The prices

Well, Microsoft insists on including the Kinect with every Xbox One, which is a huge factor in the package’s higher price. Compare its $500 to the 20 percent cheaper PlayStation 4 at $400 (with a separately sold camera). I understand why MS is bundling the two together — it’s hard to have an input device take over all living rooms if it’s an optional purchase — but a lot of people don’t even want the thing. I know I didn’t at first (though I have definitely come around after seeing how well it interfaces with the Xbox One).

Still … $100.

Winner: PlayStation 4

The futures

The Xbox 360 launched a year earlier than the PlayStation 3, which helped Microsoft beat out the incumbent who ruled the previous console generation with the PS2. The race should be much closer this time around with the one-week difference between the PS4 and Xbox One releases.

But I can’t help but feel that 2014’s Titanfall will end up being the killer app that pushes system sales, so that may end up being a huge advantage for Microsoft in the long run. There simply aren’t enough high-profile “must buy this console to play this game” titles right now, and a lot of people are waiting for something like Titanfall — if not Titanfall itself — before making that $400/$500 purchase.

(Note: I haven’t played or evaluated the final version of this game yet, so take this prediction for what it’s worth. I’m basing this on the assumption that Titanfall will live up to its developers’ pedigrees —  many of them worked on the megaselling Call of Duty series — and on just how awesome it looks so far. Also, many people point out that only the first Titanfall is semi-exclusive, and that’s a fair point. But if it ends up being this next gen’s Call of Duty in terms of sales and popularity, then it will push hardware, and it will establish its fanbase and community on the Xbox One, which will probably give Titanfall 2 a big boost on the same platform.)


Above: Titanfall for Xbox One, Xbox 360, and PC.

Image Credit: Electronic Arts

Add to that the huge brand that Xbox has become — mainstream gamers know it just as well or better than “PlayStation” these days — plus Microsoft’s mighty marketing muscle, and I think the Xbox One is the safer bet to come out on top in the end. This may change, of course, depending on which has better momentum coming out of the 2013 holiday season.

Winner: Xbox One

Bottom line

The above categories aren’t feeding into some sort of forced scorecard. I’m not claiming the Xbox One has a 3-2 advantage over the PlayStation 4 or anything silly like that, especially since factors like “games” and “price” mean a lot more than how your apps are organized on the dashboard. And of course this list isn’t definitive. Other things may matter more to you, like having access to a million fitness videos (Xbox One wins) or the social sharing and streaming of gameplay (PS4 wins). I’m neither fit nor social, so my list can definitely differ from yours.

But if you were to ask me to call a winner, then I’d say the PlayStation 4, simply because it has the small head start, a more consumer-friendly price point, and a wider variety of games at the moment. Let’s see what happens after Titanfall comes out, though.

Overall winner: PlayStation 4 now (and Xbox One later … maybe)