Is the PS4 for you?
At $399, the PlayStation 4 is $100 cheaper than its rival Xbox One. Still, you shouldn't always make price your deciding factor when choosing between two new pieces of hardware. There are a lot of factors that go into determining which console is right for you, and below I've compiled three key things you need to first figure out before purchasing a PlayStation 4 this holiday season.
Do you mind paying for multiplayer?
One of the biggest changes the PS4 brings with it – for better or worse – is a requirement to pay to play games online. Sony now requires a membership to its PlayStation Plus service in order to play games online. For $49.99, you can get a year of PS Plus which, in addition to allowing multiplayer, offers PlayStation owners free games, heavily discounted games, and all sorts of other goodies every month.
On the plus side, you can still enjoy other entertainment apps, like Netflix, for free on the PS4 without any subscription needed. Xbox One, meanwhile, requires you to have Xbox LIVE Gold for multiplayer games and a number of its entertainment apps.
For PS3 owners migrating to PS4, the PS Plus membership may come as a surprise, but if it means more steady PSN servers then I'm all for it. Just make sure you are, too, before upgrading.
Do games come first?
Sony has clearly emphasized that games come first on its next-gen console. While Microsoft advertises the Xbox One as an “all-in-one” machine – capable of television, music, and games – Sony has made it clear that games come first and foremost on the PS4. Yes, it still has an assortment of secondary entertainment apps like Netflix, Crackle, Hulu Plus, and more (11 total at launch), but the PS4 lacks the same emphasis that Microsoft has placed on these sort of features.
There's no Snap feature allowing you to watch TV and play games simultaneously. There's no Skype. There's no watching TV through your PS4 (though picture-in-picture through your TV is an option!). Point being, games are the clear emphasis – at least at the beginning – for the PlayStation 4. Games come first, entertainment apps come second.
Are you big on indie games?
Sure, the PlayStation 4 will have its fair share of AAA games, but in between the blockbuster titles, the PS4 games lineup will be bolstered by indie titles. Following the success of indie games on the PS3, Sony is hoping to continue the trend on its next-gen system.
We've already begun to see the influence indie titles have had on the PS4's games lineup. Headlining the first month of free PS Plus games for PS4 were Resogun and Contrast. Of course, indie doesn't necessarily mean worse. Resogun was one of the PS4's most highest rated launch titles, receiving more positive reviews than Killzone: Shadow Fall, Sony's staple first-person shooter.
Let's face it, not every game can be the next Uncharted; but, if you aren't ready to embrace indie titles, then you may want to look elsewhere.
The PlayStation 4 is undoubtedly a more powerful machine than its predecessor. That said, does it offer enough of everything else to really warrant a $400 purchase? There's a clear focus on games here -- all sorts of games -- but there are lots of other factors to consider as well.
Do you plan on purchasing a PlayStation 4 this holiday season?