As the first half of 2016 approaches its close, the two strongest members of the ‘Big Three,’ Sony and Microsoft are setting themselves to go toe-to-toe once again. After the summer drought comes the holiday season, and every company will be putting its best foot forward. But before the rush of holiday competition, let’s take a look at how both have developed over the first half of the year.
Both Sony and Microsoft have been making big moves to position the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in the spotlight. Through stage shows, releases, and deals, the juggernauts are trying to get in as many homes as possible. The question is, who’s winning the race this year?
We’re going to take a look at a few different criteria to see who’s really putting their best foot forward in the 2016 round of the console race.
On the third-party front, both the PS4 and The Xbox One have been receiving all of the major titles, for the most part. They’ve been using publishers like EA, Ubisoft, 2K, Activision, and others to bolster their own lineups. Third party releases can only get you so far though. They’ll attract those who only want to go where their friends are, but it doesn’t help pull in a more indecisive audience. For that, you need exclusives.
So far on the Xbox One, the only major exclusive has been Quantum Break, with a few indies to help carry the platform alongside it. In place of exclusives, strong third-party marketing deals have kept the console in advertisements, such as those with Mirror’s Edge Catalyst. Sony on the other hand has been cranking out exclusives, both first and third party. In fact, as of the end of June the PS4’s exclusives will outnumber those on the Xbox One more than 7:1 for the first half of 2016. That’s a huge gap, and while some will say quantity doesn’t mean anything, a lot of those games are sitting above a 75 on Metacritic and sporting a healthy variety.
It’s a much different situation than it was back in 2015, when the PS4 barely had any major names of its own, and one of its largest games, The Order: 1886, didn’t fare very well in the public eye. It’s almost as if both companies switched places for Jan. – Jun. 2016. It’s a bit surprising considering Microsoft showed of its best lineups ever at E3 2015. While it was impressive indeed, we’d love to see those games release. As for now, the PS4 has more on the table.
When it comes to deals, Microsoft and the Xbox One are tough to beat. The PS4 has been cruising since launch with no imminent slowdown in sight. Sony has no need to lower prices because demand has remained consistent. The Xbox One, on the other hand, had to play catch-up in late 2014 and early 2015. And that meant sales galore.
It would seem as if Microsoft isn’t done with the specials just yet, as just prior to E3, the Xbox One received another price cut across all of its bundles. It’s becoming much easier to afford an Xbox One, which is exactly what the console needs in order to be a strong force come Autumn, when all bigger games start hitting store shelves.
Microsoft has never been afraid to cut prices to get ahead, so that’s a win for video game lovers and those looking to break into the generation. Good move, Microsoft.
Plans for the Holiday
Sony and Microsoft’s complete holiday plans are still mostly unknown. What we do know are some of the releases that should be seeing light later this year. Sony has the PSVR hitting shelves in October along with a large lineup of games to help usher in the new tech. On top of that, some of Sony’s biggest exclusives will help round out the lineup such as The Last Guardian and GT Sport. Even without considering the potential holiday bundles, and inevitable deals, the PS4 is sitting pretty come Winter.
Even though it won’t have a brand new VR headset, the Xbox One isn’t trailing behind the PS4. What it’s lacked in the first half of the year will hopefully be filled in come Fall. Gears of War 4, Dead Rising 4, and Forza Horizon 3 are not to be overlooked – they could very well be the biggest games of the holiday season. Also, there is the slightly more powerful Xbox One S that may appeal to curious shoppers. While the PSVR headset may be a problem competition wise, but it could also be a shot in Sony’s foot if they pay too much attention to it and not enough fans buy into the hype.
For the moment, though, it seems as if both have a strong offering going forward, so they seem to be on relatively equal footing and will remain that way until we can see how much of an effect new hardware has on the market.
E3 2016 was yet again an interesting event for both the Xbox One and the PS4. Microsoft was all about their new message for the Xbox going forward. The brand would transcend mere hardware, offering fans more options with how and where they want to experience their games. The future will ensure that nearly all titles are available on both Xbox One and PC, and there will be a lot more cross-platform functionality between the console, PC, mobile, and anyone else who’s willing to join in. As far as games went, there were some stunning new titles revealed, but for the most part, it was a repeat of 2015’s offerings. Microsoft did show off some new hardware, though. The Xbox One S is due out later this summer, with 4K streaming and HDR gaming. Also, Project Scorpio, the long-rumored, much more powerful Xbox One, was officially announced, so the future is looking strong for Microsoft.
Sony had a very different approach from Microsoft at this year’s E3. In fact, this year’s angle was much that of 2015: the games did all of the talking. New surprises such as a remaster of Crash Bandicoot’s original trilogy, Kojima taking to the stage with yet another odd game, and Insomniac working on a Spider-Man game exclusively for the PS4. Sony’s presser also announced the return of Kratos, with a full orchestral number mind you. It was all about the software, no numbers, no business jargon, just experiences to look forward to in the coming years.
Both shows went their own ways. If hardware and the evolution of consoles is your thing, then Xbox probably looks really good to you right now. But, if you’re all about the games, the PS4 proved to be a shining beacon.
Who Comes Out on Top?
What may appeal to one player does not necessarily appeal to another. Hardware, location of friends, game types, deals, pricing, future lineups – these are all crucial elements to consider. Most impressively, though, it seems the two behemoths are diverging in their goals so confidently.
Right now, the PS4 has offered more variety in 2016 when it comes to exclusives. That’s not a matter of opinion, that’s a fact. Games are what attract consumers, and the exclusive offerings of the Xbox One have been paltry. Both consoles have comparative pricing, although the recent price cut by Microsoft allows a few bundles to undercut the PS4.
Meanwhile, Microsoft seems undeterred and focused on building a new console way of life. They’ve zoned in on hardware and platform sharing, projects like elite controllers and controller customization. It’s a path less momentous than the PS4’s dominating lineup, but one that could be laying the foundations for a console experience of their own.
Who do you think is leaving the first half of 2016 stronger, and who’s poised for a takeover this holiday season? Let us know in the comments below.