The specifications are finalized. The games are in development. The battle is about to begin. Sony Corp., Microsoft Corp., and Nintendo Co. Ltd. are about to engage in a new console war to take over living rooms and market share for the next generation. Each carries a varied set of weaponry and a specific strategy to win. Punch Jump examines the strengths and weaknesses of the Playstation 4, Xbox One, and the Wii U to see what will aid or wound the console makers in their bid for domination.
Strengths: The Playstation 4 is targeting the core user with beastly specifications and developer-friendly architecture. Its 8-core AMD x86-64 AMD Jaguar combined with a custom AMD Radeon GPU chipset with 18 compute units and 8GB of unified GDDR5 RAM will deploy high-fidelity graphics and allow developers the freedom allocate high-bandwidth RAM accordingly to prevent bottlenecks. Add in the new Dualshock 4 controller with built-in touchpad, lightbar, and share button functionality, and users have the next powerful upgrade for next-generation games.
Weaknesses: The PS4 may be too conservative in its approach to the modern mass market. While the hardware is powerful, updated specifications may not be enough to lure the casual user away from other gaming options like smartphones and tablets. With Blu-ray disc players and streaming boxes now available at $99 or less, the lack of incentive to purchase a PS4 for non-gaming entertainment could limit its appeal.
Strengths: The Xbox One is positioned as an all-in-one entertainment system for games, entertainment, music and interactive content. The hardware is powerful with an 8-core AMD x86 CPU, custom AMD Radeon GPU with 12 compute units, 32MB of ESRAM to decrease latency, and 8GB of DDR3 RAM. The new Kinect, sold with each Xbox One, enables voice and gesture control functionality for games, live TV, and interactive content like NFL fantasy football. The hardware will continue to deploy the next wave of top franchise games and hold the best online functionality due to tight integration with Xbox Live.
Weaknesses: The Xbox One is required to have an Internet connection. Though it does not have to be persistent, a daily login can be a hassle for users without a connection. As a result, cloud functionality to offload hardware congestion may be inconsistent to users without an online connection. In addition, used or rented games may require an additional fee. The mission to create a set-top box rather than a gaming console resulted in a less powerful GPU and three OS layers limit the amount of RAM developers can devote to games. Finally, many Xbox One features like live TV integration and interactive sports content hold limited appeal outside the U.S. In the U.S., television consumption is starting to fade and live TV integration could be an unwanted feature for consumers.
Strengths: The Wii U, released last Nov., offers a compelling gaming and entertainment solution. The Wii U GamePad includes a 6.2-inch resistive touch screen to allow users to experience new gameplay in titles like the brilliant ZombiU, conduct Off TV play, or stream entertainment content to either the main television or the GamePad. Miiverse functionality offers a social element to each game by allowing users to post screenshots, type, or draw comments. Nintendo will release the latest franchise updates from Mario, Zelda, Mario Kart, and Zelda to the hardware, all of which hold global appeal. Finally, the Wii U will always be in a value position compared to the PS4 or Xbox One due to less expensive components and yearly cost-reduction.
Weaknesses: The Wii U has suffered from a lack of consistent releases post launch. The game drought in combination with the pending release of the PS4 and Xbox One has caused consumers to take a wait-and-see approach to the hardware. Due to a lower-than-expected user base, select third-party developers have begun to reposition their resources to the PS4 or Xbox One. Also, the Wii U is the least powerful of all new consoles which will limit future multi-platform releases.