After all the speculating over the last few months, some information is finally coming out about the technical prowess of both the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One. The verdict is, “The PlayStation 4 is the stronger hardware.”
Of course, that’s no surprise at all to a hardcore gamer. Anyone that’s been following the developments leading up to the imminent release of the next generation of consoles is already aware of the major talking points, like the PS4’s 8 GB of GDDR 5 RAM or the Xbox One’s 32 MB of eSRAM to augment its 8 GB of DDR3 RAM. So people that do their homework know that the games coming out—now put under the scrutiny of digital magnifying glasses—are showing better performance and resolution on the PS4. This all came to a head this week when it was confirmed that Battlefield 4 runs at 720p on the Xbox One, and 900p on the PS4, while today’s news widens the gap even further, with Call of Duty: Ghosts running at 720p on the Xbox One (upscaled, of course, back up to 1080p) while it runs natively at1080p on the PS4.
For people that care about performance, and place a priority on having best gaming experience possible, this makes the choice a no-brainer. Either go with a pricier PC to run everything at ultra settings, or go for a PS4. It can always be argued that these are launch titles and therefore studios will become more comfortable with the Xbox One and get better performance out of it, but the same holds true for the PS4, which already benefits from stronger hardware out of the gate.
However, this is unlikely to change the fact that, at least in North America, the Xbox One is going to dominate the sale charts for the foreseeable future, and Call of Duty: Ghosts is going to sell more copies on the Xbox One than it will on the PS4. The reason is simple; the mainstream gamer—not you, the hardcore gamer that actually follows the industry—simply doesn’t know or care about technical specs or performance gains. This is a gamer that only knows one thing, Call of Duty is an Xbox shooter, and there’s a new Xbox out. 720p versus 1080p and even the higher cost of the Xbox One versus the PS4 pale in comparison to the influence of a COD commercial with an Xbox logo tacked at the end of it. Marketing, not informed decision making is what drives the majority of COD sales, and for every one person in the USA and Canada that does research and makes a careful choice based on price and performance, there are 100 more that see a commercial on TV or an ad plastered on a building touting Call of Duty on Xbox One and walks into store without any questions to buy an Xbox One with COD.
The reality is, there are more people that don’t care about weighing choices, and simply favor whoever makes the most noise with the brightest lights. Microsoft’s near bottomless marketing budget ensures that they will provide both. Of course, in the end, the real winner will be the Xbox 360, as it’s sure to rake in the lion’s share of COD sales. But the Xbox One, being part of that “Xbox is defacto shooter box” legacy will do just fine, and will likely continue to dominate the sales landscape in the years to come. It may not be the most powerful system out there, and it may not be the cheapest either, but as Apple has proven over the years, when it comes to the American market, smart branding is what sells a product, and Microsoft’s money ensures they can buy as much of that as they need compared to their competitors. There may be a few “defectors” from the Microsoft camp to the Sony camp over the cold, hard facts about the performance of these new consoles. But, for the majority of people, “Xbox means Call of Duty because a commercial said so,” and that’s going to be the deciding factor for most consumers in this part of the world.