Here Are Some Things PS4 Can Do To Kill Off Xbox One In 2016
Have you got a PS4? You've got a PS4, haven't you? And your Mum has, right? And your Gran? If the stats are anything to go by, pretty much everyone you know has picked up a PS4 since it launched in 2013. It's selling gangbusters.
Not that Sony can afford to get complacent. Xbox One, though quite a way behind globally, has pulled tight to PS4 in both the US and the UK and, if rumours are to be believed, the mighty Microsoft has quite a few announcements up its sleeves in an effort to close the gap even further. So what can Sony do to hold its big rival off in 2016, with the great Christmas run-in already looming over us like Santa's big wobbly belly?
We've drawn up a little list of features we think Sony should lift the lid on this year - preferably at its E3 press briefing next month - in order to stay top dog. Oh, and in case you think we've picked a side in this particular battle, check out our round up of the ways Xbox One can topple PS4 this year, too. We're all for balance, ya know.
1. A stonking great Call of Duty announcement
It would have been hard to believe a couple of months ago, but Call of Duty is in a spot of bother. When rumours suggested Activision was prepping a Modern Warfare remaster, fans held their breath. When it was revealed it would only be available as part of a near £90 bundle with the next CoD release, those same fans spat that breath out in anger. And when the flash-but-dull trailer for Infinite Warfare hit YouTube, it became the most hated trailer on the platform in history.
The problem for Sony is, it's in the middle of a deal with Activision that sees PS4 as the lead platform for Call of Duty. That means all sorts of knobs and bobs as extras (as well as the console's logo slapped all over the advertising) that won't hit Xbox One. However, Microsoft has snatched a similar deal with EA for Battlefield 1, which is currently riding comparatively high in the opinion polls, meaning Xbox One looks like it'll have an almighty weapon in its arsenal come Christmas.
So, while Call of Duty is Activision's dog to handle, it's going to have a big bearing on PS4's performance in the run in to the festive frenzy, and some kind of announcement - whether that's gameplay that seems, you know, good, or something else - at E3 seems like a necessity. Activision's decision to skip E3, however, suggests we may be whistling in the wind for that one.
2. A PS4 with far more power
There are two things Sony likes to push when it comes to PS4 vs. Xbox One; that PS4 is indie friendly and "4 The Players", and that it's packing far more power than MS's machine. Talk to any developer actually working on the two systems, however, and you'll find that neither point really rings true.
Without getting into a technical argument - because, frankly, we have about as much knowledge of that kind of thing as that shop assistant in Curry's who convinced you to pick up an HD-DVD player a few years back - PS4 is marginally more powerful than Xbox One using some measures, but when it comes to the practicality of cross-platform development, any difference is barely noticable. That's why we need a funky new PS4.
And we're going to get one. PS4.5 - or Neo as it's called - is as good as confirmed, and it'll be unveiled next month at E3. What will be key, however, is whether it can successfully offer a great graphical jump over Xbox One without making existing PS4 owners feel short changed. That's a tricky balance, though we expect a large chunk of PS4 fans will trade in their current machines in order to get the new one. As long as it has that flashy blue light on it, of course. What's a console without a pointless, energy consuming but nonetheless slick-as-hell light on the side of it?
3. Some damned good PlayStation VR games
Back in March in San Francisco, PlayStation VR took on long time VR champion Oculus Rift at the Games Developer Conference. By pretty much every measure, PlayStation won (http://www.theladbible.com/articles/virtual-reality-is-going-to-touch-you-and-you-re-going-to-love-it-240316). It was the talk of the town; a smart bit of kit with some promising games for a not unreasonable price. Now's the time to deliver, though.
Promising games aren't necessarily good games when they come out, and if Sony wants to make the most of its one clear advantage over Xbox One (before an inevitable Oculus Rift link up is announced, anyway), it needs some big announcements next month at E3 to bring gamers along with it. This is no easy task given that, for all involved, VR is a new and scary beast.
What would we like? Something new, something not cliched, and something that genuinely takes advantage of VR tech. We don't want ports of existing console releases just because some fat executives in a board room somewhere think it'll deliver guaranteed sales. Lest this be a fad, we need something that justifies VR existing in the first place. You know, just like that amazing Murder, She Wrote episode.
4. A price drop
Sales of PS4 are strong - 40 million sold to-date, and another 20 million expected to have been sold by spring next year. Given sales of Xbox One are fairly strong, too, and Nintendo's NX is less than a year away, Sony doesn't have PS4's victory in the bag just yet. A price drop on the existing unit, coupled with the launch of PS4.5, could really get things motoring.
As things stand, it costs around £280 to get your hands on some form of PS4. Drop that price by £50-£60, and all kinds of folk who hadn't even considered picking up a console yet would suddenly be brought into play, just at the exact moment when those on the bleeding edge are upgrading to the new machine. The perfect storm, if you will.
Oh, and if Sony could bundle in one of those nice PS4 stands so we didn't have to prop them up with a couple of books and a door stop, that'd be awesome.
Words by Keith Andrew