With the next generation of game consoles right around the corner, this holiday season will be very exciting for gamers. Sony (NYSE:SNE) is set to release the PlayStation 4 on Nov. 15, and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) will release the Xbox One on Nov. 22. Nintendo (NASDAQOTH:NTDOY), which had the best-selling console last generation with the Wii, released the Wii U about a year ago.
With the Wii U doing poorly, the battle comes down to Sony and Microsoft. The PlayStation 4 has some serious advantages, and there's a good chance that Sony's console will see the most sales. Here are three reasons the PlayStation 4 will be the winner of this console generation.
1. The PS4 is more powerful.
On paper, the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One look very similar. Both run on processors and graphics chips from AMD, with the processor in each system having eight cores, and both systems have 8GB of RAM. However, it seems that the PlayStation 4 is actually quite a bit more powerful. One of the biggest games of the year, Call of Duty: Ghosts, is a launch title for both systems. The PlayStation 4 version will run at a resolution of 1080p, the same as almost all HDTVs these days, while the Xbox One version will only manage a resolution of 720p, less than half the pixels.
It turns out that the team making the game was unable to get the Xbox One to run at the higher resolution while maintaining the desired frame rate. This is troubling for the Xbox One. If the team behind a well-funded, triple-A title like Ghosts is having trouble with the console, then other cross-platform games may end up following suit. This could give the PS4 a serious edge.
To be fair, the Xbox One will upscale the lower resolution, so the visual differences may or may not be all that noticeable. The fact that the PS4 is more powerful means that games exclusive to Sony's console may outshine Xbox One exclusives, however.
2. It has more and better exclusive games.
While many popular games, like the Call of Duty series and Grand Theft Auto games, are released on both consoles, each console also has some exclusive games as well. Sony has a huge edge here, as it's acquired a roster of more than a dozen game studios pumping out PlayStation exclusives. Guerrilla Games is best known for the Killzone series, a series of solid first-person shooters. Media Molecule is behind the quirky LittleBigPlanet games, and Polyphony Digital is known for the Gran Turismo series. Naughty Dog is in a class of its own, responsible for the Uncharted series and the recent critically acclaimed The Last of Us. The three Uncharted games on the PS3 sold a total of about 17 million copies, and The Last of Us received a perfect score from gaming site IGN.
These are just a few of Sony's studios, with many more currently working on games for the PS4. Microsoft has exclusives of its own, but it can't match the depth and breadth of Sony's offerings. Sony has also put a big emphasis on indie games, making the PS4 very easy to develop for; this should mean that there are quite a few exclusives on the PlayStation Network as well. The bottom line is that Sony's roster of exclusive studios trumps Microsoft's, and both the quantity and quality of PS4 exclusives should surpass those for the Xbox One.
3. The PS4 is cheaper.
At launch, the PlayStation 4 will sell for $399 while the Xbox One will sell for $499. Sony made the mistake of pricing its previous console too high with the PS3 retailing for $599 at launch, and it's clear that the company doesn't want to make the same mistake again. The Xbox One does come with the Kinect motion controller, but forcing this on people may not be the best idea.
The price of both consoles will eventually decline, but for at least a while the PS4 will have a big advantage. New gamers will see the PS4 as a cheaper, more powerful console with better exclusives and without unnecessary peripherals.
Does Nintendo have a chance?
The Nintendo Wii sold well because it was inexpensive and was -up to the Wii that launched last year, has sold poorly thus far. The company was forced to cut the price in September; this led to more sales, but Nintendo is still losing money.
Nintendo has a roster of popular game characters like Mario and Zelda, but the console is generally aimed at a younger crowd. This may turn out to ultimately be beneficial for the company, but as of right now it's not working very well.
I doubt that the Wii U will outsell either the PS4 or the Xbox One, although it may begin to see some success at lower price points. It certainly won't be a repeat of the Wii, though.
The bottom line
Sony's PlayStation 4 has a lot of things going for it as we near the launch of the next generation of consoles. A more powerful system, better exclusives, and a lower price all point to the PS4 at least initially outselling the Xbox One. This is a marathon and not a sprint, but Sony currently seems to have everything going for it.