Tablet integration and cloud gaming have been incessantly heralded as the saviours of the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. While they both have a lot of potential to expand the medium, plenty of other important features are slated for the Xbox One and PS4 that haven’t received nearly enough praise.
When it comes down to it, features like built-in video sharing, game suspension, and mandatory hard drives will make much more of a noticeable impact for gamers. Touchscreens and server racks are nice, but there are many more reasons you should be excited for the next-gen consoles.
For months, we’ve heard that the Xbox One and PS4 will feature in-game video sharing, but only recently have more concrete details come to light. Both platforms will automatically record gameplay in the background, but there is apparently a substantial difference in buffer size. Eurogamer is reporting that the Xbox One will only keep five minutes of video in its buffer, but the PS4 will supposedly keep upwards of fifteen minutes.
Regardless of the specific implementation details, the video sharing functionality is going to make a big difference for gamers. With the rise of Twitch game streaming and the explosive growth of “Let’s Play” communities around the web, it’s becoming abundantly clear that console gamers need an easy way to share gameplay videos.
Thankfully, both Sony and Microsoft are playing ball with consumer demands. With dedicated compression chips and share buttons, the new consoles are built from the ground up for social gaming beyond the traditional multiplayer paradigm.
After spending the better part of a decade with some of the most sluggish consoles ever made, speed is clearly at the forefront of everyone’s minds. By utilising a low-power sleep mode, the next-gen consoles will effectively be instant-on machines. With a quick voice command or the push of a power button, you’ll be using your console almost instantly. However, the focus on speed goes deeper than just the boot-up time.
The Xbox 360 shipped with a headset as standard, and so audio chat quickly became a staple of Xbox Live. Unfortunately, the PS3 didn’t come with a headset, so it’s something of a rarity to hear from other players on the PS3. Strangely, the situation is flip-flopped this generation. The PS4 will ship with a wired earpiece, but the Xbox One will rely on the microphone built into the Kinect for voice chat. It remains to be seen if Microsoft will actually be able to deliver in terms of voice quality with the new hardware.
Sony, taking a cue from Microsoft, is also charging for online multiplayer this time around. With any luck, this will also bring important premium features like cross-game chat to the PlayStation Network. Frankly, the PS4 desperately needs a private cross-game group chat feature to stay competitive with Xbox Live. Now that we’re expected to pay to play, Sony can’t simply rest on its laurels.
Sony is no stranger to remote play functionality. The PS3 has a limited ability to connect to the PSP and PS Vita, and stream a small number of full console releases on the go. This generation, Sony is making PS4-to-Vita streaming a fundamental part of its framework, and with few exceptions, all PS4 games will be required to work out of the box on the Vita.
Now that the remote play functionality is being implemented system-wide, the Vita is actually quite a respectable purchase at the £170 price point. For all intents and purposes, the Vita serves as a portable PS4 that can play all of your games provided that you have access to the Internet. Considering that it has a number of excellent exclusive titles available as well, the Vita is much more compelling than the upcoming Nvidia Shield which will launch at $299 (£195) in the US (UK launch details are still to be confirmed).
Mandatory hard drives
When the Xbox 360 first launched with two versions, the cheaper model was sold without a hard drive. It’s nearly eight years later now, and Microsoft is still selling a version of the Xbox 360 with a paltry 4GB of internal storage – not even the size of a single-layer DVD. This leaves game developers unable to reliably depend on access to hard drive space, so we’re stuck with sub-par load times. Thankfully, we won’t have to deal with this problem going forward.
Both the Xbox One and PS4 ship with 500GB internal drives as well as super-fast USB 3.0 ports for easy expansion. Not only can games start expanding in total size with these roomy drives, but developers can now universally take advantage of the faster load times that hard drives offer. With the potential of games shipping on 50GB+ Blu-ray discs, this will make load times much more bearable.
While you’re here, you might also want to read: The Xbox One and PlayStation 4: A number of missed opportunities.
Image Credit: Neil T