First Mover Advantage – Part II

Yesterday our new writer Kris opened his views to the world of TSA. Today he concludes his thoughts for all of you to agree on, or just find out where he lives and hunt him down. It’s your choice. Part I can be read here.

Motion Controller

The motion controller, the piece of technology for which this site is named. Did Sony steal it from Nintendo? No, of course they didn’t. There’s a very clear and distinct difference between the way the controllers are used for starters. However what probably is accurate to say is that once again Sony adapted and grew in the wake of Nintendo’s announcement. They had 8 months in which to develop the technology, and statements from Incognito Games seem to confirm that the technology wasn’t ready until the last minute. Again Sony’s ability to adapt and learn from their competitors game to the forefront and they managed to pull together the tech and show their response off at the next E3. An achievement in anyone’s books.

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Online

And now to the much debated online services. This is certainly where Sony are playing catch-up, and pretty much always will be. Unless Sony do some significant poaching Microsoft are always going to have better network code, it’s a core area of their businesses. By the same token Sony are always going to have better audio and visual output, they’ve simply been doing it for longer and have the staff with the skills. Microsoft have also had an entire generation with a service that was at the core of the console to develop features, whereas Sony’s online offering was lacklustre at best. Sony have certainly been working to correct that this generation, and the PSN is a far more robust offering than the’network’ service that was available for the PS2. The fact that PSN has integrated the PSP and PS3 into one service is also something worth mentioning, and an area where Microsoft seem to have learnt from Sony with the announcement of the Zune video store. However Microsoft already had a strong base to build upon this generation and it seems that in general their service is going to stay ahead of the PSN. Part of this is the constraints that Microsoft have put on developers, telling them that games must support features of the service, whereas Sony seem to make everything far more optional. Features like cross-game chat and the party system need to make their way to the PSN if it really is to compete on an even footing with Xbox Live. Yes the PS3 has a web browser, and that is something I’d like to see arrive on Xbox Live, but the coming integration of features such as Twitter, Facebook and Sky (regardless of the price) start to leave the PS3 behind. And that’s without mentioning the Primetime feature that has debuted with 1 vs. 100 to, generally, rave reviews.

I’ll very briefly touch on Home here, because it’s not something I’ve ever experienced, although I have read a fair amount about it. The online community is still in its infancy, but does seem to be transforming into something genuinely amazing. Hopefully the support that EA has given it will make other publishers and developers see the benefits of the service and will let it grow into something amazing. Would I like to see something similar appear on the 360? I really would, but I can’t see how it’s possible without making a direct clone. Maybe if Home takes off then it’ll be Xbox Live that trails, and the PSN that has the lead. However I don’t see that happening any time soon.

RRoD/YLoD

Ok finally let’s talk about failure rates. I can hear you screaming again. That is you right? Not the kid you have locked in the basement? Good. “But Kris, the yellow light of death isn’t nearly as bad as the red ring.” I know it’s not, the failure rate on Xbox 360s has been estimated as being as high as 68% according to some sources. That really is unacceptable, and the way that Microsoft originally underplayed the problem with their system has only made the situation worse. Sony may not be doing the same thing, but they certainly are offering little support for people who suffer from hardware failure. Microsoft only changed their attitude after several class-action lawsuits were brought against them. If Sony end up in the same situation then it only makes them look bad and costs them a lot of money. However if they were to give an extended warranty for problems that present with the flashing yellow light (assuming that it is only indicative of one particular problem) it may cost them some money, but significantly less than having to fight or settle a lawsuit, it makes them look like the good guys and it buys them a lot of consumer loyalty. It’s simply a question of whether avoiding lawsuits and looking good is worth more than hoping they don’t get sued. In my opinion it is and this really is one area where Sony can learn from Microsoft’s mistakes, rather than from their successes.

Conclusion

Well I hope you’ve enjoyed the meander through the similarities of both consoles, and that you’ve really got the point that I’ve been trying to make. “What was it” I hear you ask? Sony and Microsoft, and even Nintendo, may be different companies with different development cycles, but ultimately everything is a feedback loop. The games industry feeds back into itself and if something makes an appearance on one console and looks strong then other manufacturers will pick it up and bring it in. At the speed the games industry moves there really is no ‘best’ console. If one console is ahead it’s unlikely to be long before someone else comes out with an innovative feature, or integrates an existing one that pushes them ahead. So why not all just get along? After all we’re all driving each other foward.

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