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Five years ago, in 2013, Sony’s PlayStation 4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One were on the verge of launch.
Now, in 2018, the two consoles have come into their own — and they’re more distinct from each other than ever before.
They’re also more affordable than ever before. But which to buy?
The answer isn’t so clear.
AP Photo / Nam Y. Huh
The Xbox One and PlayStation 4 cost approximately the same amount of money: The base level for each is anywhere from $250 to $300 in North America.
There are so-called “bundles” available for both consoles, that come with various games or extra controllers or services, which offer discounts but add to the overall upfront cost — thus the range in price. You’re also likely to find sales that put the price below $250.
That’s all before we start talking about the more powerful, more expensive versions of each console: The $400 PlayStation 4 Pro and $500 Xbox One X.
If you’re looking for the absolute best-looking games running on the most powerful game console hardware, then you’re looking at buying one of these step-up versions of the PS4 and Xbox One. Both do everything that the normal PS4 and Xbox One consoles do, but with the added benefit of making games look ever better than usual.
In the case of the Xbox One X, games are able to natively run with 4K/HDR visuals; the PlayStation 4 Pro offers a similar visual boost, though a slightly less impressive one. If you just bought a super high-end 4K/HDR television and want to see what it can do, the Xbox One X is your best option when it comes to gaming.
In general, for the average buyer, the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 are evenly matched when it comes to price.
This is where things start to divide pretty sharply: Sony’s PlayStation 4 simply has more games you can only play on the PlayStation 4.
From the “Uncharted” series to “The Last of Us” and “Bloodborne,” Sony has a far richer line-up of exclusive games on the PlayStation 4. Upcoming heavies like “Spider-Man” and “Death Stranding” loom large on the horizon. And major third-party games like “Call of Duty,” “Assassin’s Creed,” “Madden” and “FIFA” all show up on the PlayStation 4 as well as the Xbox One.
It’s been Microsoft’s biggest problem with the Xbox One in recent years: Not enough great games that can only be played on the Xbox One. There’s “Halo” and “Forza,” and the occasional new exclusive like “Sea of Thieves” and “State of Decay 2,” but nothing of the scale that Sony’s PS4 has.
For many, understandably, the game library comparison is enough to tip the scale in favor of Sony’s PlayStation 4. But look deeper and you’ll find the competition is more complicated.
Both Sony and Microsoft offer a near-identical service, which serves as a means of accessing online multiplayer gaming as well as offering “free” games (as long as you remain a paying subscriber).
In Sony’s case, the service is PlayStation Network; in Microsoft’s case, it’s called Xbox Live. They cost about the same amount of money ($60/year), and offer access to online gaming on their respective platforms. They both dole out a handful of free games to paying subscribers every month, yours to play as long as you continue to subscribe.
PlayStation Network and Xbox Live are industry standard services at this point, and barely compare. They’re nearly identical. What makes each console stand out in the services department is their Netflix-like gaming services: PlayStation Now and Xbox Game Pass.
With PlayStation Now, users can stream playable over 650 PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, and PlayStation 4 games on a PlayStation 4 or PC. The games are running elsewhere — you just start playing. It costs $20/month, or $100/year.
With Game Pass, users can download and play over 100 original Xbox, Xbox 360, and Xbox One games on the Xbox One. It costs $10/month. Better yet: Any games Microsoft publishes show up on Game Pass at launch, including the next major “Halo” and “Forza” games. It’s one of the best deals available in gaming for this alone.
Xbox Game Pass is a strong argument for owning an Xbox One, and offers a glimpse into the future of video game consoles. Instead of dropping $60 per game, $10/month offers access to a massive library that includes brand new, major games. That’s huge.
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