While the Nintendo Switch has been carving out a nice niche for itself, everyone knows that serious console gaming still comes down to PlayStation vs. Xbox. The PlayStation 4 has enjoyed overwhelming success over the Xbox One since both consoles launched back in 2013, with the PS4 outselling its competitor by a ratio of about 2:1. A few years ago, if you’d asked me which console to pick up, I would have immediately suggested the PS4 and left it at that, as Sony’s console was clearly better at that point in time.
However, Microsoft has slowly but surely turned the Xbox One into a significantly better product in recent years thanks to a number of back end changes, two significant hardware upgrades, and an overall refocus on games ever since Phil Spencer took over as the Head of Xbox. In other words, the question of whether you should purchase a PS4 or Xbox One has become much more complicated than it used to be and now there are compelling reasons for owning both systems. We’ve already taken a look at why you might want to choose the Xbox One, but today we’re going to take the other position and advocate for why you should pick the PS4 instead.
10. Better Overall Performance From Third-Party Games
This is basically a moot point if we’re talking about the Xbox One X but since not everyone who’s looking to purchase a console is looking to buy the most expensive one on the market, let’s just keep this to a discussion between the standard PS4 and Xbox One models, shall we? (and yes, that includes the Xbox One S). The fact of the matter is that PS4 games generally output at higher resolutions than their Xbox One counterparts, a minor advantage that paid off in the PS4’s early years (believe it or not, many consumers actually gravitated to the PS4 for the resolution advantage).
For instance, with a game like Metal Gear Solid 5, there’s more visual clarity to the PS4 version, with distant textures appear softer on the Xbox One version. It’s quite common, especially with earlier titles, to find the PS4 version of a game running outputting a 1080p resolution at 30 or 60 frames per second, while the Xbox One achieves 720p or 900p at 30 or 60 fps. Again, the existence of the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X puts this comparison in Microsoft’s favor on the high end of the hardware spectrum, but when it comes to base models, the PS4 still reigns supreme in the graphical department.
9. PS Vue
For all of Microsoft’s focus pre-launch on the Xbox One being an all-in-one media device, it’s surprising that they don’t offer a service that rivals Sony’s PlayStation Vue. Basically, PS Vue is a subscription-based service that lets you stream live TV, movies, and sports without needing a cable or satellite subscription. The best thing about Vue is that it is a legitimate cord-cutting solution, as you get all the benefits of a traditional cable or satellite package without hidden fees or contracts.
In fairness, PS Vue isn’t a service that is exclusive to the PS4, as you don’t even need a PlayStation console to use it, but it’s still a nice perk of being in the Sony ecosystem. The downside is that Vue is a bit on the pricey side and is still only available in the United States right now. Still, Sony has something good going on with PS Vue and it helps make up for the fact that the PS4 has less apps overall than the Xbox One.
8. Simpler User Interface
Sony and Microsoft have taken very different approaches when it comes to the PS4 and Xbox One’s respective user interfaces. Whereas the PS4 UI has stayed largely the same since launch, with some minor tweaks here and there, Microsoft has overhauled the Xbox One UI multiple times, to the point where today’s UI shares hardly any similarities to the one the Xbox One shipped with back in 2013. Both UIs have their advantages and disadvantages and really, it all comes down to personal preference, but the PS4 does edge out the Xbox One in one important category: simplicity.
While the Xbox UI is more feature-rich, everything feels like it’s too many clicks away. I’ve been using the thing for years and yet it still feels like it takes too long to just get to my games library. The PS4 alleviates this issue by laying everything out in big square tiles right on the main menu, meaning that the the game or app you most recently played is the quickest thing to access (yes, I’m aware the Xbox One does something like this too, but it just isn’t laid out as elegantly). Overall, I feel like the Xbox One UI is probably better than the PS4’s if you were to really dig into it to get the most out of it, but I’d wager that most people just want to play games and not have to waste time navigating confusing menus, which is something the PS4 does a better job of.
7. Larger Install Base
Although the exact figures aren’t known, the PS4 has outsold the Xbox One by a ratio of about 2:1 since 2013 when both consoles first hit the market, with lifetime sales estimated to be 63.3 million PS4 consoles sold to the Xbox One’s 30 million (and that’s on the high end of estimates). The net benefit of this is that the PS4 has a significantly larger install base than the Xbox One, which comes with some perks that may not seem obvious but are actually very important. Having twice as many PS4s out in the wild means that publishers are more likely to release their games on Sony’s console, as these companies want to go where they have the potential of selling the most games. This in turn means that as a PS4 owner, you have more potential software to choose from and it’s more likely that, outside of console exclusives, you’ll have more variety in what you play.
The other major benefit to the PS4 having a larger install base is that, when it comes to multiplayer games, there is an increased chance of there being more people playing a specific game online. For instance, with a game like Destiny 2, which is available on both PS4 and Xbox One, there are more people to play online with on PS4, resulting in decreased wait times for things like matchmaking. Of course, if all your friends are gaming on an Xbox One, it probably makes more sense to go with that instead but if you’re going to be doing a lot of online gaming and don’t really have a preference for which console you play on, the PS4’s larger install base is an attractive proposition.
6. More Storage Options
Prior to the release of firmware update 4.50 in early 2017, the Xbox One had the clear advantage when it came to storage solutions given that it supported external hard drives, whereas the PS4 did not. However, now that the PS4 also supports external drives, it’s fair to say that Sony’s console has the edge over Microsoft’s in this category. The reason for this is that in addition to letting you plus in an external drive, Sony also lets you easily swap out the PS4’s internal drive if you so desire, meaning that the console’s storage capacity is really only limited by your budget.
While it is technically possible to replace the internal drive on an Xbox One (the model type really doesn’t matter), doing so is both needlessly difficult and also voids the warranty, so it’s not something that the average consumer can realistically do. Sure, this isn’t really a big deal, but for anyone who doesn’t want to tie up a USB port with an external drive or is simply trying to go for a more minimalist entertainment setup, not being able to swap out internal hard drives on the Xbox One may be one reason to consider going with a PS4 instead.
5. Better Default Controller
Alright, this is a pretty shaky argument and one that relies solely upon personal preference, but I’d argue that the standard PS4 controller edges out the Xbox One’s by a very slim margin. There are a few main factors for this. The first is that the PS4 controller is a significant improvement upon its predecessor, as the PS3’s DualShock 3 suffers from terrible trigger buttons, sticky thumbsticks and an overall cheap-feeling build quality.
Conversely, the standard Xbox One controller is arguably a step back from the Xbox 360’s, with sharply-angled triggers that become uncomfortable during extended play sessions and loud buttons with poor rebound. It feels like so little thought was put into the design that Microsoft didn’t even bother to improve the D-Pad, which was one of the 360 controller’s few design flaws. Of course, the Xbox One Elite controller is leagues better than either of these controllers but then, it’s not really fair to compare a premium peripheral to one that’s less than half the price.
4. Third-Party Exclusivity Deals
Sony not only has the better exclusive games, but has managed to secure some seriously fantastic deals with various publishers that have helped establish the PS4 as the console of choice for third-party games. While it’s true that Microsoft has managed to secure some great timed exclusives such as Rise of the Tomb Raider and Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds, Sony has taken a bit of a different approach in being able to lock down exclusive content for some of the biggest third party games out there. The big one that comes to mind is Destiny, as Sony was able to snag some exclusive content that, while not essential by any means, made the Xbox One version feel inferior by default.
This has also happened in games like Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare and Star Wars Battlefront, where Sony has essentially made it seem like these games are PS4 exclusives based on in-game content deals and various bundles. Now, I’m not saying that I agree with the way Sony has handled exclusive content this generation, as I actually feel like the Destiny situation specifically is very anti-consumer overall, but the truth of the matter is that if you have a PS4, you’re routinely getting the best version of third party games, which is certainly something to consider if you’re trying to decide between PlayStation and Xbox.
While Microsoft continues to scuttle on what their plans are for virtual reality on Xbox One — are they developing their own headset? Will they use the Oculus Rift? Is Hololens ever coming out? — the PlayStation 4 has a VR headset you can go out and purchase right now. And even though PlayStation VR isn’t on the same level as an HTC Vive or Oculus Rift running on a powerful gaming PC, it’s still a very good virtual reality experience. PS VR is comfortable, convincing, and has a solid lineup of games to choose from, such as Batman: Arkham VR, Resident Evil 7, and Farpoint.
The Xbox One will have VR in one form or another at some point, so it’s not like you’ll never get to enjoy it if you opt for Microsoft’s console, but the fact of the matter is that Sony is well ahead of Microsoft in this category. Even though a PS4 and PS VR headset combo doesn’t come cheap, it’s still the cheapest way to experience quality virtual reality right now, so if you’re interested in the tech and are leaning between buying a PS4 and Xbox One, this category is heavily weighted in Sony’s favor.
2. PlayStation Vita
Yes, Sony’s handheld is basically on life support at this point but the truth is that if you own a PlayStation Vita, there are some cool things you can do with it on your PS4. The big feature is remote play, which essentially turns your Vita into a mini-PS4. While remote play requires a very good internet connection to work properly, it’s surprising just how well it works, with certain games working really well on the handheld. Remote play’s use-case is pretty specific, as it only really makes sense to use if your television is frequently tied up but it’s still a cool feature to have access to.
The other major benefit to owning a Vita and PS4 is that there are quite a few games that are playable on both systems and in most cases, if you purchase the PS4 version, you’ll also get the Vita version. While this is mostly limited to indie titles, features like cross-buy and cross-save essentially make the Vita a portable PS4, so if you’re someone who travels frequently and don’t want to lug your PS4 around with you, the Vita’s integration with the PS4 makes owning both systems an attractive proposition.
1. The Games
Microsoft may have been able to surpass Sony when it comes to hardware, as the Xbox One X is objectively more powerful than even the PS4 Pro, but all the graphical horsepower in the world means nothing if there’s no software that takes advantage of it. Simply put, the PS4 runs circles around the Xbox One when it comes to software, to the point where Microsoft should really be embarrassed with just how much better its competitor’s lineup of exclusive games is. In 2017 alone, the PS4 has shipped games like Horizon Zero Dawn, Nioh, Nier-Automata, Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, and Persona 5, and that’s only scratching the surface of Sony’s exclusives lineup for the year.
In contrast, the Xbox One has just four first-party exclusives to call its own: Halo Wars 2, Cuphead, Super Lucky Tale, and Forza 7 (Crackdown 3 would have made the list had it not been delayed to 2018). Mind you, these lists don’t tell the whole story and there are still a number of great games that the Xbox One has that aren’t available on the PS4, but this is a battle that Microsoft has been coming up short in year-in and year-out since the Xbox One’s launch. The future isn’t looking much better either, as Sony has heavy hitters like God of War, Spider-Man and The Last of Us Part II coming in 2018 and beyond; not to mention that some of this generation’s very best games can only be found on PS4.
This point is really the deciding factor that gives the PS4 the overall edge over the Xbox One, as even though Microsoft now has the more powerful console and has made the Xbox One a much more desirable product than it was at launch, Sony still has the best games and this doesn’t look like it’s going to change anytime soon.