Having readdressed the balance with its momentous u-turn on DRM and Internet check ins, Microsoft still has the prospect of the $100 difference in pricing which at this time makes the PS4 seem like the more attractive console to purchase if you’re torn between the two. However, it’s not as black and white as the PS4 simply being cheaper, as the Xbox One’s price is reflective of the hardware on offer which in this case includes the Kinect camera. Effectively, if the raw Xbox One was sold without Kinect, then it’s possible the prices of the two consoles would be even, yet it appears Microsoft are sticking to their guns with Kinect, which means you’re paying more as a result. The question has to be asked in terms of the overall money consumers set aside and spend on new consoles and software, how much of an impact does $100 actually have?
Sony’s PS4 spec wise looks to be more powerful than the Xbox One, but in real terms the differences might be negligible for it not to be a factor for most people. The console outputs are only ever going to be as good as what the developers can push and achieve – if there’s a common ground, then it’s likely to be widely utilized. Multi platform games make up the bulk of what’s readily available, and as with PS3 and Xbox 360, despite their differences, the outputs are mostly identical. Most casual audiences won’t care at all about specs when games look similar on each console – so really it’s a moot point except for the few who genuinely care.
Xbox One ships with Kinect and is something that can’t be changed on the surface, unless Microsoft do another u-turn and suggest Kinect isn’t mandatory – naturally this would be a disastrous about face that gambles with pleasing the paranoid, versus simply having no integrity with its forward thinking ideas. However, there’s a cost attached to having Kinect integrated into the system in such a manner and means the console price is reflective of this inclusion whether it’s a wanted feature or not. This is Microsoft’s gamble, where there’s an apparent fine hope for a larger presence of Kinect functions in mainstream gaming having the device mandatory. With nothing being shown of how cool Kinect is aside from dashboard navigation, it’s hard to convince the skeptical and paranoid why Kinect is so important. Unless you’re one of the many millions who adopted Kinect 1 and can see the potential for the new version, then it’s an added premium that harms more than it does good at this juncture.
Most importantly, the biggest draw to any console is its software line-up – and to be fair – there’s nothing wrong with being excited for a particular game that’s unique to one console, enough to buy the console, just for that game. In these terms, gamers are going to stick with tried and trusted IPs where it boils down to simple preference. Core gamers at least aren’t going to pass up opportunities to play console exclusives for the sake of a $100 price difference with a competing console that doesn’t have the same games; and in some cases core gamers are most likely to purchase both consoles regardless.
Buying an Xbox One or PS4 is an investment which should provide many days, weeks, months and years of entertainment value, thus cementing that an extra $100 isn’t going to make much of a difference over the longer term. Whilst the initial saving of $100 might seem like a lot, over the lifetime of the console and in comparison to what gets spent overall, it’s small change. Now that Microsoft has somewhat evened the playing field, the price difference is still an issue that will affect some consumers, but there are several factors which make it irrelevant in the grander scheme.