In the video game industry as in many popular video games themselves, a fierce rivalry has taken center stage. Sony took a commanding early lead and its PlayStation and PlayStation 2 systems are both among best-selling video game consoles of all time at No.4 and No.1, respectively. Then the tide turned and Microsoft’s Xbox 360 edged out the PlayStation 3 in the current generation console wars, having recently posted its 27th consecutive month as the top-selling console in the U.S. But we may soon see this rivalry fade as the missions of Microsoft’s next-generation “Xbox Infinity” and Sony’s PlayStation 4 begin to diverge.
At launch, the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 were both laser focused on gaming. They lured in hardcore gamers with improved graphics, more power and better gameplay. But over time, a trend emerged that Forbes believes will become even more apparent in the next-generation consoles set to launch ahead of the holidays this year.
“It’s true that we only have extremely limited information about Microsoft’s next console, and there are still questions about Sony ‘s PS4, but a narrative is starting to emerge,” Forbes contributor Paul Tassi recently wrote. “Sony is going to have a laserlike focus on games this time around, while Microsoft wants to create a device that everyone, gamers and non-gamers alike, will want to have in their living rooms.”
Microsoft has made home entertainment a huge focus for the Xbox 360 in recent years, and the next-generation Xbox is shaping up to carry that mission forward. Recent rumors suggest that the new Xbox will even feature deep set-top box integration to completely take over the television watching experience.
The PlayStation 4, on the other hand, looks as though it will be a gaming powerhouse through and through. Sony will undoubtedly include some entertainment features as it did on the PlayStation 3, but gaming will still be the system’s core pitch to potential buyers.
“It seems like [the next Xbox and the PlayStation 4] may end up being fundamentally different machines that fill specific roles in the technology sector, rather than completely overlapping each other like they did last generation,” Tassi concludes.