on the retail price of the camera (which I also pre-ordered), it looks like it saved them maybe $50 on the PS4's console price. So, instead of having a $100 price differential between the Kinect 2.0-equipped Xbox One, there would have only been a $50 difference. Also, not having the camera bundled in allows them to differentiate further for all those people who think Microsoft is going to be watching them (thunder in the distance...). Sony has definitely been shrewd with the maneuvering early on. It's nice to see, actually, when one of these companies can finally learn from past mistakes and the mistakes of competitors. That hasn't happened enough and should force the whole industry to get better.

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clok1966
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two=one

Nathaniel Tolbert wrote:
I am looking now and seeing that the playstation camera is now optional and is not coming with the console. They stated at the reveal that it would come with the camera. Is this a response to the fallout over the kinect? Since I hadn't seen anything mentioned I assumed like all the pictures showed that the playstation 4 still came with the camera. That's interesting.

Im leaning to sony on all this.. but am still in the "neither boat" I honestly don't think SONY is who all the clapping and applauding (at E3) people think it is. Right now SONY is doing one thing brilliantly, keeping its mouth shut or only saying the stuff we want to hear. much of the stuff they say is honest, but they are omitting alot that MS inst smart enough not to.. This may backfire.. down the road people may just say MS told us, SONY didn't.. In the end i think the MS and SONY boxes will be for more then same then different, not saying something doesn't mean its not there.

Now some of the stuff.. well it is what it is.. Camera (my understanding is you can shut it off, no privacy issues if its off, but why did I have to pay for it then?) Forcing Kinect on is not a good move. Forcing vaccines etc.. ( yes horrible comparison)I understand, forcing non essential entertainment items on me.. not good. Connect every 24 hours or games are locked out (still not 100% sure this correct).. but again for me that's not a huge deal.. just annoying.. and as I have said it does lock some customers out (not a huge amount but some). I don't like it, but not a game breaker..

I do understand some of the hate.. statements like this from MS on people who don't have good internet.. buy a 360 :) those F-U statements, logical (for ms) or not come off bad.. Those statements you simply don't make.. he just said NO NEXT gen for you, your the stone age, use last gens console..

MATTRICK: "Some of the advantages that you get, of having, a box that is designed to use an online state, so, that, uh, to me is the future-proof choice, and I think people, could've arguably gone the other way if we didn't do it and fortunately we have a product for people who aren't able to get some form of connectivity, it's called Xbox 360."

Nathaniel Tolbert
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Regarding the 24 Hour connection...

They did indeed confirm that if you don't connect at least once every 24 hours you will not be allowed to use any game software on the XB1. You will be able to watch TV or Blu-Ray movies, but essentially from the wording you cannot use any gaming software unless you check in. Also they showcased that if you log into your account on another XBox One to play a game tied to your account you will have to check in every hour. They detailed everything (about as clear as muddy water) in a press release. I cannot find it, but IGN has an article on it here -

http://www.ign.com/articles/2013/06/06/microsoft-details-xbox-one-used-g...

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Matt Barton
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Wow

Nathaniel Tolbert wrote:
I am looking now and seeing that the playstation camera is now optional and is not coming with the console. They stated at the reveal that it would come with the camera. Is this a response to the fallout over the kinect? Since I hadn't seen anything mentioned I assumed like all the pictures showed that the playstation 4 still came with the camera. That's interesting.

HMMMMM.....Now that IS interesting. It really is looking like Sony might try to play on the public's fears about the cameras and always-on stuff. I don't know if you guys have been following the news lately, but things are really heating up with this new leak about the NSA and all of their creepy spying on US citizens and plenty of folks in other countries. If there's a backlash, all Sony will have to do is make some TV commercials creeping people out about the Xbone's big brotherly camera and that's it. Parents will make the decision for the kid--we're not having THAT in the house!

I think Sony has a real chance here to win back gamers, particularly if their system does eventually offer "prettier" graphics anyway. I was planning to go for both systems this iteration, but if it comes down to one or the other, I've gotta say Sony is really getting to be attractive to me.

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BitWraith
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It's like the exact opposite

It's like the exact opposite of last cycle. Microsoft had their technology and marketing walking hand-in-hand. Sony's Marketing was a COMPLETE disaster at PS3 launch. It seemed like every single thing they said was a disaster.

Now - Microsoft has foot in mouth disease and Sony is completely destroying Microsoft in marketing. Anyone who thinks Microsoft has a chance of being number 1 after the beating they're taking isn't paying attention to history.

Matt Barton
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Rape Joke--srsly?

BitWraith wrote:
It's like the exact opposite of last cycle. Microsoft had their technology and marketing walking hand-in-hand. Sony's Marketing was a COMPLETE disaster at PS3 launch. It seemed like every single thing they said was a disaster.
Now - Microsoft has foot in mouth disease and Sony is completely destroying Microsoft in marketing. Anyone who thinks Microsoft has a chance of being number 1 after the beating they're taking isn't paying attention to history.

No kidding. I can't believe that idiot they had playing Killer Instinct making a rape joke to a female gamer. They should have fired the goon on the spot.

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Chris
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Between this, Windows 8 and

Between this, Windows 8 and how well their phones are doing, is their any corner MS is remaining strong in? Seriously, at this point saying nothing is better than anything they're doing.

I don't see them going down from this generation of software and devices alone, but part of me wonders if history won't view this as the year MS began it's fall.

BitWraith
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It will result in Balmer

It will result in Balmer getting voted out by shareholders. Microsoft makes most of it's money, though, from government/business contracts. All governments LOL. Until there's a viable alternative to Microsoft products that government workers can actually use, they will be a huge corporation.

Bill Loguidice
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Hard look at the decisions

BitWraith wrote:
It will result in Balmer getting voted out by shareholders. Microsoft makes most of it's money, though, from government/business contracts. All governments LOL. Until there's a viable alternative to Microsoft products that government workers can actually use, they will be a huge corporation.

Yeah, it's unwise to count Microsoft out with their enormous cash reserves and obvious mainstay cash cows like the enterprise. Like with Windows 8, they have time to iterate on the Xbox One to make it all that it can be. Just like Windows 8 and its inherent touchscreen capabilities, they had to know there would be growing pains with Xbox One and all of its features, some of which may take quite some time to pay off and/or become obvious to certain consumers. Also like with Windows 8, they're counting on those features being perfected long before the competition is able to do their own version of it. In one of the few instances in those regards, Microsoft is leading the way and has with both Windows 8 and Xbox One. Whether that gamble pays off is a different story, but it's certainly a different Microsoft in that regard. It's rather refreshing in many ways. That's what having to play catch up in some ways - or, more accurately, respond to the changing landscape (why Windows 8 got those touch features, for instance) - is not necessarily a bad thing. It's forcing them to innovate. Again, looking at it from their perspective, Windows 8 and Xbox One are set up for the long haul. It will probably take the release of Windows 8.1 for what they envisioned with Windows 8 to finally be realized fully, but with the Xbox One, they may not have that much time to tweak the model. We'll see...

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