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Sony Will Compete With Valve, Not Microsoft, Next Generation

Posted on Saturday, February 23 @ 11:04:00 PST by Jonathan_Leack

In this corner weighing at 8GB of GDDR5…

Watching the PlayStation 4 reveal I was surprised, despite trying not to be, at the specs for Sony's next console. The eight-core AMD CPU was anticipated, but opting for 8GB of GDDR5 and a GPU comparable to the GeForce 660/660ti is something the PC gamer inside of me couldn't help but be excited about. My astonishment soon turned into curiosity once I thought about how Microsoft's Durango (code name for next-gen Xbox) is clearly not aiming for the same demographic.

First and foremost, the PlayStation 4's specs triumph the Durango's in every way possible. Based on the rumors—which appear to be spot-on—Microsoft has opted for DDR3 memory as opposed to the PlayStation 4's unified GDDR5 memory. For game developers this is a huge difference that will have visual consequences, and will necessarily dampen the quality of multiplatform titles on Microsoft’s next system. Similarly, the Durango's GPU is a huge jump from last generation but is expected to produce roughly 15 – 30% fewer teraflops than what the PlayStation 4's solution. In the current climate where consumers are expecting a huge leap in graphics, every horsepower counts.

Most importantly, the Durango is presumed to have an even more advanced version of Kinect built-in. Such a move indicates that Microsoft wants to make its motion and voice command capabilities a major feature of the next console. We’ve already seen integration with its core titles such as Forza Motorsport and Mass Effect, and it doesn’t appear to be ending there. The company has shown an affection for such technologies with its PC division, and that has flooded over to the console arena as well.

Microsoft appears to be going a completely different route than last generation with multi-tasking, motion controls, and applications being the staple features of its upcoming hardware. It is also likely to be sold at a reasonable price point that could be anywhere from $99 - $199 less than the PlayStation 4. The mixture of its moderate specs, thorough integration of Kinect technology, and affordable price point make it more of a competitor for Nintendo than Sony.

Which leads me to my main point: Microsoft and Sony are not going head-to-head next-generation. Sony has made it abundantly clear that it's interested in games, games, and… uh… games—and heck, throw developers in there, too. Its powerful, PC gamer-approved specs and standard design make it an enticing purchase for gamers and techies alike. Meanwhile, Microsoft is trying to make a multimedia device that fits into the living room of American families. That's not to say that it won't be good at playing Call of Duty and other titles, but we’ve seen what happens when one system has even a minor advantage in multiplatform titles and graphics.

After this realization you'd think that Sony has a free-ride next-generation, but that couldn't be further from the truth. Valve is getting ready to debut its Steam Box this year and it’s going to have potent PC specs as well. It’s directed at the same customers that Sony is after, the people who stay up all Saturday night trying to clear the next dungeon of Dark Souls, and have had discussions with their friends about who G-Man (Half-Life) really is. It’s a direct competitor to Sony, and one that shouldn’t be underestimated.

After such a rollercoaster ride this generation it’ll be nice to see something new, and you can bet that the next few years will be unlike anything we’ve ever seen before. Nintendo is struggling to give the Wii U legs going into the future but has tons of exclusives to debut at E3, while Microsoft has a console ready to announce that wants to kick Nintendo out of the living room. In stark contrast, Sony has what appears to be the perfect gaming machine set to debut later this year, but fan-favorite Valve wants a piece of the same pie. Who will be victorious? It’s impossible to tell at this point. The best you can do is sit back and enjoy the spectacle. 
Tags:   Microsoft, PS4, Sony, Valve

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