Editorial

Here are some things Microsoft can learn from the PS4 reveal

Sony made a huge splash on Wednesday night when it finally revealed the first details on its PlayStation 4 console at a press event in New York City. There were some things that we think Sony did very well during the event and other things that Sony probably should not have included in its first presentation.

Now the ball is firmly in Microsoft's court. It's been over seven years since the Xbox 360 hit store shelves and with a "holiday 2013" time frame planned for the PS4 launch, Microsoft pretty much has to announce what it has planned for the "next Xbox" sometime in 2013. After watching the PS4 reveal event, and reading some comments made by Sony executives afterwards, we think Microsoft would do well to take some lessons from Sony's good and bad decisions.

Show the "next Xbox" console during your reveal event: Sony may think that, "A console is just a box", but Microsoft should know better than anyone that the design of a game console is very important. The look of the original Xbox was, well, a big black case with little style. The first design for the Xbox 360 was a step in the right direction and the Xbox 360 "Slim" case in 2010 was an even better look.

We hope that when Microsoft has a "next Xbox" reveal event, it makes the decision to actually show a real working prototype of the console on stage. Is it a minor thing for a "first look" press conference? Maybe, but we think that gamers want to be able to see what they are going to buy in a few months.

Have some awesome first party "next Xbox" game titles to show off: The very best part of the PS4 presentation was the first look at four first party games that Sony plans to release for the console, and quite frankly all of them look pretty cool at this stage. Killzone: Shadow Fall looks like a fun and graphically rich sci-fi shooter, and Knack is shaping up to be an entertaining action-adventure title with a main robot character that can add or subtract parts from himself.

Sucker Punch is looking to bring back its cool inFamous game series with Second Son, but the game we were most impressed with was DriveClub from Evolution Studios. It looks like its going to be a mix of Need for Speed with Gran Turismo, but with the most detailed graphics we have ever seen in a racing game.

Microsoft better have some great looking and playing "next Xbox" games from its own studios to show off for its reveal. We are confident they will do so, but at the moment, we are pretty excited about playing these PS4 games.

Don't bother with showing third party games that have already been announced: As good as Sony's new first party PS4 games looked on Wednesday, we were a bit let down by the third party game presentations from other publishers. The only one that showed off a game that we had not seen before was Capcom with Deep Down (which looked pretty cool, by the way). Ubisoft did show new gameplay footage from Watch Dogs, but we saw that game at E3 2012 in June. Bungie showed off new Destiny video at the event but that game had gotten its own big press reveal just a few days ago.

Blizzard also announced that Diablo III would be coming to the PS4 and the PS3, but they didn't even bother to show footage of the console ports. Square Enix showed a demo, not an actual game, during the PS4 press conference, and teased us with a Final Fantasy announcement for later at E3 2013.

So basically, we got just one cool new game from a third party publisher during the PS4 reveal event. That's not even close to being enough. Microsoft would be advised to off some new third party games during its first "next Xbox" reveal.

Show that the "next Xbox" supports indie gaming: Jonathan Blow's acclaimed indie game Braid made its debut on the Xbox 360's Xbox Live Arcade service in 2008. So it was a surprise to learn on Wednesday that his next game, the open world puzzle title The Witness, would be making its console debut on the PS4. We are not sure how Microsoft let that one slip by.

In any case, Microsoft has to show that the "next Xbox" will be open to new and even experimental games from small independent developers and it needs to make that clear during the "next Xbox" reveal.

Go easy on the graphical demos: Demos are cool to look at for a few seconds to show off the graphical capabilities of a new next-gen console, but Sony went a little overboard on Wednesday night with the demos for the PS4. Quantic Dream showed a detailed human face running on the PS4 hardware and tried to use it as a way to showcase how the console allows developers to not worry anymore about hardware limitations.

However, the demo was, in a word, boring. Modeling a detailed human face is great, but we honestly care more about gameplay and wanted to see that face mapped on a character in a real game title and have him do cool stuff.

Media Molecule's PS4 demo involved shaping virtual characters and objects with the PlayStation Move controller. However, how all of this would work in an actual game was never made clear at all. Just how does the player use the Move to shape the virtual object? We don't have a clue based on the video. The final sequence, where two people with Move controllers are seen manipulating two characters on the screen, never talks about all of this is accomplished. It was confusing and really should have been left out of the PS4 reveal event.

If Microsoft wants to show some quick graphical demo clips for its "next Xbox" reveal, that's great. They should not, however, devote tons of time to graphical demos that don't represent actual gameplay. The console reveal should have a laser focus on games; real games that are in development and are coming out for the console.

Images via Sony

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I disagree that The Look of the Console matters 9 months from release. I think the details they have where very good. they gave the official specs and showed games. It is a gaming console. We already know the media capabilites of the system. Media apps are standard on even Sony blueray players and TV's we know the PS4 will have all the standards media apps. The last thing Sony needed the media spending all day talking about how the console looks instead of what it is capable of.

Stop using terms like 'social' this, 'share' that and 'connect' who-knows-what in every second sentence. It's quite annoying after a wile.

.Markus said,
Stop using terms like 'social' this, 'share' that and 'connect' who-knows-what in every second sentence. It's quite annoying after a wile.

They're attempting brain washing with familiar terms so you associate the terms with their console; "mindshare" as I've heard it coined. Makes sense, but yes, annoying.

I did find it odd how these meaningless words would keep appearing on the screen behind the speaker. Ha I guess it was sort of like a 2 hour brainwashing experience. I just found it dreadfully dull, lacking in any inspiration or inventiveness. I feel like Sony has not matured with the game industry and is trying to resell game experiences we've already had. Not a damn thing in that 2 hours+ was exciting or mind blowing. All Sony does is iterate. More polygons, taking features from their competitors old products. Sony is a follower with no vision to expand beyond the core niche they found in 1994.

I don't think you could pay me to play that Witness game. I think Sudoku looks more exciting. However if they sell it as a cure for insomnia it might make money.

It's like they said, "Hey, let's copy Myst but not put a lot of effort in the design and rendering. It worked for WoW, so why not?"

Use you're cores for better ai and physx, not freaking beaming everything upto the Internet and buffering game play, seriously WTF..

"that detailed human face", by the way, looked dreadful. Put it side by side to the Witcher 2 on PC, or even some older games like LA Noire on PC and it just doesn't stand up to comparison.

Wakers said,
"that detailed human face", by the way, looked dreadful. Put it side by side to the Witcher 2 on PC, or even some older games like LA Noire on PC and it just doesn't stand up to comparison.

Just put crysis3 during a cutscene at very high details, the quality is astonishing and they always di close up

The games all looked terrible. I don't mean technically terrible, but design wise. This article keeps using the word "cool" but I think the games all looked boring lifeless soulless without a single spark of innovation or creativity. The scripting in Killzone was terrible compared to what we've seen and that series has been a huge bomb. Infamous looks like more of the same generic Marvel wannabe ripoff. The racing game looked like any other racing game. The 3D modeling with Move looked really boring and limited in functionality. Witness looked dreadfully boring, maybe a game for people with high blood pressure. The 2 hours was agonizingly boring. Only Sony can figure out how to make video games a dull experience. The only actual game in that whole 2 hours worth noting is Watch Dogs which will eventually be on every platform known to man.

Salem874 said,
The stream DID use Ustream. It was just in iFrame embedded onto the Sony site, the iFrame containted the UStream player.

Indeed, and the fact that Ustream couldn't handle just half a million people watching a simple video stream doesn't inspire any confidence at all in PS4's sharing features using the Ustream service.

I would also add please show some media capability. Not everybody is a full on hardcore gamer. In my mind these consoles would be expensive and I would like to know what other things it can do. Sony showed a quick picture and stated more info at a later time.

I agree. And I fully expect them to dedicate a significant portion to just that.

Also, Xbox Store, to complement the Windows Store. There is no reason why DirectX games written for the Windows Store can't be made to work on the next Xbox - with obvious changes added for different controls. It worked for XNA.

Indeed. I honestly think that the market it with a multi-media device rather than a strictly gaming device! Let's see what both sides bring to the table.

AlthalusDGr8 said,
Am hoping it will be a unified store with the Windows Store rather then a separate store once again. Buy once play everywhere...

I agree, but it would probably be rebranded as the Xbox Store and only contain games/apps that have been optimized for the Xbox controller.

AlthalusDGr8 said,
Am hoping it will be a unified store with the Windows Store rather then a separate store once again. Buy once play everywhere...

If the rumours are to be believed, the next Xbox will be based on a modified Windows 8 OS, so porting games between Windows 8 and Xbox should be child's play.