When looking at the two big next-gen consoles, you could easily argue that the Xbox One has the more compelling feature set. Improved Kinect, TV integration, seamless multitasking ... it's a tantalizing offer sheet from Microsoft. But the Xbox One also has a not-so-compelling list of restrictions. Today Sony cleared up several questions about the PlayStation 4, announcing that it's both more liberated than the Xbox One, and a bit easier on the wallet.
Before we get to that, though, there's the small matter of the console itself. See, when Sony announced the system earlier this year, the company told us plenty about it, but didn't show us much of anything. It was obvious that Sony was holding out for E3, and so here it (finally) is. Feast your eyes on that hunk of black boxiness pictured above.
But, unlike handheld devices like smartphones or tablets, consoles don't necessarily need to be much to look at. You mostly want them to get the hell out of your way and play some great games on your TV. Fortunately, Sony has a list of those coming your way too, including a few exclusives.
We're looking at Driveclub, Killzone Shadow Fall, and Knack, all available at launch. If you can wait until Q1 2014, then you'll also get to play the next installment in the Infamous series, subtitled Second Son.
Of policies and pricing
That's a solid enough launch lineup, but Microsoft's Xbox restrictions left the door open to other features becoming just as important as the games. So Sony was quick to point out that, unlike the Xbox One, the PS4 will allow you to play used games with no potential for restrictions. It will also let you play offline to your heart's content: no daily online check-ins, as Microsoft requires.
Another window of opportunity for Sony came in the system's pricing. Microsoft surprised some of us with a relatively steep US$500 price tag for the Xbox One. But Sony will undercut it with a $400 cost for the PS4.
Of course, the Xbox One ships with a new Kinect included. The PS4's Eye also gives you motion gaming (albeit the controller-laden type), but it's a separate purchase. So, though Sony is looking pretty good here, this isn't going to be a cut-and-dry decision for everyone.
As for the system's release date, Sony wasn't quite as specific as Microsoft (the Xbox One releases in November). All we know about the PS4 is that it launches "this holiday season." Since it wouldn't make sense for Sony to wait until after Black Friday, October and November are probably the safest bets.