Full Force: PS4, Xbox One, Wii U in Next-Gen War

Full Force is GFN’s weekly look at some of the biggest news in geekdom, from video games to anime to movies and everything in between. We also welcome your comments below, if you want to join the conversation. This week, our panelists take a look at the three next-gen consoles now that they all been out for at least three months.

xboxoneps4wiiu

The Playstation 4 and Xbox One have been out for almost three months now. Have you picked up one (or both), and if so, what’s your verdict? If not, why have you stayed away?

Shaun: I picked up a Wii U. Does that count?

So, here’s the thing – yes, the companies released the consoles, which is great. The only bad part – an admittedly small oversight – is that they FORGOT TO SHIP IT WITH ANY GAMES. Why would I dump 400 dollars, minimum, into an elaborate Blu-Ray player? Come back to me when you have the software to back it up, and maybe I’ll consider upgrading.

Ashley: I still haven’t gotten a next gen console! I wanted to get a PS4 before the holidays, but the whole sold-out thing (plus the price tag) has been forcing me to postpone buying one for a while. But like Shaun said, there are no big games for those consoles yet anyway. Not to say that there aren’t some good ones (fortunately I’m able to play some at work). I figured I could get by with just my current gen consoles for a little while longer, since most games have still been coming out for them as well as the next gen consoles anyway. But now that inFAMOUS Second Son is coming out, etc., I realize that I NEED that PS4 like right now.

LadyCroft3: I picked up a PS4 the day it came out, I don’t regret it in the least. I’m loving it so far and I can’t wait to see what they bring out in the future. I’m looking forward to a few big exclusives and other games like The Evil Within and Destiny.

simpleek: I do plan on picking up an Xbox One at some point, but I’m not in any hurry to buy one just yet. Like Ashley, I’m happy with my Xbox 360. It’s still functioning and games are coming out for it. Once games are no longer being made for the 360 and there are lots more titles I’ll want to buy, then I’ll be more motivated to get one right away. Even so, the current price isn’t really attractive to me and I prefer to see a price drop in the console before making the purchase.

Murf: The generational view of gaming just seems so silly and out-dated now. Both PS3 and the 360 lasted a lot longer than the typical five year cycle, and none of the new consoles bring anything especially new to the game. Sure, streaming and sharing is cool, but that doesn’t improve the playing part of gaming nor does it add any new gameplay. I am already used to upgrading meaning nothing more than an incremental graphics increase with PC gaming, and that doesn’t entail me buying a whole new system to do it.

In other words, I’ll stick to the Wii U since it has some exclusives I can’t get elsewhere, and wait for the other two to be significantly reduced in price before I ever consider getting one.

Chris: I waited for a bit because of the lackluster lineups, and then tried to get a PS4 a month after launch. That was a disaster — the shortage was already in full effect, and it took me a few weeks to finally track one down. The main reason I jumped was one game and one game only: NBA 2K14. Normally one game wouldn’t justify the purchase of a new console, but considering that I’ll probably pour 100+ hours into it…

Crystal: I’m at the point now where I’m pretty selective of the games that I buy. I’d love to get a PS4, but I know that it’ll be a very delayed purchase simply for the fact that there aren’t any games out that I absolutely want to play. Once the top releases begin… then I’ll probably turn into a desperate maniac. Be warned.

Anyone that has followed me or paid attention to my writing knows that I’ve been pretty negative about the Xbox One, and I still am. Who honestly looks forward to a “media system” that hands out achievements for watching television? With the exception of Titanfall, nothing else has made the Xbox One appear attractive to me whatsoever.

David: I nearly won a PS4 at a basketball game that I attended, and that’s the closest I’ve come to owning a next-gen console. For the most part, I usually won’t buy a system within the first couple of years within release. Generally I like to wait and see what the system is going to offer me before I fork over $600 or more in console, controller and game costs. However if I were to pick up a console now it would absolutely be the PS4. I loved my PS3 when I bought it and the PS4 just seems like a newer, better version of my PS4.

Cary: The lack of interesting games kept us from purchasing at launch. Now we’re starting to shop around. Our first next gen system will probably be the Xbox One, mainly because the PS4 just isn’t in stores (and there aren’t any signs that more will be out anytime soon.) Plus we’re hoping that the rumors of a Titanfall bundle become reality.

Pixel Bubble: After camping out for a Wii in 2006, I decided to sit this one out for now. The Wii U has had an incredibly lackluster lineup for over a year now, and there really isn’t a single game that I HAVE to buy a Wii U for until Smash Bros. comes out. And who knows when that’ll be? They’re desperately trying to get it ready for 2014, but Sakurai works incredibly slowly, and I would not be surprised if it slipped into next year. I was dead-set against the Xbone when it was first revealed, but they’ve done a good job of backpedaling on their questionable “features” until they’ve produced a machine that is basically a slightly inferior PS4. I had never owned a Sony console until I bought a PS3 two months ago, and I gotta say, Sony seems to get the largest share of the games that I’m interested in (Metal Gear Solid, Tales). I plan to switch over to PS4 once a) the price goes down, b) the streaming service is activated, and c) they stop making PS3 games.

Like most new consoles, both next-gen systems have only a small number of games available so far — and virtually nothing has released since the launch itself. Does this trend concern you, or is a shiny new system enough to stem the tide until the games follow?

LadyCroft3: The small number of games at launch never concerned me. I currently have 5 hardcopy games and maybe 3-5 downloaded games at the moment for the PS4, but I kept my PS3 which is still getting new content so I’m ok with waiting a bit for the major titles.

simpleek: I don’t really care either way, but I don’t really see the point in getting a new console when there are so few games out for it right now. If I can save my money a little longer and all the games I want is available for the current gen, I’m sticking with that.

Murf: I’ve only purchased two consoles near the time of their release: the Dreamcast and the original Xbox. Both had truly amazing, system-selling titles to backup my purchase. Neither of the recent launches had anything on any level similar to those, so it made the choice of waiting for more a really easy one.

The more alarming trend to me, however, is the lack of backward compatibile or forward-minded design. Part of the beauty of being a PC gamer is that I am not bound by hardware when it comes to certain pieces of software (particularly older games). While there are some cases, Steam and GOG have made it a lot easier to play older games on newer systems, without having to worry about re-buying games again or setting up an older system to play them. I wish consoles would think about that more, especially as we move more and more toward getting all of our games online.

Chris: I’m with Murf on backwards compatibility. I’m not some entitled gamer who expects the PS4 to play every Playstation game ever made. But considering the abysmal track record of the Xbox 360 and the PS3 in the last generation and their inability to survive even a few years, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask that I get one generation of backwards support. I sure as hell won’t be paying full price just to download old-gen games that I already own — putting them onto my current-gen system isn’t worth it.

Shaun: Seriously though. Where is the backwards compatibility? In what must be a painfully easy addition to program, and yet it seems to be an antiquated feature that has been almost completely phased out. The problem I have with it is, like Chris said, I know it comes from a place of greed – these companies want you to shell out the cash for them, and if you do it online, they don’t have to worry about losing money through used game sales. The problem? I, and a lot of other people I know, would be much more willing to make the jump to next gen if we had that former library of games. Without it, the purchase becomes much harder, for various reasons. No longer can I just sell my last gen console to pay for the new one, and I have to figure out something logistical for keeping my 360 handy even though I have a shiny new console. These issues, along with no compelling first party software, have made it difficult for me to make the leap. There’s just no incentive for me dropping the cash on these guys yet. Or possibly at all.

Crystal: The inclusion of other media entertainment such as Netflix have obviously made these consoles more attractive as far as the ability to actually “use” them on release. I can’t remember the release lineup for consoles like the PS2 or the original Xbox, but it would be absolutely ridiculous to release those systems without any hyped games to sell. Now, it’s less likely to transform consoles into dust collectors because of the included media, but I’m a gamer… I want games. Perhaps I’ve just grown up, but it sounds way more sensible to hold off on a new generation purchase until the games I want begin to come out.

Cary: Having just a few games for sale at a console’s launch seems to be the thing to do, unfortunately. I mean, I don’t recall any games that made me immediately die for a PS3 or and Xbox 360. This time round, the non-emphasis on games (Microsoft is more the culprit there than Sony), is pretty sad for gamers. Like Crystal said, and possibly Patrick Henry, give me games or give me nothing. Or wait…was it death? Maybe liberty too? Either way.

Crystal: Games AND Liberty! *poses*

Pixel Bubble: I’ve come to realize that launch lineups almost universally suck, and the few games that are available are not worth the $300+ to me. I’ll wait for a price drop, or hell, even the end of the generation. I’m currently loving my shiny new PS3 and the crap-ton of critically acclaimed games that I got on the cheap.

The forgotten stepchild in the race is the Nintendo Wii U, released almost a year earlier. What do you think of Nintendo’s positioning in the console market — good or bad?

Chris: I’ve seen quite a few folks on the internet posting about the demise of Nintendo because of the Wii U’s struggles, and I can’t help but laugh every time. Why are we surprised by any of this? The Wii U is going to have great first-person games, limited third-party support, and the end result will be a moderately successful console with a handful of titles that are spectacular and move systems. Where have we heard this before? Oh, right — every Nintendo console since the SNES. (Seriously, think back on the N64/Gamecube/Wii. It’s the same pattern.) So Ninty isn’t going anywhere, especially while they continue to have a stranglehold on the handheld market. And as long as that means I keep getting Mario and Zelda games, I’m content with that.

Shaun: The only small outlier to your pattern, I’d say, is the Wii, but only in the fact that it managed to be very successful, fiscally, without breaking any of the trends Nintendo has established for itself over the last 15 years. To answer the question then, no, I don’t think their positioning in the console market – that is, in competition to Sony and Microsoft – is good. They will be the losers this gen. Fortunately, with their history of success, and the fact that they completely dominate the handheld market and the 3DS is killing it, I don’t see it mattering. Nintendo is going to be around for a very long time.

Murf: As a Wii U owner, my only disappointment has been the gamepad’s integration in games. While it works great when it used properly, fewer and fewer games seem to want to do anything with it.

That isn’t necessarily bad, but I am of the mind that Nintendo needs to make it optional now. It costs $140 to replace one, which is a significant portion of the console’s cost. I think Nintendo’s niche should be in cheaper consoles because they are the only company that can make cheap hardware shine with their first party titles.

Of course, I think the Wii U will have a better year in 2014, and should be hitting its stride if we ever get some major titles released (like a Metroid Prime sequel or a new Star Fox).

Crystal: Nintendo’s stance in the industry seems pretty strange to me, and in a way, it identifies the problem in the community. A lot of people miss the “old” Nintendo, but complain when Nintendo sticks to its “old” patterns. I think this may stem from the fact that video gaming in general has grown. It’s not completely seen as a child’s toy anymore, which is both a blessing and a curse for Nintendo. I’ve never had the chance to play the Wii U. My original Wii is still hooked up in the living room for my parents to use when they feel like bowling. Nintendo has always been a kid’s paradise/family game night. Will Nintendo do as well as the competition? Probably not. But Nintendo isn’t going anywhere.

Cary: I want to think that Nintendo is positioning itself like a cobra, just lying in wait until the right moment to strike. But really, most of what Nintendo has been doing recently has just confused me; though I’m more than content to ignore it all with a good Mario title. (Also, I love my new Wii U.) But maybe it’s good that they aren’t doing so well — a little humbling isn’t always a bad thing. I think one of the most telling upcoming moments will be with the release of Bayonetta 2. Will those Wii U-less souls who enjoyed the first game make the leap? I wouldn’t be surprised if at least a few Nintendo execs are holding their breath in hope.

Pixel Bubble: The Wii U is boned. The 3DS was able to be turned around because they took quick action, dropping the price only six months after launch. With Wii U, they had a full year to get a head start on the Xbox One and PS4 and they completely wasted it. We’re now 2 months into 2014 and they’re still months away from the next iterations of Mario Kart and Smash Bros. Are they doomed? I doubt it, but I think the Wii U will continue to struggle mightily through 2014.

When it’s all said and done, who will be the winner of this generation?

Murf: PC gaming, always and forever.

Chris: Probably the PS4, if only because of the XBone’s horrific marketing and PR before its release and the Wii U’s waste of a year head start. That said, I find the “winner” topic to be overrated anyway.

Crystal: PS4 has my vote. Like Chris said, Microsoft failed in terms of initial marketing (their reveal was just catastrophic to me), and Sony hopped in to fill in that “white knight” role that many people (including me) gobbled up. Sony seemed to understand that gamers still want a “video game” console, something that Microsoft seemed to just bypass in order to include their other media content. I’m not going to buy a video game console simply for Netflix or the ability to watch TV.

I have a TV for that.

Shaun: Who do I hope wins? A small part of me is still an Xbox homer, because I love their achievements system, and something about their presentation, their feel, and their menu navigation has always resonated with me more than PlayStation. Maybe it’s just nostalgia talking, but I’d like to see Microsoft recover from their disastrous PR start and come out on top.

Then again…maybe I wouldn’t. Some of the changes they’ve wanted to implement this generation I just can’t get behind, whereas Sony seems to be prioritizing the gamer (or at least more than Microsoft). So I might have just talked myself out of it…

Regardless of who I want, I think, both on critical and commercial success to this point, and realistic outlooks, that it’s the PlayStation 4’s race to lose at this point.

Cary: Mr. Murf, I see your PC and raise you a Steam Machine. Please and thank you. Otherwise, the PS4, at least from the games marketing standpoint.

Pixel Bubble: I think it’ll be a toss-up between the PS4 and the Xbox One, but advantage PS4. Wii U and Xbox One have their respective albatrosses in the GamePad and the Kinect, whereas PS4 has no such mandatory peripheral preventing them from dropping the price as necessary.

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