PlayStation 4: Still A Scorpio Slayer [Opinion]

Last week’s announcement about the specs for the Xbox Project Scorpio set the internet ablaze with comparisons to the current console leader, the PlayStation 4 (PS4). Early fans are excited that this new system is going to be the most powerful console yet, while critics are being conservative due to concerns related to potential pricing and content exclusives. Let’s be frank here, regardless of where you lie on the console gaming spectrum, you must admit that Sony’s PlayStation 4 is still king. Here are three reasons why the PlayStation 4 will continue to shine.

Number One: Sales

Sony’s flagship system has over 50 million units sold near the end of 2016. Not only does that overshadow the Xbox One, only 24 million, but it speaks volumes about gamer support for the system. While initially the PlayStation 4 benefitted from the lower price point, the real blunder on Microsoft’s end was the concept of digital rights management (DRM) which the company originally used to limit game sharing. For those of you who question this writer’s position on how this impacted public perception, then look at Sony’s official video below.

Even after correcting this debacle, there was still a strong consumer preference for the PlayStation 4 which could largely be due to the second reason in this article. After launching the PlayStation VR headset and the PlayStation 4 Pro, Sony has been crystalizing the console’s dominance in the market. The company reported that almost 10 million units alone were shipped in the last three months of 2016. Do you really think that the Project Scorpio will close that gap? Even if by some miracle the console obtains a huge launch and has sustained sales, unless those results occur within a vacuum, then the Scorpio will never be able to dethrone the PS4.

Price points for the Scorpio are still unknown, but for all that the system offers it is doubtful whether it will be a similar pricing strategy as the PlayStation 4 Pro or if Microsoft will shock us all by going below expectations. With analysts reporting that they expect the PlayStation 4 to hit the 100 million units mark over the course of its life… Maybe Microsoft can turn the tide by hitting Sony where it hurts, in the battle of exclusives.

Number Two: Exclusives

Outside of price, one of the major reasons why gamers purchase consoles is for the exclusive games that each one provides. Nintendo fans usually salivate at the thought of another Mario, Zelda, or Pokémon game. Likewise, Sony fans are usually excited about Kingdom Hearts, Uncharted, and God of War. So, where does that leave Microsoft? Well for the Halo fans in the room, Xbox has always been the one with the ‘cooler’ controller or the better multiplayer. However, regarding Microsoft exclusive titles, things haven’t been going so well for the gaming giant.

Photo of Scalebound from E3 at the Xbox Showcase
[Image by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images]

Earlier this year one of the biggest RPG exclusives for Microsoft, Scalebound, was canceled. This news caused many gamers and YouTubers alike to voice their concerns about Microsoft’s ability to deliver on platform exclusives. With the big push of the ‘Play Anywhere’ model, Scalebound was touted to be one of the great successes of this move to integrate Windows 10 into all aspects of gaming. This has not been the case, and in this game’s absence, there are many questions looming about what is on the horizon. Speaking of horizons, the PlayStation 4’s Horizon Zero Dawn has been performing well and truly showcases why console exclusives are so important in the console life cycle. While both games are very different, their appeal of giant monster fighting, survival, and beauty resonates with a similar audience. This represents a missed opportunity on Microsoft’s end.

The PlayStation 4 isn’t even done with its biggest exclusives either. Fans can look forward to the remake of the iconic Final Fantasy VII, the release of Kingdom Hearts III, and for those who can’t wait then they can enjoy NieR: Automata right now. Despite the Project Scorpio having superior technical specs, it has the same library of games as its predecessors and yet there are not many big exclusives left to justify choosing it over the PlayStation 4.

Number Three: Next-Gen Technology

If for nothing else, then the biggest thing that will solidify the PlayStation 4’s reign as the console king is the slow yet steady adoption of next-gen technology. The introduction of the PlayStation VR was a revolution in the console market. For the first time, console VR became a reality. For consumers who wanted the more interactive and immersive forms of VR, they could use their existing PS4 and buy a headset. PlayStation VR was at 915,000 sales around February of this year, and all signs indicate that it is still expected to grow.

Photo of the PlayStation 4, Controller, VR Headset, and PlayStation Eye
[Image by Alex Wong/Getty Images]

VR content is still in its infancy, but there have been some notable titles that have seen commercial success. Xbox Project Scorpio does not necessarily call out VR as one of its major selling points, and that might change as more information becomes available. However, if we look at the current situation between Oculus and Microsoft, then one has to speculate what will be the role of the VR in the Scorpio strategy. Microsoft is having third-party headsets made for the Windows 10 Creator’s Update, and there is no word on compatibility with the Scorpio. Will there be a new wave of console VR titles or just ports from the PC realm? Either way, Scorpio will have to play catch up to the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation VR.

Both systems are aiming at the new and emerging market of 4K televisions and visuals. The Scorpio is aiming to take the PlayStation 4 Pro down by providing the best console 4K experience. That may be admirable, but 4K televisions and displays have yet to fall into average consumer pricing. This is not an assertion that it is a bad market to target, in fact, I believe Microsoft should be applauded for being forward-thinking in their product design. Chances are if you already own a 4K television and are looking to experience your games in the highest quality, then the Scorpio is the device for you. However, if the availability of 4K content is also a concern and you are looking at what potential titles will be released, then Microsoft’s line up may not be enough to sell you. The PlayStation 4 Pro while not as powerful may be a better fit for your budget and has more exclusives so that could be your deciding factor.

Overall, if you are looking at the devices on a spec by spec basis, then the Xbox Project Scorpio is the clear winner. The real question is, will it be enough to knock the PlayStation 4 off its console throne? Doubtful, but only time will tell, and I think we all are excited to see what happens next. Have different thoughts or views? Let me know!

[Featured Image by Joe Raedele/Getty Images]