For The Sports Gamer It’s No Contest – The PS4 Is The One Console To Get

Posted June 15th, 2013 at 12:30 pm


Coming from a general consumer perspective Sony “won” E3 going away with Microsoft crashing and burning. The narrative is really unquestioned at this point. As things stand now the PS4 is the far more desirable platform for gaming consumers and Microsoft is doing, and saying, all the wrong things. That extends arguably even more so to the hardcore sports gamers who have a clear winner to support going forward.

Before even getting into the practices being instituted by Microsoft there is a major sport they are likely to be completely without. Indications are there will be no MLB game on the Xbox One next spring leaving a best case scenario as a port from 2K that no one would want. Sony’s MLB: The Show series has been one of the best regarded for the current generation and it’ll continue to shine for the company as a selling point and destination for baseball fans.

The big news regarding the two consoles came out of Sony’s press conference on Monday when they announced they would not be instituting any form of built-in DRM to the PS4. They even released a cleverly conceived video which instantly went viral.

Weeks ago Microsoft got crushed by media and consumers regarding their practices perceived as anti-consumer: required online check-in every 24 hours to play any games, severe restrictions on ownership over a product (no lending, no selling to just anyone, no rentals, no used games), and Kinect required for the system to even function.

In essence everyone on the Xbox One will be buying “new” games. Discs are just a form of delivering digital content. Microsoft has talked about something being in place to allow for games to be “traded-in” at “authorized” retailers but even that hasn’t been thoroughly explained nor is it equivalent to the options available now and will lead to additional confusion.

With limited outlets in which games can be “traded-in” (note that they have avoided the word “sell” so it may be for credit rather than cash) those outlets will control the market and be able to set much lower values. There will be no selling used copies on Ebay, Craigslist, Amazon, directly to a friend, at a yard sale, or anything of that nature.

Without the used game market consumers will become more selective leading to publishers taking fewer risks and producing only the ‘AAA’ games with huge marketing budgets. Consumers aren’t going to buy games without complete confidence they will get the value they expect. Not having the ability to rent or buy at a discount (in which often people end up enjoying and spending money on DLC or buying a sequel) is going to create a division in gaming. There will be the full price AAA games and then the discount games but nothing in between.

Creativity will be getting squeezed in favor of what publishers think will sell enough to cover their massive budgets which they have had trouble controlling this last generation. Resources will shift more towards marketing or areas that can be best marketed – think games that have tacked on multiplayer when it wasn’t really necessary and no one was asking for it.

Many consumers rely on selling games they are done with to fund new game purchases. It’s a lot easier to buy a $60 game when you know you can get $30 or so back for it a month or two later. Even with a game like Madden, maybe someone plays it through the NFL season, and then passes it on for $20. The game may have $40 value for them but not a full $60. With sports games releasing every year it’s become tougher to justify buying each release as it is without artificially raising the price by restricting second hand sales or buying used.

The requirement on the Xbox One to connect online every 24 hours is done to confirm ownership of the game that is being played. Once installed on the system the discs no longer need to be in the tray so the check-in makes sure it’s not being used by someone else. This also raises the scenario where a publisher could shut down their authentication for a game and it would no longer be playable – or many years from now when Microsoft could render all games useless.

EA has unequivocally stated they won’t bring back the “Online Pass”. While the PS4 will allow publishers to set their own barriers that is no different than what is in place with the Xbox 360 and PS3. Initial concern was EA would return the Online Pass for the PS4 to balance the value of the two versions of their games but they are definitively stating that will not be the case.

Kinect is less of an issue as it is an inconvenience. Obviously with all the media around privacy in recent days that is where focus has gone in being critical of its requirement. Going beyond that though not everyone has the space in the room for the Kinect to even work and the voice features are just asking for people to mess with your game or the audio from a game to trigger activation of an undesired function.


For those who are able to buy both consoles the PS4 is shaping up to be the far better place to play sports games. Online multiplayer will cost $10 less on PS4 (frequent sales on Live subs negate that as advantage though), the PS4 will come with a headset while the One will not (with the One not even supporting current headsets), live streaming and sharing of highlights will be available on both, getting banned on Xbox Live (dangerously being crowdsourced) may mean losing the license to all your games, the exodus to the PS4 will mean a larger online player base, the PS4 is region free, the PS4’s “Suspend mode” will provide what essentially amounts to in-game saves, and consumers will have the ability to buy used, sell games, and rent them in the manner they expect to do so on PS4. Microsoft will have some exclusive content for EA Sports games – some extra content for FIFA 14 Ultimate Team is all they’ve detailed thus far – but that hardly makes up for everything else and will be limited in scope like that FIFA example.

As a consumer electronic the Xbox One has intriguing aspects. Maybe the TV features resonate with some but realistically none of the things Microsoft have touted are universally compelling. The deal with the NFL at this point is only about fantasy football stats for leagues and putting Surface tablets on the sidelines and it’s hard to imagine any of that swaying anyone. All the other apps will be the same such as Netflix which won’t be behind the paywall on PS4 but will be on the One.

On the Xbox One product page Microsoft asks “ever wish you could chat with a friend on Skype while watching the playoffs?” and my answer to that is “hell no I would never want to do that, nor have anything else I’m watching or playing interrupted”. Who are these features being targeted at? Without support from gamers a console will not thrive.

I’ve always been a Microsoft guy. Their headquarters is only minutes away from where I live, they support my sports teams, and I’ve always been a consumer who remains loyal when done right by. All things being equal I would have stayed with Microsoft in the next-generation as my sole or preferred console. There is simply no justification to continue with them however and it pains me to move on in a such a manner but Microsoft put everyone in a position where it not only makes sense to do so but to go as far as advocate for their opposition.


Anyone who follows the site regularly knows I rarely make recommendations because I take that responsibility so seriously. I’m doing so here.

Amazon has also added four different launch bundles (guaranteed for release day) and the Battlefield and Killzone ones include a year of PlayStation Plus with $10 savings over buying separately. Nicely matching the Xbox One’s base price with no games or year of Xbox Live Gold.

The PS4 is $100 cheaper and offers the ability to freely rent, share, sell, and buy used. It also features a premier MLB game with the Xbox One presumably going without any MLB presence for the foreseeable future. For sports gamers choosing between the two systems it’s a no-brainer.