The long-awaited console launches are finally here and with it a potential spike in video game sales. Releasing earlier, Sony's (NYSE:SNE) PlayStation 4 has the jump on Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Xbox One, but overall sales will depend on the quality of each system and consumers' view of the consoles.
When it comes to hardware, the PS4 and Xbox One have a few important differences.
First, the Xbox One has three USB ports and two HDMI outlets, compared to the PS4's two USB ports and one HDMI outlet. This second HDMI outlet will help the Xbox to be more of a home entertainment system by allowing a connection with your satellite or cable box.
Second, both consoles come with a 500 GB hard drive. This seems like a lot compared to current generation consoles that shipped with 20, 60, or 80 GB hard drives, but newer games like Killzone: Shadow Fall are 40 GB alone, and with downloadable content, gamers could find themselves in need of extra space. For this, Sony has made the PS4's hard drive removable so it can be replaced and upgraded. Xbox will eventually allow external hard drives for additional storage. So, while it's possible for Xbox players to run out of space before external hard drives become usable, it's unlikely.
When it comes to raw power, the PS4 has an edge that can be seen in the first wave of cross-format games. When Call of Duty: Ghosts is played on the Xbox One, it is forced to run at a lower 720p resolution, compared to the PS4's 1080p. This difference will push gamers toward purchasing the PS4 over the Xbox One.
They're watching you
Out of the box, the most noticeable difference between the consoles is that the Xbox One comes with Kinect 2.0, a gaming camera. To capture motion and depth, the upgraded Kinect emits photons and times how long it takes them to bounce off of your body. This technology, paired with the camera's new HD capabilities, makes the Kinect 2.0 much more accurate than its predecessor. The camera will allow users to play exclusive games and control other aspects of the Xbox One with voice commands and hand motions. Users can turn on the system, switch between TV and games, and record gameplay, all by using the Kinect 2.0.
The PS4 has a camera that is not included with the system, but can be purchased for $60. The PlayStation camera uses motion, voice commands, and can sense where players are in the room based on a light on the back of the PS4's controller. The camera is an improvement on the PS Eye for PlayStation 3, but it isn't as advanced as the Kinect 2.0.
While the Kinect is included with the Xbox One, it isn't free. The Xbox One sells for $499, $100 more than the PS4. This price point will also push consumers toward the PS4, especially those who prefer playing games sitting on a couch instead of moving around the living room.
The PS4 and the Xbox One each have advantages that could attract consumers and boost sales. The Xbox One has a more advanced gaming camera, plus the potential to be a complete home entertainment system. The PS4 has a cheaper price point and has shown better graphics for cross-format games. Hardcore gamers will lean toward purchasing the PS4, while families might prefer the Xbox One.
Ben Popkin has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.