So, you’ve finally decided you want to make the leap to a next-gen console? You probably have a few questions, though, or perhaps you’ve merely caught some of the ongoing debate between Xbox One and PlayStation 4 fanatics. However, although volumes have been said about both systems, each has grown drastically since its initial release in the end of 2013. The fierce competition between Sony and Microsoft remains persistent, yet each system’s game and app selection, host of streaming services, and pricing continues to fluctuate with each passing season. Sony may have sold more units since 2013, sure, but Microsoft is quickly closing the gap — and the best of both systems is still to come. Nonetheless, there are instances when one console still showcases an edge over the other. We’ve outlined the details below.
Game selection and performance
Both the Xbox One and PS4 offer more than 100 unique titles, each with their own set of exclusives. Although the PS4 touts notable titles such as The Last of Us: Remastered and Bloodborne, the Xbox One slightly tips the scales in Microsoft’s favor with games such as Sunset Overdrive, Titanfall, and Forza Horizon 2. However, the PS4 also boasts a greater selection of landmark indie titles — i.e. Resogun, Hotline Miami 2, and the forthcoming Abzû — making it more appealing to those who prefer retro-based platformers, unique storytelling, and games that might not garner the same blockbuster appeal as titles within the Call of Duty franchise. Which games are better may ultimately come down to the type of titles you like to play, though, so there’s always room for debate.
Related: Our favorite games for Xbox One
That said, the PS4 will typically deliver a marginally better gaming experience nine out of 10 times when it comes cross-platform titles such as Destiny and Evolve. Our head-to-head comparisons showed that the PS4 usually renders games better than Xbox One, delivering overall better clarity and consistently offering 1080p resolution whenever possible. The Xbox One on the other hand tends to upscale graphics, which is likely to bother some videophiles and perhaps even a host of casual gamers. When it comes down to it, though, the PS4 still makes up for its lack of killer exclusives with better graphical capabilities and a stellar list of indie titles.
Winner: PlayStation 4
Both the PS4 and Xbox One were built with more than simply gaming in mind. Microsoft has spoken time and time again regarding its bold vision for a world where the Xbox One is the only box in your living room, and believe it or not, the One is quickly achieving that vision. The One is now equal parts streaming box and gaming console, and unlike Sony’s next-gen counterpart, the system is designed to operate your cable box and record regular programming.
Both consoles feature the usual third-party subscription services such as Netflix and Amazon Instant Video, along with app offerings like Hulu Plus, HBO Go, Twitch, Ustream, and Crackle. The Xbox has increased its library tenfold in the second year of its existence, though, while subsequently redefining and polishing its interface to trump that of the PS4. The laundry list of Xbox apps also includes some big names that aren’t available on PS4 yet, such as Skype, Pandora, ESPN, and Fox Now.
Having access to said networks requires a subscription to an “authorized” cable provider on both consoles, though, and you’ll even have to sign up for a paid subscription with Sony to access all the content the company had a hand in creating. The sheer app variety of the Xbox One alone makes it the victor.
Winner: Xbox One
Oh, how the times change. The PlayStation 3 was and remains an excellent media device, one capable of streaming music and video from your PC and playing content directly off of a USB-connected device. However, the PS4 has only recently taken off as a fully-fledged streaming console. Sony’s new subscription service (PlayStation Now) offers more than 100 PlayStation games for instant streaming, that is, so long as you opt for either the $20 or $45 subscription. PlayStation Vue, a cloud-based streaming service that’s still in a beta testing but will offer access to more than 75 different networks, is also expected to launch by the end of 2015.
Microsoft has taken a different approach to media streaming. The company optimized Xbox One as a media device when it tore down the Xbox Live paywall, granting users free access to streaming services such as Netflix as long as they have a paid subscription with the service. If you’re a cable TV subscriber, you can even connect your cable to the console for greater functionality and performance. Both the PS4 and Xbox One are also outfitted for Blu-ray playback, but given the latter is the only console designed to directly integrate with your cable service, it currently showcases the upper hand over Sony’s streaming ecosystem.
Winner: Xbox One