E3 2013: A Tale of Two Consoles

E3 has once again come and gone, but this year the stakes were even larger than usual. We’re on the cusp of the next generation of gaming, and everyone is fighting to come out on top of the coming revolution.



Sony’s PS4 vs Microsoft Xbox One

The lead-up to Sony and Microsoft’s press conferences was like setting the stage for Ali vs Frazier. Before the two companies appeared, there was a lot of speculation, rumors, and leaks that had the Internet ablaze.

In one corner, you have Microsoft, which was extremely successful this past generation in unseating Sony’s long-standing domination of the market with the PS2, especially with the performance of the Xbox 360 in the North American market. However, leading up to E3, there were a number of issues cited with the next-gen Xbox One, from a less powerful GPU than the PS4, issues with DRM and used game sales, and a requirement of always online connection.

In the other corner was Sony, which struggled over the life of the PS3 to outperform the Xbox 360 in cross-platform ports of games, which typically ran worse on the PS3 due to a complicated architecture. The company eventually surpassed the Xbox 360 global sales in the past few months, but it took years to do so.

Finally, at the show, Xbox showcased a large lineup of games, and priced the system at $499. Later that day Sony announced that in addition to no used game DRM (which led to massive applause and chanting - unusual from a press conference), it was pricing the console at $399. One punch. Two punches. Knockout.

Within 24 hours of this reveal, Amazon sold out of its launch day PS4 stock.

Next-Gen Gaming

So what will define next-gen gaming? Smooth motion, persistent online, and no load times.

Both the Xbox One and PS4 will be running games at 1080p and 60 frames per second. That latter bit seems inconsequential, but it was extremely noticeable looking at these new games at E3. Everything just looks so smooth! This will be a big difference for gamers used to the previous incarnations of consoles.

One of the big trends at the show was games with persistent online worlds and interactions. Destiny, a space FPS from Bungie (Halo developers), The Division, a post-apocalyptic shooter, and The Crew, a racing game, are all new games that offer an online world that’s on the scale of an MMO, but feels like a normal console game. It’s a very neat concept, and the games transition between restricted environments for only a few players, and massive areas for many players seamlessly. As well, many games offer interactions in these games via tablet or mobile interfaces, expanding the way players can interact across devices.

Finally, it looks like we’ll see an end to load times. The current generation of consoles had 512MB of RAM. The next-gen consoles? 8GB. As a result, it looks like developers are loading huge worlds into memory, which severely limits the need to “load” new levels or areas. The games that are exclusively next-gen seem to have made the loading screen a thing of the past.
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