Thursday, October 31, 2013

Why You Shouldn't Buy the X-box One OR the PS4 at Launch - By Mike Fatum

It's time! It's finally time! New consoles are coming! In just a few short weeks, we'll have our hands on the shiny and the brand new instead of the old and busted. Hooray!

But wait, before you get too excited. Let's stop and think about this for a minute. Despite our love to have the newest and the greatest, should anyone really be buying the X-box One or the Playstation 4 at launch? Is it worth it just to have these consoles in your living room? I'd say no, honestly. Why? Let me break it down for you:

 One of the most exciting things about a new game console coming out is the exciting new games that will take advantage of the console's leaps forward in technology. Whether it's better graphics, new features, enhanced online capabilities - there's a lot to be excited about in a console launch. So let's look at the launch lineup for both consoles, shall we?

XBOX ONE:  Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, Battlefield 4, Call of Duty: Ghosts, Crimson Dragon, Dead Rising 3, FIFA 14, Fighter Within, Forza Motorsport 5, Just Dance 2014, Killer Instinct, Lego Marvel Super Heroes, LocoCycle, Madden NFL 25, NBA 2K14, NBA Live 14, Need for Speed: Rivals, Peggle 2, Powerstar Golf, Ryse: Son of Rome, Skylanders: Swap Force, Zoo TycoonZumba Fitness: World Party

PS4: Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, Basement Crawl, Battlefield 4, Blacklight: Retribution, Call of Duty: Ghosts, Contrast, Counterspy, DC Universe Online, Doki-Doki Universe, Flower, Hohokum, Killzone: Shadow Fall, Knack, FIFA 14, Just Dance 2014, Lego Marvel Super Heroes, Madden NFL 25, Minecraft, N++, NBA 2K14, NBA Live 14, Need for Speed: Rivals, Pinball Arcade, Planetside 2, Pool Nation Extreme, Resogun, Super Motherload, Skylanders: Swap Force, Tiny Brains, Warframe, War Thunder

At first glance, damn that's a lot of games. But then you take a look closer. There are maybe, maybe three brand new games to be excited about here. Otherwise, it's ports, ports, ports. I'd give the Xbox One a slight edge because of Dead Rising 3, but I wouldn't give them my money. Where are the Titanfalls, the Watch Dogs? Oh, that's right. They're not coming until Spring, when most of the good games for both systems are launching. A weak launch lineup isn't a system killer, but it should stay your hand at purchasing until there's something worth having. And since a lot of these great games are getting versions on the consoles you already have...


Remember that little gem above? At the time, people were raging at Microsoft. "How could they possibly have released a product with such a big problem into the marketplace?" Well folks, since I work in consumer electronics as my day job, let me reveal a little secret - nobody releases a product that's fully working anymore. Companies set a launch date, and then lurch towards it drinking Red Bull and staying up late nights to design and fix a product as much as they can, and then they look at the major problems they've got left and say "It'll probably be ok. Ship it!" That's how the electronics industry works now. It may not be optimal, but it's true.

So what does that mean for the Xbox One and PS4? It means there'll be bugs. They might be minor, but the likelihood of them being major system breakers is not small. And even though Microsoft has abandoned their "always online" policy, there will still be server woes the first couple of days as too many people try to access their new accounts at once. But by spring, this'll likely all be fixed or at least tolerable.

The Wii recently stopped production, but the 360 and PS3 are still going relatively strong. Most game companies are not following the old pattern of completely switching until they see the sales of a new console. Combine that with versions of most of the launch games either coming to the older consoles or already out, (you can play Assassin's Creed 4 right now) and you have a good reason to just stick with the oldies but goodies for a few months. The PS2 had new games up until a few years ago, so there's no reason to expect the developers will abandon the old cash cows just yet, especially with their built in install base. They may not have the graphics or some of the new features, but the gameplay and story will still be the same, and you aren't going to see a dip in graphics comparable to the jump from PS2 and X-box to this generation. The graphics for the new generation are better, but not so much better than you're losing out by playing on your current console.


   Now there's a trip down memory lane. Early adopters of the DS got burned, so much so that the console's doom was predicted a thousand times. Then, a few months later, developers figured out the system's tricks, and it's become one of the most beloved and essential handhelds.

The same will likely happen with the X-box One and PS4. The first games will be awkward, the graphics won't be up to snuff yet, and the new things like PS4's share feature will be implemented poorly. But in a few months, maybe even a year, the new ideas will click, and the games will be all the better for it. 

I know you're salivating, and if you want to have that new console now, I certainly won't begrudge you for it. But the smart play, in my mind, is to wait it out and see what happens before you plop $500 on a shiny new piece of tech.


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