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The Thursday Debate: Is Xbox One or PS4 the better long-term investment?

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Welcome to The Thursday Debate on El33tonline! Every week, we’ll be focussing on a single topic of discussion and debating both sides of the story before asking you to weigh in on the subject at hand.

This week, Oliver and Tom discuss which console, the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One, represents the best value for money and is the better long-term investment for consumers.

Read our arguments below and let us know what you think of the latest topic of debate.

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Oliver’s Case

The Xbox One is the better long-term investment

Some might argue right off the bat that the $100 price disparity between Xbox One and PlayStation 4 means that Sony’s console is already a better value proposition, but considering the inclusion of the latest Kinect device not only means that the extra price is validated, but Microsoft has taken a forward-looking approach with its machine, investing in the future of Xbox One much like the PlayStation 3 did by including a Blu-ray drive which made it more expensive than Xbox 360.

With Kinect, a few important features are made possible, not least of which is very rapid navigation of menus with gestures and voice commands – no controller required – which dovetails nicely into Microsoft’s vision of a single, solitary box in the living room making it possible to replace other set-top boxes and DVR recorders in the future – a very family and future concious vision that involves generations of current and up-and-coming gamers able to enjoy Xbox One.

The Kinect’s influence on the future desirability of Xbox One extends to the games able to be played right out of the box, with easy to understand titles, as well as traditional party and dance games that again involve groups of players – friends and family – in the living room, which means Xbox One will continue to be an all-in-one console that people look to for family friendly entertainment.

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PlayStation 4′s camera device, however, is an additional purchase over and above the console itself, which is significant given game developers’ reticence towards creating games for peripherals that aren’t guaranteed to be available to their audience, which vastly limits the range and types of games able to be created for the system, limiting the PS4′s potential for exciting, innovative experiences.

As far as exclusive Xbox One games are concerned, it’s known that new entries to the Fable and Halo series are in the works that will continue to be strong titles for Microsoft, with a mystery title from Black Tusk (most probably Crackdown), as well as exclusives like Quantum Break and Sunset Overdrive planned for launch in 2014. Exclusives aren’t the end of Microsoft’s long-term strategy, though, because we’re sure to see the fruits of the publisher’s episodic downloadable content experiments seen with Halo 4, already planned for Quantum Break and Killer Instinct, which means huge value adds in the future.

Microsoft’s ability to grab timed exclusives like Peggle 2 and content for some of the biggest game franchises in the world like Call of Duty, Battlefield and FIFA should also be of concern for potential PlayStation 4 buyers because it essentially shuts them out of the conversation about these games for at least a few weeks before they get their hands on this content. In addition, Xbox 360 was the home of many fantastic independently developed games and those relationships don’t just go away – expect developers like The Behemoth and others to support Xbox One in the future.

The Xbox One will also play host to the largest selection of online media applications, with more to be added in the future, while Microsoft will continue to build on the best-in-class Xbox LIVE service from Xbox 360 with an impressive network infrastructure to ensure we’re playing games without a hitch well into the future. Added to this the chance for developers to make use of Cloud storage and computing to make meaningful (and fun) changes to their games (like themed holiday events) and including important features (like off-loading AI computations for smoother network play) means the Xbox One has a superior online strategy with huge, forward-looking investments from Microsoft.

Rebuttal: Pending

Do you have a good response to Oliver’s argument for the Xbox One being the better long-term investment? Let your opinion be known in the comments and we’ll pick the best response as an official rebuttal here.


Tom’s Case

The PlayStation 4 is the better long-term investment

When considering this debate topic I think it’s important to look to the past to ascertain how things are going to play out over the respective life cycles of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. You only have to look at the PlayStation 3′s software line-up over the past year to realise that there are far more triple-A exclusives being made for Sony’s console than Microsoft’s, with The Last of Us, God of War: Ascension, Beyond: Two Souls and Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch representing some of these highlights.

It seems like every other week that a new Japanese RPG is released exclusively on PS3, so once the PS4 has a large enough install base I think you will see the same pattern emerging. Most gamers would agree that the PS3′s software line-up for 2013 is an impressive one considering that the console has been out for seven years, but can the same be said for the Xbox 360′s line-up if we take multiplatform releases out of the equation?

Sony has some of the top studios in the world developing exclusive games for the PS4 – developers such as Naughty Dog, Sony Santa Monica, Media Molecule, Japan Studio and Guerrilla Games. With the PS4 reportedly being a dream to develop for, I think that we’ll see the turnaround between big blockbusters becoming shorter and I’ve got no doubt in my mind that a high percentage of the best reviewed next-gen games will be exclusive to Sony’s new console.

Microsoft has talked a lot about the Xbox One leveraging the power of the Cloud to essentially make it future-proof. It’s the PS4, however, that has better hardware specs on paper and the console’s lead system architect Mark Cerny has mentioned that developers have only scratched the surface of what can be achieved with the PS4′s hardware configuration. This makes it the better long-term investment in my eyes since its hardware appears poised to remain relevant for longer than the Xbox One’s.

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At launch the PS4 is $100 cheaper than the Xbox One and as long as Microsoft choose to bundle it with the Kinect this discrepancy in price is likely to continue even as both companies reduce manufacturing costs and gradually bring down each console’s price.

Another factor that’s important to consider is the stability of each company’s console business. In recent times there have been a lot of changes in management on the Xbox side whereas PlayStation’s executive hierarchy appears rock solid at the moment. There has been talk that Microsoft could sell its Xbox division since it’s reportedly operating at a loss so who knows what the future holds for the brand. On the other hand, Sony’s PlayStation business has been around for almost two decades and has already weathered many storms to get to where it is today. If I were a betting man I’d bet my money on the PS4 being a better long-term investment than the Xbox One purely based on how much faith I place in each brand.

There’s also a little something called PlayStation Plus which we shouldn’t forget about. When Sony starts including retail PS4 titles in the PS Plus Instant Game Collection then gamers will be able to experience some blockbuster games for a fraction of their usual cost. We don’t know if Microsoft intends to include Xbox One titles in its Games with Gold promotion at some point in the future, but you’d think the company would have announced something by now if it did.

If you’re looking to buy a next-gen console then the PS4 is without a doubt the better long-term investment. It seems destined to have more exclusives than the Xbox One and its more powerful hardware will have a major impact on the types of games we’ll be playing on it over the next seven or eight years. The management structure of Sony’s PlayStation division is also a lot more stable than it is over at Microsoft so expect this to be another important factor which gives the PS4 impetus as the next-gen contenders battle it out.

Rebuttal: Pending

Do you have a good response to Tom’s argument against the PlayStation 4 being the better long-term investment? Let your opinion be known in the comments and we’ll pick the best response as an official rebuttal here.


What do you think? Is the Xbox One or PS4 the better long-term investment?

Would you like to suggest a future Thursday Debate topic? You can send it through to oliver[@]el33tonline[dot]com and we’ll do our best to fairly represent both sides of the argument.


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