Microsoft and Sony: Two Sides of the Same Coin [Editorial]
posted Tuesday Jun 11, 2013 by Scott Ertz
We all knew going into E3 2013 that it was all about the battle between Microsoft and Sony for the hearts and minds of the Internet. Microsoft had set themselves up for trouble when they did not fully explain that their initial Xbox One launch and media event was a media event, gaining them a lot of flack from bloggers who were not smart enough to understand announcing too many games 19 days before E3 was a bad move. Sony got a lot of flack in February for not showing hardware, but time tends to erase memories.
After the announcement event, Microsoft continued to put their foot farther down their throat by emphasizing the always-on Internet connection and publisher opt-in used-game policy. People took to the Internet in droves to complain about the console needing to be on the Internet. No, I'm not kidding - that is exactly what happened; people complained on the Internet about their console needing the Internet. I'll let you absorb that information for a moment while I change topics.
Microsoft did exactly what anyone with a brain would expect at their press conference: focused on games. In fact, save for during the recap of everything Halo that has been announced, the word television was not said. The game lineup was great and the presentation went very well. Sony's conference, on the other hand, went the other way. The initial focus on media content certainly undermined their own statement that PS4 is not a media device. That aside, their game lineup was also great, with a number of exciting announcements. All-in, the gaming comparison was pretty flat.
One big announcement that Sony did make was that there was no used game policy. The crowd went nuts. Well, as it turns out, that wasn't entirely true. In fact, it wasn't true at all. The PS4 has almost the exact same used-game policy that the Xbox One has - a publisher opt-in program. If a publisher wants to prohibit you from trading, sharing or selling your used games, they have that option. All Sony was saying is that their FIRST PARTY titles have chosen not to opt-in. Microsoft, on the other hand, has not officially stated whether or not their first party titles will opt-in to their program. So, now that we have the information here, again the presentations are pretty flat.
Sony did take a legitimate stand against the always-on Internet connection, stating that the console does NOT have to check-in ever. Now, people on the Internet (yes, we are unfortunately back on this topic) will find this exciting, but let me argue the other side for just a moment. Many games already institute this policy on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Let's take Tiger Woods, for example. If the console doesn't have Internet connection, you cannot earn status points for your club nor other connected-achievements. This is because modern games often have global economies, whether it be in career scores, item process or other statistics. By running the economy locally without any interaction with the rest of the world, the whole economy can be affected when you return. There is also the case of hacking, which often takes place offline, but let's focus on the positive aspects.
By taking these opposite stands on the Internet requirement, Microsoft and Sony are officially going after different types of gamers. Sony is looking for players who don't have constant Internet connections; either people who live in places where there is no Internet connectivity or people who tend not to pay their bills and get shut off. It also means that they don't place a lot of value on the PSN, which we have kind of always known. Microsoft, on the other hand, has placed great value on Xbox Live, as they have for a decade, encouraging games to take advantage of a global economy and a persistent global world. These network focuses will result in a different type of exclusive game and a different type of gameplay for non-exclusives on each console.
The one announcement out of Sony that seemed to be glazed over was the requirement for PlayStation Plus for multiplayer gaming. We all knew it was a matter of time as there is only one type of business model in free. You can sell dollar bills for 90 cents for a while and generate A LOT of revenue, but there comes a point where the dollar bills run out and you have to change policies. If you need an example, ask MetroPCS how it worked for them. Many PlayStation gamers have claimed it would never happen and if it did they would leave Sony.
So, the question is now: which type of game are you interested in: persistent global world or self-contained gameplay? Let us know in the comments below.