Whisper it: the PS4 & Xbox 720 are not about gaming

April 10, 2013 by  
Filed under Features & Editorials

Microsoft and Sony are taking a big risk with their next-gen consoles…

JawsPbk1In literary circles it is often debated whether ‘Jaws’, the original novel by Peter Benchley, is not actually about a big shark, but infidelity. Shark expert Hooper is portrayed as arrogant, with more interest in studying the shark than saving the townspeople and Brody dislikes him on the suspicion he had an affair with his wife. In the novel Hooper is ultimately eaten by the shark. It seems fair comeuppance.

Step into gaming circles and a similar, equally odd, debate is happening. It may have taken until their third and fourth generations respectively, but there is growing support for the notion that the Xbox 720 and PlayStation 4 are not about gaming – even though both platforms have aged far better than any of the subsequent Jaws films ever did. What’s more, in casting their affection away from what should arguably be their primary focus, both may also be chewed up and spat out for it…

The arguments for this shift in priorities are compelling:

  • The consoles are no longer competing on performance, but being aligned
  • Talk is rife that both consoles won’t be backwards compatible with current games
  • Both consoles may block users from playing second-hand games and neither seems keen to clarify this once and for all.

All three are major no-nos in the eyes of hardcore gamers and suggest Microsoft and Sony have far less appetite this time around for a war fought over frame rates, polygon counts and draw distances. Furthermore Sony has gone out of its way to dramatically simplify coding for the PS4, stressing ease of game development on the platform as opposed to a tidal wave of exclusives. Even Microsoft’s Kinect won’t be such a great differentiator after Sony unveiled ‘Eye’, which mimics Kinect alongside controller support for Move-like operation.


So how will Sony and Microsoft duke it out this time around? Two different kinds of media: social and multimedia. “It’s going to be connected. It’s going to be social. It’s going to be immersive. It’s going to be interactive,” said Ubisoft Montreal CEO Yannis Mallat when speaking about the Xbox 720. Mallat admitted next gen console graphics would be “mind-blowing”, but also added that “the connected aspects and the social components will be what will define the difference between a next-gen experience and a current-gen experience.”

Likewise Sony has announced the PS4 will be always connected, will pre-download content users might be interested in and will also feature a dedicated ‘Share’ button. “Base hardware architecture for PlayStation network [is] designed to integrate social networks through all aspects” according to lead Sony developer Mark Cerny. Furthermore Sony is going after casual gamers and a wider female user base.

“We are not going down the route of making the console pink of course,” said Sony Computer Entertainment CEO Andrew House, however “the key is getting games developers who are going to make the next Angry Birds excited about the PS4.” Throw in extended television, film, music and indie developer support which builds upon the current gen consoles and it becomes clear Microsoft and Sony will position the Xbox 720 and PS4 as the technological heart of our homes. And this is a big ask for devices which are not mobile. This is a sample, to read about the threats posed by Nvidia, Valve and threats to the consoles’ longevity click here for the full article @ TrustedReviews

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