The debate over which console is more powerful is a staple at the start of any new console generation. However, the current back and forth between the PS4 and Xbox One has taken an interesting turn not only because it’s been Sony versus Microsoft or fanboy versus fanboy but because Microsoft has directly engaged fans on forums such as Reddit and NeoGAF in an attempt to defend the specs of the console. This led to a seemingly devastating article from Edge Online Friday but it also proves that Microsoft’s attempts to argue over the power differences between the two next-gen consoles is fruitless at best.
On paper, the PS4 is more powerful than the Xbox One thanks to a graphics processor that comes with 50 percent more Compute Units (18 versus 12) and the use of 8 GB of GDDR5 memory. Microsoft representatives such as Albert Penello can argue that the use of ESRAM as a buffer will make up for the memory speed difference matters little as detractors will simply point to the actual reported numbers of the consoles.
This combative approach has also fed journalists to go and grab juicy quotes from anonymous developers such as one claiming to Edge that multi-platform developers will be forced to “castrate” games on the PS4 because politics will require them to make games on that platform equal to the Xbox One. This is a patently silly statement as Sony would raise all sorts of hell if that were the case and the differences between the PS3 and Xbox 360 certainly didn’t stop some games from looking noticeably worse on one of the consoles.
There was also another claim stating the graphic drivers for both consoles were not ready yet and the Xbox One’s was further behind. That’s actually not that surprising given that both consoles will launch with day one updates to the system which is the new normal for modern consoles. Both Microsoft and Sony are still working furiously to optimize the software for their systems and will be doing so right up to their respective launch dates in November.
However, both these examples illustrate how silly it is for Microsoft to engage in a performance war for the Xbox One with not just fans but the media as well. At best, and this is being charitable, the company will be able to say the Xbox One provides equal performance to the PS4 and that truthfully means nothing at this point in the game.
Instead of debating performance specs, Microsoft needs to be hammering games, features and services. For example, Xbox LIVE was a superior experience over PSN despite being behind a paywall on the Xbox 360 and representatives need to heralding why this will continue into the next-generation. If Kinect on the Xbox One is supposed to erase all the complaints of the Xbox 360 version and provide $100 worth of value, show that repeatedly. If exclusives like Dead Rising 3, Ryse, Forza Motorsport 5, Killer Instinct and other titles are supposed to be more unique and amazing than anything from the competition, put that out in front now. If the ID@Xbox indie developer program attracted hundreds of applicants, let’s start seeing at least the top game pitches that will likely coming the soonest.
Microsoft has already dug itself a hole with the Xbox One due to the initial unveiling of unpopular policies that were later reversed along with a series of other PR stumbles. This hole is only made deeper by the console being $100 more expensive than the PS4 and getting into a fanboy-like console specs war with gamers is a losing proposition for a number of reasons. The funny thing with consoles though is that they happen to be a very visual medium where most of these concerns can be wiped away by simply showing the games, services and features that make the Xbox One worth owning. Talking about a bunch of numbers that will go over the heads of the majority of consumers anyways is a losing proposition.
You can follow Scott via Facebook, Twitter, RSS feed or email alerts for all the latest game news and deals as well as the weekly Furious Fourcast podcast/videocast. All game news on Examiner can be followed at the Game On Facebook page and Twitter feed.