At the time of writing this post, it is six weeks until the Xbox One is released here in the UK, and seven until the PS4. For the first time in a very long time, I won’t be buying either console at launch.
I was wracking my brain trying to remember the very first time I bought a console on launch day, and that memory was sparked by the news a couple of weeks ago that it was eighteen years since the original PlayStation was released in Europe. Eighteen. That’s a pretty sobering thought.
On September 29th 1995, I was driven to Toys R Us in Poole by my then boss (it was an important work visiting given that the two of us made up the IT department, leaving the office unstaffed) to buy a PlayStation with a free copy of Street Fighter: The Movie (what a game) for the wallet troubling price of £300. Fortunately Toys R Us were selling the console on interest free credit, so I had six months to pay for it.
Since that time I have bought the Dreamcast, PlayStation 2, Xbox, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on the day of release either in person, by proxy or online. Until now.
There are a number of reasons for this, price being one of the major contenders, but not the biggest one. In days gone by my lifestyle was one that provided me with an extremely high level of disposable income, working in an industry that pays well and with no expensive mortgage payments or children to think about then my overheads were relatively low. But now things are different, and if you still live at home and pay little or no rent at all then I’ll give you this little nugget of advice: Enjoy it! Because living is expensive, really expensive. And I don’t have children yet. Throwing caution to the wind that I was so good at in my twenties and early thirties and racking up another credit card bill just isn’t an option. You’ve got to grow up sometime, and my priorities are different now.
But the thing is, nothing from this launch line up is really leaping out at me, and these new consoles are shaping up to be an evolution of the last ones. That said, it’s all they really can be. We had the online revolution with the 360 and PS3, and now these consoles are smart boxes designed to be a central hub for all of our digital entertainment. Microsoft were to keen to stress this at the Xbox One launch event, choosing to spend a lot of time talking about sport and connecting your cable box into the console so you can watch something…through something else.
Then we have Microsoft themselves, who have made such a complete hash of their reveal, launch, message and pretty much everything else to do with the Xbox One, going back on their plans for anything that has been perceived as negative. Like many other people, I’ve been left speechless at the level of incompetence that has come out of the current market leader as Microsoft have switched from doing things that benefited the consumer with the Xbox 360, to the dictatorial method with Xbox One. If Microsoft became the new Sony doing what was right for gamers, then Sony have now become the new Microsoft this gen with PS4. Just witness their display at E3 this year basically saying “We screwed up, kind of got a bit up ourselves, sorry, but here you go, GAMES!” In actual fact, Sony haven’t really had to do much but sit back and watch what their competitors are doing, then give the public what they want, like Malibu Stacey and her new hat.
Looking at the way things stand now, if I had the money and I had to choose then I would probably buy a PS4, but would probably be wishing it was an Xbox One. I know that sounds ridiculous, but for someone who just wants to play games I would go with the company that is focusing on those. I’ve had some great gaming experiences with my PlayStation 3(s) this generation, and thanks to the PlayStation Plus Instant Game Collection I’ve been playing more diverse titles thanks to them being “free”, and the service has given me a reason to dust off my Vita. But it has been on the Xbox 360 that I have racked up thousands of hours in games like Fable, Fallout 3, and Splinter Cell. And it has been on that console that I have had the best online experiences laughing and shouting over countless co-op sessions on Xbox Live. Microsoft had the likes of J Allard and Peter Moore at the launch of the Xbox 360, now it has a bunch of faceless suits staying on message and grinning through gritted teeth about the amazing experiences we are all going to be having on Xbox One.
I’ll stick with my stack of unplayed titles from this generation for now thanks, and wait for the price cut I was always told I should do.