This may be an inflammatory post, as the whole Xbox vs. Playstation debate has been raging for years now, and nothing seems to get fanboys on either side worked up quite like definitive statements like the one in my title.
That said, that isn’t the intent of this post. It’s meant to be a discussion of after years of playing each console, and my own pro-Microsoft biases going in, that at least in this past generation, the Playstation was a better value, a better console and a better entertainment machine overall.
I didn’t start out thinking this way. I bought an Xbox 360 relatively early in its release cycle. I was lured by Gears of War, Fable and the promise of Halo 3. When I was younger, I could only afford one system, so 360 was it. That continued for quite a long while until I realized that yes, I could shell out the money and have both.
What followed was a period of discovery as I played through PS3 games I’d missed. Along the way I’ve come to several realizations when it comes to the system, and why ultimately, it’s better than the Xbox. It’s a declaration that took me the entire lifespan of the console to make, but better late than never, I suppose.
This should be a relatively straightforward thing to ask for in a video game console, or really, any electronic device, but the Playstation 3 works while the overwhelming majority of Xbox 360s do not, or at least did not.
Perhaps we’re a bit far removed from the whole Red Ring of Death debacle, but let’s stop for a minute and consider just how insane that was. At its peak, I believe the failure rate for the Xbox 360 was something like 54%. I suspect that was actually higher, because the consoles that hadn’t failed yet? Chances are they were about to or would eventually.
What follows may be anecdotal evidence, but take it how you will. I’m on my 3rd Xbox 360. In one, the video simply stopped working. The second, it was the RROD. My final iteration currently works, but when it runs it sounds like a jet aircraft about to take off in my living room, and I’m not convinced it won’t die on me yet.
Out of all my friends with an Xbox they bought earlier in the console’s lifecycle, not ONE has their original system any more. Everyone has had two or three, one went through six.
Can you imagine if any other console had experienced this massive of a failure? I firmly believe the only reason the Xbox lived through the disaster at all was the backing of mega-giant Microsoft. I think many other companies, ie. Sony and Nintendo, might have bankrupted themselves after having to provide two or three or four system for free to each of their customers over the years.
Not to say a Playstation 3 has never broken down, but it’s just not comparable to the trainwreck that was the earliest years of the Xbox 360.
Xbox Live vs. PSN
The internet has always been a huge pain for the Xbox 360. I remember when I first bought the console, It cost $300 (I think), but you had to spend another $100 on a wireless adapter to hook it up to the internet unless you wanted to snake an ethernet cable all around your house. On top of that there’s Xbox live which cost $50 (now $60) a year to have continued access to the internet through the system.
Over time, it’s gotten even more annoying with the advent of apps on the system. Now you not only have to pay $15 a month for Netflix, you also have to pay that $5/month gateway fee to Microsoft to have mere access to something you’re already paying for.
Worst of all this, it’s just “tradition” now that we’re charged this amount, and most of us have forgotten about it. I rarely play games online any more on 360, but recently was charged the full $60 when my subscription auto-renewed. I know I can shut it off, but if I EVER want to do anything on Xbox Live at any point over the next year, I better leave it active, just in case. I know I’m getting ripped off, but it’s just been such a longstanding part of owning the console, I just ignore it and they sap the money out of my account year after year.
Not so with PSN. From the beginning, there was no $100 wireless adapter, and access to the internet was free. It still is, all these years later. It’s singlehandedly the reason that when I wanted to get a console for my parents (mainly used for Netflix) I got them a PS3, not an Xbox because there wouldn’t be an additional layer of charges.
And yes, there’s a lot of cool stuff on the Xbox Live Arcade, but PSN Plus, Playstation’s paid service gives you a TON of free games, while titles on XBLA you must pay for titles individually. I have to wonder if Microsoft will keep the monthly/yearly charge for XBL when their competition offers the same service for free. Is the money they auto-withdraw overriding the harm it does when compared side by side to Sony? So far, it seems like it.
If we’re doing a war of the exclusives, perhaps we should be including Nintendo here, but I put all its first party titles in their own little category that really is without peer. But if we’re sticking with the head to head format, I have to absolutely hand this trophy to Sony after playing through nearly all the exclusives on both consoles. There just isn’t anything to compare for the most part.
Yes, Xbox has heavy hitters like Gears of War and more importantly, Halo. That series alone is enough to make people buy the entire console, myself included. There used to be more like Fable, but that series went from promising to garbage in a hurry. You could include Forza if you’re a big racing fan, but it’s pretty much canceled out by Gran Turismo. Past these, what do you have? Crackdown? Dance Central? Come on.
But Sony has a massive list full of quality titles that are far more impressive. There’s the obvious God of War and Uncharted, but also Twisted Metal, Resistance, Infamous and Killzone. For the kids (or cool grown-ups) there’s Ratchet and Clank and Jak and Daxter. And then, because of Sony being you know, Japanese, we get Metal Gear Solid (mostly), Shadow of the Colossus, Ico, Demon’s Souls, Ni No Kuni and Heavy Rain. I just can’t see how you can stack up those lists next to each other and not give the advantage to Sony.
This hit me the hardest when I saw Sony’s lineup for PS All-Stars (even if the game was crappy) and wondered if Microsoft would do their own version next. You know, with Master Chief and Marcus Fenix and uh… Alan Wake? Yep.
I also don’t like how Microsoft tries to cheat their way into exclusives either. Stuff like owning the DLC rights for cross-platform games so Xbox gets it first before Playstation. This is going to happen from now until kingdom come for games like Call of Duty and its bevy of maps or other titles and DLC mission packs and what not. That’s not anything truly “exclusive,” that’s just buying your way into screwing over your competition.
All of these items aren’t to say I haven’t enjoyed my time with the Xbox. When it’s been working, I have, and to this day when a new cross-platform game is released, I will buy it for 360 about 95% of the time. Why? Perhaps it’s having the console first, but I’ve just grown more accustomed to using it. And bias aside, I genuinely enjoy the 360 controller more than the Dualshock for most titles.
I’m just reflecting on this now because I’m very curious to see what the next console generation will bring. Microsoft assuredly recognizes the areas in which its lacking, though I wonder what they’ll do to even the score. Making a console that doesn’t auto-break seems like a top priority, but will they ever actually change the model of Xbox Live? I’m not so sure.
Am I just a Sony fanboy now or do you understand any of my points? I’m curious to hear your own thoughts below.