E3: Xbox vs. Playstation 4 Round 2
By: S. Harding , Contributor June 11, 2015
A year and a half ago Sony and Microsoft went toe to toe with there Next Gen Consoles, but this year’s E3 games conference in Los Angeles, hardware is unlikely to be the focus.
The Xbox One and PlayStation 4 are now more than a year old and the focus has now shifted to games. Meanwhile, Nintendo says it is far too early to talk about its NX console, revealed in March and rumoured to be based on Google’s Android technology.
Yet that has not prevented hardware manufacturers from duking it out ahead of the big event.
Tuesday, Microsoft announced the launch of a new Xbox One with one terabyte of storage, providing twice the space as the original version for downloaded games and other digital content. The updated console, priced at £349, will for the moment only be sold exclusively in the UK.
Microsoft has also updated the Xbox One's controller, adding a standard headset jack to the pad – a feature PlayStation 4 users are accustomed to. The tweaked wireless joypad will be bundled with the new 1TB console, but will also be sold separately.
Microsoft is, of course, locked in another round of the console hardware war with Sony and its PlayStation 4, which is also rumoured to be getting a 1TB storage upgrade. The PS4 has reportedly shipped more than 22m units compared with the Xbox One’s 14m by the end of April, despite some deep discounting by Microsoft.
“Microsoft decision to release a bigger storage of the Xbox One is a chance to differentiate itself from PlayStation offering, although we expect Sony to offer a 1TB as well in the future,” says analyst Piers Harding-Rolls, head of games at IHS Technology.
“It also reinforces Microsoft’s Xbox strategy to focus more directly on the gamer, a strategy change brought in when Phil Spencer took charge of the division. The new controller announced is also a welcome change, allowing users to plug their headsets directly into it, rather than mess about with proprietary adaptors.”
A battle over hard drive sizes is perhaps not the most thrilling battleground for the games industry, but it is a vital one in an age where consumers are relying more heavily on storage space.
Harding-Rolls says: “I think the user experience around managing storage – the need to download games to the hard drive to deliver usable performance even when you buy a disk, the inevitability of large patches straight out of the box and the frequency and size of patches – is one aspect of the current PS4 and Xbox One consoles that lets the consumer down significantly.”
“A significant amount of early adopters will have already filled their 500GB, so offering bigger storage is a sensible move from Microsoft,” he adds. “However, additional storage does not solve the user experience around instant access to content bought at retail or the large day-one patches that are routine these days.
“The console company that refines its user experience around these issues will be more robustly positioned in the future.”