Dragon Con hosted a video game panel Sunday that packed an Atlanta, GA Hilton Hotel conference room to the point that some attendees had to sit on the floor. The hot topic was the console wars between the PS4 and Xbox One where the PS4 was the most favored next-gen console by those in the room but the conversation primarily revolved around the Xbox One.
The “Console Wars: PS4 vs Xbox One vs ?” panel was hosted by former Epic Games president Mike Capp along with Saints Row IV Creative Director Steve Jaros, Obsidian Entertainment Creative Director Chris Avellone and former Playstation Qore host Veronica Belmont.
Excitement: PS4 vs Xbox One
An informal “excitement” poll of the audience in the room (8:16 in the video) showed that the Playstation 4 is vastly favored just a couple of months before launch. However, the controversial introduction of the Xbox One and the subsequent reversals was definitely the topic of discussion though even nearly two months afterwards. This definitely demonstrates the impact of Microsoft's initial reveal of the console and the subsequent backlash and reversals that followed.
Capps, who worked with Microsoft on the Xbox 360 and Xbox One before leaving Epic Games, explained that the initial media center announcement of the Xbox One was “very purposeful” by Microsoft as it was targeting investors and the mass market instead of gamers.
“I think it’s a reasonable approach to that we have two markets to win. We have the football audience that will buy the Xbox to take us past the 10 million this holiday and then we have the 10 million units we’ll sell to hardcore gamers who are excited about TitanFall, Halo and whatever else. And there’s a bunch of us who will buy that console because the games look bad-ass but that’s not enough to have a successful console.
“To get 200 million Playstation 2s out, 250 or whatever it was, you need to sell a lot to the mass audience. So, Microsoft went after the mass audience first thinking it would later focus on games and unfortunately all the gamers were like, ‘What about me b***h!’ and that did not go over very well.”
Jaros questioned the backlash against “something we love being shared with more people.”
Despite her history with Playstation, Belmont felt that the “hostility was kind of misguided.”
“You guys, they’re going to come out with games,” she said. “And the games are going to be really fun and you’re going to buy them.”
As for indie games, Capps and Jaros both felt that all of the goodwill that Microsoft built up with independent games like Castle Crashers and others was “wiped out” by Sony showing up at E3 and putting Octodad up on stage alongside Killzone: Shadow Fall.
“Their presentation was so slick,” Jaros said. “It was a really well put together press conference.”
PS3 and Xbox 360 graphics vs PS4 and Xbox One
“It’s getting a lot harder to blow anybody away with graphics,” according to Capps. “There’s some amazing titles coming out right now for Gen 7. When the Gen 8 machines come out they are really not that much more powerful. It’s significant but it’s not blow you away. It’s not even high-end PCs right now.
“Last time around, with Xbox 360 it really was a super cheap super high-end PCwhen it came out. They were taking a loss on it because it was such a badass piece of equipment. That’s not really the case this time. It’s not a huge leap.”
The power of the PS4 Share button
While discussing the level of interactivity of next-gen, the thing that impressed hardcore PC guy Chris Avellone the most was the PS4 Share button.
“When we were doing Fallout: New Vegas, one thing we noticed from a community standpoint was there are so many videos that go up that showcase a certain player experience they’re having that they just want to share with the community. As soon as Playstation came out with the Share button for the controller instantly we knew the exact audience that would make use of that and why that was so powerful.”
“We totally get why that’s a feature and even though it’s going to mean higher development costs to do the interface and make sure the programming is all taken care of, we understand why that’s fun for the community and why it’s important. Seeing elements like that actually got us really excited because we knew from previous projects how important it was to share live videos and experiences with other users.
Is Microsoft dismissing Europe and Japan?
One audience member asked about why it seems like Microsoft is ignoring the Japan and European audiences with the Xbox One and Mike Capps brought up Gears of War as an example for Japan.
“Trying to sell an American made console in Japan is very difficult,” Capps explained. “Gears of War was the number one best-selling U.S. title on Xbox in Japan and I think our sales were well south of 100,000 units.”
“When you’re the best and you’re not making any money…I think we lost money on the PR we did in that territory. I understand why it is such a difficult nut to crack. They’re going to try but it’s going to be hard.”
Meanwhile, both Jaros and Belmont examined the difficulties of region locking and specific country and regional laws that cause problems not just for Microsoft and the Xbox but for other services including Netflix. Capps used Russia as an example where Epic Games was forced to sell games there for $5 because of the economy and piracy but the same game was being sold next door in Poland for $35.
“If we didn’t region lock it, guess what happens. Everyone goes over in a truck and buys 10,000 copies of it and brings it back over to Poland,” said Capps.
The PS4 will be released on Nov. 15 for $399.99 while the Xbox One will launch sometime in November for $499.99.
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