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

Chris
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Joined: 07/27/2011
Optional

So your argument is that since they've stopped including a second controller there are no more two player games?

There's a difference between optionally included and always included but optional use. I have no issues with a kinekt being bundled in. I have issues with a system that won't work if I chose not to plug it in.

Difference.

Just because it's attached, and on, and there doesn't mean the games I want will use it. It's another thing to find a home for on my shelf that I may never want, need or use. If they wan't to include it... great. It'll result in a price difference, and that's fine too. But make the case on why I should connect it, don't tie my hands and say "trust me, you'll be happy I did this someday."

The choices between business models you're wishing we could head down is the difference between ownership and leasing. That it's possible for someone to pull the plug on what you consider 'yours'. This isn't a case as someone else said of "I'm old and don't like change." It's a case of "I'm old and have seen corps move the goal posts to keep me from owning things so they can extract more money".

If seriously the only thing this package would do is mean you have to take disks with you when you want to play at your friends house, then really what are you saving? I'll tell you what you're destroying, for those of us who value video game history... you're destroying the ability to pass down and on what you acquired.

And it's not like they can't offer those services to people who want to sign up. They didn't though. It wasn't a choice. It was we're going to create a new market that erodes your rights for the low low cost of same price on games, but you don't have to bring the disk to a friends house. How many people do that? Seriously. In other news, how many people TRADE games with their friends, let them borrow them? A hell of a lot more.

But... but... but... Steam.

Couple things on steam. First, I prefer GoG. DRM free downloads, remembers what I purchased, and I can move it around as I want. That aside, Steam is the big player in the PC market. So here we go:

1) Next generation PC isn't going to make my games unplayable, my library will stay with me as my computer upgrades. It makes a virtual purchase seem less virtual.
2) I can play offline once downloaded. I don't have to reconnect.
3) The service is free. XB Live isn't.

But mostly:

4) I don't HAVE to use Steam just because I own a PC. When I want something more tangible, I can go that route (usually). Or when available, I go to GoG. DRM free, no questions asked, and remembers my library. On the games I do buy from Steam: the day Steam says "The only way you can run any game on your PC is by connecting to us once a day to make sure you're not stealing it" I'll have a beef with them.

Nathaniel Tolbert
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Joined: 11/06/2010
I must admit..

I must admit, I expected them to backpedal, but I didn't expect them to backpedal until they released the console and they weren't selling well then. I do believe this has nothing to do with the vocal dissent though. It has to do with the numbers, plain and simple. They are not where they want to be with pre-orders, period. Sony is wiping the floor with them in preorders. At one on-line location additional PS4 controllers were higher on the best sellers chart than the XBox One. That is a very telling chart. People yelled and screamed regarding the DRM and Microsoft was unfazed. But then people actually did what we all say we should do, we hit them in their pocketbook. Yes the XBox One had higher preorder numbers than the 360, but clearly they weren't enough. Considering that they have a userbase with their current console of 77 million, they would reasonably expect 2-5% of those numbers to preorder. They didn't, so Microsoft acquiesced on their policies. It also showed that everyone was right in that it was completely software based if they can remove it. I still distrust them. Many people have pointed out that this is the company that kicked us and treated us all like we were dirty filthy pirates who couldn't be trusted with our toys. And where as their preorder numbers should pick up immensely now, I still won't be supporting the XBox One. What has been removed can be added back at any point in time just as easily, and they can do so at any point in time thanks to just one phrase; "Microsoft reserves the right to change any or all policies regarding services without prior consent or knowledge." The one happy thing I take away from this is that my friends in the military who predominantly play the XBox 360 aren't going to be screwed when it comes to playing the next generation of consoles in any way. They can truly purchase what they want.

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clok1966
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Joined: 01/21/2009
MS said its my way or

MS said its my way or nothing, then flinched.. could be those 3:2 sales numbers that where reported have changed to 3:1 in the US and 6:1 in other regions.

I'm sorry Bill you seem to think some holy grail (ok that's an exaggeration by me)of gaming was coming with those Xbox changes.. a Game is a game.. play it online, connection required.. play it solo, not required. I load it to my Xbox and want it on my 2nd xbox, connection required, i dont want that option, not required. , there is still no reason MS cant make it available on another one.. OPTIONALLY for those who want that.. PURE software and making it an OPTION to be always on.. this screw you, we know best - all or nothing attitude is bad.. i would agree with you that it might have had some cool features if the DEVS who develop the games are even saying it sucks and is bad, they above all others should know its ins and outs.. right now the ONLY people saying it was a good thing, MS and the Publishers.. the money men..

"Now the argument can be made, well "I want Kinect to be OPTIONAL." Those of us who know our video game history know full well that OPTIONAL add-ons are never supported the same way packed in accessories are. "

you are right.. but other then fitness and dance games its proved all but worthless.. MS has just forced the Kinect to be the Wimote of this generation.. there will be bad tacked on uses for it so it follows "MS" required Kinect tie in.. Like Wii there will be many great games with crappy tacked on stuff "just to use the hardware" .. that is not good game design, but forced. Yes, it will maybe (very big maybe) produce a few great games so far Kinect still doesnt have one all its own, maybe Dance Central? after a couple a years, why should that change? 1/3 of Xbox 360 users had kinect MS says, there was a market for a good game, so the not enough to warrant making a game is not holding water. KINECT users would have PAID to have a killer game.. but nobody could do it.. there is alot of "dislike" for kinect right now as it was a $150 for those early adopters who never used it. MS knows its not a good enough product to stand on its own (gaming wise).. they have to force it. Good products fail all the time, bad product succeed.. but making the consumer buy it so it will have a chance to succeed is not good in any book. Good product design is giving the customer what he wants, Good marketing is making them pay for more then they need. One is good for gamers, one is good for the company.

all this "it may improve stuff down the line" is all fine.. but I'm informed enough to make that decision for myslef, i don't need MS holding my hand telling me Kinect is wonderful so here, you buy it or you don't use my console. Its My money Im spending, not theirs. MS had several years to make Kinect Relevant to gamers, they didn't.. The 360 had the power, the time, it couldn't do it.. why should i pay to develope it farther?

its all money , MS saw games top making huge bucks on used games and wanted a piece of that pie.. found out they where going to flop hard (by presales) and changed there mind. Ms saw Guitar Hero sell a $10 piece of plastic for $60 and wanted in (so did sony and Nintendo, just Nintendo made it the whole basis for their machine). Kinect and Move and Wiimotes are just the guitar hero controllers of today.. good for a few specific games.. yet they want us to think they improve all games, they simply don't.

the only good thing i see.. I can continue my "all consoles" buying and get to play the good games they have with this announcement. Xbox One is back on my list.. but its on the bottom, price cut time.. Unless of course Bill and MS are right and it turns into a must have for some game/reason.. maybe, Bill is far for level headed with this stuff then me.. it is, after all just games.. :)

one prediction: Kinect less Xbox one.. to compete with SONY on price if sales don't pick up.. almost guess its not possible with as hard as MS is forcing Kinect.. but.. MS if anything does know how to backtrack and fix things. Nope Kintect is MS next HD drive.. Back it cuz its ours, not cuz its going to improve gaming.

Bill Loguidice
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Kinect-less, don't count on it - Let's give it a chance

clok1966 wrote:

one prediction: Kinect less Xbox one.. to compete with SONY on price if sales don't pick up.. almost guess its not possible with as hard as MS is forcing Kinect.. but.. MS if anything does know how to backtrack and fix things. Nope Kintect is MS next HD drive.. Back it cuz its ours, not cuz its going to improve gaming.

All fair points, of course, but I do think it's wise to include Kinect, because we have to consider that this box is more than just for gaming and it's expected to hold up for greater than five years. This is about future proofing as much as possible. Also, this is not Kinect 1.0 we're talking about, this is 2.0, which improves on 1.0 in every perceivable way. Obviously, we may look back in two years and say, hey, Kinect 2.0 is the same gimmick as the first one, underutilized, mostly unnecessary, etc., but at least now there's a chance. There's also a difference in support between 100% ownership and 33% ownership, even if that 33% is a big number.

I see no scenario where Microsoft can unbundle Xbox One from the Kinect. It's too well integrated into the dashboard and the overall media experience, and some games will be expecting it. It *is* possible that they could create an Xbox One that does not do any of the media stuff (beyond Blu-Rays) and just plays discs and downloaded games, and does not include Kinect or the HDMI pass-through (which is another factor in the $100 premium over the PS4). That could be sold for $200 less than the present price I bet, and have a greatly simplified dashboard (basically Play Game or Play BluRay movie). Simply a pure gaming box that we haven't had since the PS2/Xbox/GameCube generation (OK, you can also count the gimped Wii that was recently released in Canada), sort of a BluRay player that also plays most Xbox One games (not all would be compatible, though I'm sure simple patches could be released). Still, sounds like a lot of work.

Again, I think the big issue here is more one of communication and Microsoft telling us the WHYs much better (for everything about the Xbox One) than whether or not Kinect 2.0 should be included and required. I agree if there's not a good argument, maybe it should be dropped. It's my belief there is and will be. As stated, I sure as heck could be proven wrong.

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clok1966
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Joined: 01/21/2009
I do see the UK is reporting

I do see the UK is reporting the xbox has overtaken the ps4 in sales on Amazon UK just after this announcement. None US territory.. that is good news for Xbox for sure.

I do understand them pressing it (Kinect) I do like voice command and a standard does make it more likely it will be used. I think you got it all summed up excellent in your last paragraph.. "Again, I think the big issue here is more one of communication and Microsoft telling us the WHYs much better (for everything about the Xbox One) than whether or not Kinect 2.0 should be included and required."

I often wonder, just one great game could change it all i think.. If that star wars light saber game would have been more then a "we can use kinect" and really done something. there have been some great ideas, The mentioned Star Wars game, a fighting game, even the Mech one that failed so badly ( that i bought at full price and well.. the less said the better). While I rip the kinect its not that i dont think it can do great things. After the Wii and so many games with ANNOYING wii mote controls that added nothing to game play, I worry Kinect will do the same to the Xbox. The extra price is not a huge factor to me (even If i complained loudly about it) good games, wonderful, fps where i have to raise my arm to reload, put my hands to my face to hit my binoculars (well that does sound ok).. I guess I just dont want Kinect controls "just because" and there will be lots.. if i have the option of using or not, that's ok.. but built in.. i fear there will be no options.

evn if im still complaining.. I am happy about the DRM stuff change.. In a way i wish MS would have stuck to its guns.. it would have been good to see the vision they had.. I don't mind being proven wrong at all (if i did I would be in for allot of bad days as I am wrong allot). it might have been a huge deal and maybe just maybe MS wasn't all about the bucks.. but its hard not to see it that way.

Bill Loguidice
Bill Loguidice's picture
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Present evidential estimates

Present evidential estimates of a November 4 release for Xbox One and November 13 for PS4 are several weeks earlier than I expected! (I would selfishly prefer later for the Xbox One so I don't have to start on the book quite so early!)

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Bill Loguidice
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Fascinating Developer Perspective

I'm not sure if the developer made many valid points, but it's nice to get the perspective of what-they-were-thinking: http://www.heyuguysgaming.com/news/12507/heartbroken-xbox-one-employee-l...?

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clok1966
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Joined: 01/21/2009
changes

Bill Loguidice wrote:
I'm not sure if the developer made many valid points, but it's nice to get the perspective of what-they-were-thinking: http://www.heyuguysgaming.com/news/12507/heartbroken-xbox-one-employee-lets-rip-must-read?

you can tell he felt it was an improvement.. I tend to side with the few (very few) well thought out comments below it.. the new ideas are compromising better working old ideas..

family plan, i cant see how this is better then what the 360 already had.. except its faster.. but moving a disc from a machine to machine is not really slow.And the sic way i can lend to a friend down the street, family plan i cant.

making the ONE do social networking.. I am the old scrooge on that.. why the heck do i want a static device i cant pick and chose my ways to use it as a social media device when the PC/phones/ tablets/laptos all allow a billion ways for me to fine tune and use as i want..

still some interesting reading.. and agree 100%. should have spent more time telling us WHY we would want the new changes, then defending and telling us we wanted it with no reasons. But I think it was in such a hole ( through knee jerk reactions, some real and most imagined) MS was in a NO win.. stop drop and roll, make the changes and move on. They have corrected my major issue (used games) so Im about done complaining about um, the camera and always on.. annoying but I'm not worried about it.

Mark Vergeer
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Joined: 01/16/2006
I am searching for release dates across the globe

.... and let's not hope one has to wait for a year or so for a console to finally come out like it used to be the case in the past...

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Mark Vergeer
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Joined: 01/16/2006
Communication fiasco

Interesting read from the MS employee who obviously thought they were in fact improving gaming and be saddened by seeing it all disappear. I still think MS did an awful job communicating all the so called benefits. And when people didn't understand they failed to respond in a manner that made sense to people and only caused more friction.

What I got from it all was a lot or rules and regulations that may make sense to a tech savvy person but are just flabbergasting for regular Joe who wants to play videogames. Much too convoluted and with a lot of different limitations and rules in place. A motto to go by is AEAP = as easy as possible for consoles. MS wasn't doing that with their thing apart from the paying and downloading of the games that is and Sony did. At the same time MS's model of sinking our stories, culture and experiences away in a closed model that basically lets that content evaporate and become inaccessible over time is a bad thing. Stories and experiences need to be retold and experienced again otherwise they have no meaning, no value.

Perhaps MS being a computer platform oriented company and the fact the hardware is pretty PC like made them think that Steam/PC like approach would work for consoles too - well it didn't. Perhaps console gamers do just want a disc, stick it in and play. The PC is more of an open platform where backwards compatibility between OSes is more or less guaranteed whereas these closed consoles seem to have left that. A model like steam works because people can backup their game installs and didn't steam promise they would have an all unlock code in place if ever they would go down so the games would still be installable and playable for people who bought the games?

It's a good thing that they reversed the whole thing. Now what needs to happen is some proper consumer rights in place regarding digital downloads. If it is rented / leased games it is a whole different ball game then if it is games bought & owned and I think there is what digital distribution is at flaw at still. Get a physical copy of a book, music or game and you are much more free to enjoy it as you please and you can enjoy it over long periods of time and you can even give it away (once) or let your kids inherit it. Get a digital copy and you're extremely limited and often have to bend over backwards to be as flexible enjoying the content, enjoying it over a long period of time ain't possible due to the closed formats and units don't hold their value. Fix that and you're in a much better place. Otherwise stick to the lease/rent model at a lower price or even a subscription model. People will perhaps buy into that.

Anyways probably go stick to the 360 and ps3 for now, still no killer apps for me on either console.

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