In the wake of all the E3 madness, the internet has been supercharged with comments, opinions and speculation over which of the recently revealed next-gen systems will be the dominant force in console gaming’s immediate future. Many times over the last few weeks I have seen the words fanboy and stooge written all over forums, articles and even this site – especially after the total turnaround of Microsoft’s always-online and DRM policies.
The internet can often be an extremely valid source for how the general public feels about certain issues, but in more adverse times one’s perspective can be skewed by a very vocal minority. So I decided to do a bit of investigative journalism and cruise over to my local game store and ask consumers and store employees alike about their feelings on the impending console releases.
First off, I asked local game store employees a few questions, and what they had to say was pretty interesting:
Fate of the Game: So far, what games have swayed people one way or another?
Game Store Employee 1: Some of the big exclusives coming out that people in the store have been talking about, Infamous: Second Son is a big one for the PS4. As far as on the Xbox One side, Titan Fall is definitely generating a lot of talk.
Fate of the Game: Are a lot of people talking about games when they come in to pre-order, or are the console announcements the driving force?
Game Store Employee 1: When I look at our list right now there is a lead for the PS4, and people are even reserving the controllers now. When people have come up to pre-order the Xbox One, they either say they are getting both consoles, or are a diehard Microsoft fan-boy. That price also has been a big thing.
Fate of the Game: What are your personal thoughts on what you are going to go with?
Game Store Employee 1: Definitely Sony, I had purchased an Xbox 360 first, but after I got a PS3 sometime later, I stopped playing it totally. Sony just feels like they have more interest in quality. PS Plus is big also, the fact that you can download free games without any restrictions is great.
This employee seems to think the PS4 has the advantage both professionally and personally, but already being a PS3 user may have influenced his personal decision.
Next, I asked a couple of real-life consumers what their thoughts on next-gen were:
Fate of the Game: After all of the console announcements and Microsoft’s change of heart, what Next-Gen console do think you are going to go with?
Michael: It’s still early, at this point I’m leaning towards Xbox, I am a Microsoft gamer at heart, and I am already into that Eco-system with my Gamerscore. Also, I am way in to all of the TV features, and the security of that system so far is comforting.
Fate of the Game: Did Microsoft’s original policy on DRM have any effect on your decision?
Michael: It’s definitely a reason I looked at the other side of the coin, which is something I never thought of doing. I had come to terms with the possibility of buying a PS4.
Fate of the Game: So used games are a big deal to you?
Michael: Used games are definitely important to me, I am buying usually 7 out of 10 games used. It has to be a really special snowflake to get me interested enough to buy new.
Fate of the Game: Do you think you will buy a new console in the launch window?
Michael: That is straight up game driven. I was hoping that Xbox would maybe try to get a little closer to Sony’s price, but once the Witcher 3 comes out, I may not be able to resist. Probably no though, I’m more likely to buy one in the first quarter of 2014.
Fate of the Game: Coming out of E3 what things stuck out to you about the new systems?
Tyler: Overall I liked how Sony was talking directly to the gamers. Xbox seemed liked they didn’t really care about their customers. They showed some great games off, but they weren’t necessarily exclusives. I was disappointed with the Dead Rising 3 showing in particular.
Fate of the Game: In deciding on your next console what are some the major points that are important to you?
Tyler: Well, PS Plus free games are definitely a big thing, I download at least 3 games a month using the service. Games for sure, as well are important, Titan Fall really grabbed me as did Bungie’s new title Destiny, as well as the new Infamous.
Fate of the Game: Are you warmer or colder on Xbox One after the change in policy towards DRM and always online?
Tyler: My friends and I have had a lot of conversations on this, and while I think it will definitely make things more interesting as far as competition with Sony is concerned, just for me personally, I really want to give them the benefit of the doubt. It’s really hard to just because, consumers spoke with their wallets. Before the announcement PS4 was definitely ahead in pre-sales, and if they had pulled their DRM stuff before they were getting beaten in sales I think it would have meant more to me.
Fate of the Game: Do you think the way Microsoft handled their marketing has been good or bad?
Tyler: Honestly, it has mostly been bad. I think for the people who follow the gaming news closely it has really been a downer, but to the consumers who maybe don’t know anything about E3 or follow the news, it may seem really cool to them. I think their strategy has been just really all over place and hard to understand their vision for next-gen in general. I don’t think DRM is necessarily a bad thing, but the way Microsoft handled the announcement and details around it was really terrible. I don’t personally buy many used games, as I like to support the developers. Though it is nice to have the option to trade a game if I need a little credit towards something new.
As we go in to the new generation, it seems gamers are maybe on the fence in their final decision. Based on what the game store employee said PS4 seems to be the more popular choice for early adopters, but consumers as a whole still haven’t fully made up their minds.
Either way it is an exciting time for gaming in general, and hopefully the close competition between Sony and Microsoft will benefit gamers most, as the hardware giants jockey for your hard-earned dollars.
Which new console currently holds your affections, or is your mind made up yet? Be sure to let us know in the comments.