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Microsoft needs to do just one more thing to sell me on Xbox One

Published Dec 17th, 2013 2:10PM EST
Xbox One Versus PlayStation 4 Analysis

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It’s been weeks since the release of both the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One and I admit that I’m still torn over which one to buy. And given that sales of both consoles have been in a virtual dead heat so far, I’d wager that a lot of gamers are feeling conflicted as well.

It wasn’t always this difficult for me. Back when Microsoft was committing its inexplicably boneheaded PR blunders by restricting used game sales and requiring once-a-day Internet connectivity to play games, I thought for certain that I would be getting a PS4. Now that Microsoft has done an admirable job of listening to its customers and has scrapped most of its controversial policies, the Xbox One is starting to look very appealing to me, even with the $100 premium that I’ll have to pay for the Kinect.

The reason is that I use my gaming console for a lot more than just playing games — it’s basically my family’s home entertainment hub that we use to watch Netflix, Hulu and other video services. This is an area where Microsoft has put a lot more effort into building a stronger ecosystem than Sony has, since the Xbox One has apps for HBO Go and the NFL so far while the PS4 does not.

And if Microsoft could ever use its significant financial clout to, say, convince HBO to let Xbox Live subscribers watch HBO shows without a cable subscription then I think the Xbox One could become the all-in-one entertainment powerhouse that cord cutters have been dreaming of.

There’s also an element of comfort: I’ve used the Xbox 360 game controller for the past six years and I’ve generally found it to be more intuitive than the PlayStation controller. Couple this with my overall familiarity with the Xbox’s user interface and I have to admit that I’m loath to switch to another console at this point.

So what’s holding me back? Honestly, I don’t want to let go of the last generation of games. Skyrim, Grand Theft Auto V and the Mass Effect series are all terrific games with amazing replay value that I don’t want to just toss away when I buy a new console. Sony has announced definitive plans to let gamers play old PS3 games over the cloud on the PS4 but Microsoft so far has not. We’ve had some tantalizing hints about Microsoft possibly building a similar cloud-based gaming service of its own but so far it hasn’t announced any concrete details.

And this is the one thing that’s still keeping me on the fence when it comes to deciding between buying an Xbox One and a PlayStation 4. If Microsoft announces a cloud-based backward compatibility feature within the next year or so, then it will have a customer. If not then I might still go with the PlayStation 4.

Brad Reed
Brad Reed Staff Writer

Brad Reed has written about technology for over eight years at and Network World. Prior to that, he wrote freelance stories for political publications such as AlterNet and the American Prospect. He has a Master's Degree in Business and Economics Journalism from Boston University.