Last Week in our PS3 and Xbox 360 comparison we looked at the differences between the music playback services of the consoles. This included a look at VidZone on the PS3 and LastFm on Xbox 360 as well as looking at the other music playback features on offer.
This week we get to the really good stuff as we compare the PlayStation Store and Xbox equivalents in terms of the content on offer and the way in which it is presented to the user. Both consoles vary quite a bit in this area, so we have lots to get through.
Xbox LIVE Arcade/Demos
The main area of the Xbox Games Marketplace is the Xbox LIVE Arcade, this area is filled with literally thousands of games to choose from although it’s fair to say that a quite a few of them are not worth a second look.
Xbox LIVE Arcade does have quite a few hidden gems in amongst the rough, titles such as Shadow Complex, Peggle, Hexic, Uno, Splosion Man, Trials HD and more recently Toy Soldiers have certainly provided this writer with hours upon hours of fun.
One of the main bonuses to Xbox LIVE Arcade is the fact that every game released comes with a demo, in fact practically every retail game also comes with a demo, which makes choosing the title you want to own a whole lot easier. In fact the only drawback is that you need to be a Gold Member to go online with any game you purchase and furthermore, Gold Members gain access to other benefits and exclusive demos which you may not receive should you not be paying the £40 yearly fee to upgrade.
You can earn achievements in all games downloaded from the Xbox Live Arcade.
Xbox Indie Games
The Indie game section is a fairly new section which allows smaller companies to sell their games on the Xbox 360.
There are some great little games on this service such as Weapons of Choice, Miner Dig Deep and Shoot1Up, unfortunately though these games are not really promoted much on the service, meaning that finding a decent title amongst those available is difficult.
Xbox LIVE Indie games do not support achievements at the moment.
Games On Demand/Classics
One of the big advantages of Xbox LIVE over PSN is the ability to download Classic Xbox games such as Fable, Black and Gran Theft Auto: San Andreas. Although these games do not allow you to earn achievements they are still of high quality and some of them would really make worthy additions to any collection.
Another bonus is the ability to download Games on Demand, this allows users access to some of the older and more popular games such as Fable II, Mass Effect, Assassin’s Creed and Oblivion. Obviously these games do allow you to earn achievements and all of the functions, such as the online modes all work as you would expect.
Overall the Xbox LIVE service for games is of very top quality, there is a fantastic choice on offer and things are priced fairly reasonably. This area is definitely one of the Xbox 360’s strong points and one that any owner of the console should be pleased to have.
The PlayStation Store certainly had a lot of catching up to do when it launched, content to begin with was fairly hit and miss and a lot of fans complained constantly regarding both the quality of titles and the delays which hounded them.
Thankfully the PlayStation Store is practically unrecognisable from the one which launched alongside the PlayStation and now the quality of titles speaks for themselves. In terms of the games on offer, this is one area where the differences between the PS3 and Xbox 360 really show. There are so many quality and original titles on PSN, starting with the excellent Wipeout HD and Warkhawk which are practically full retail games in themselves to the more unique PixelJunk series, Gravity Crash, Flower, Fat Princess and Pain, to name just a few.
If the PS Store lets itself down anywhere it is with the demos, sure this has improved immensely over the past year, however whereas Xbox LIVE has a demo for every game the PS Store is still lacking in this department.
It goes without saying that the PlayStation Store has come into its own and the fact that many of the games have received awards for their originality speaks volumes for the service.
Since all games are now required to have trophies, any game you purchase from the PlayStation Store (with the exception of Minis and PSOne Classics) support this service.
One of the unique aspects of the store is the ability to download full PSP games straight to your PS3, before transferring them over to your PSP (This can also be done via PSP/MediaGo). This is a brilliant idea and it works extremely well, especially for those who own a PSPGo.
Another unique aspect is the Minis, which also work with the PSP. These are bite sized games which are of very high quality with Blast Off, Rocket Racing and Brainpipe being just a few of the many. Considering that Minis are also playable via PS3 and available for such a small price these are a welcome addition to the PS Store.
Finally, also compatible with the PSP/PS3 are the PSOne Classics, unfortunately there aren’t really too many to choose from, certainly not as many as we would have hoped for, however the titles there are still a welcome addition.
Both the Playstation Store and Xbox LIVE offer different interfaces for finding content both of which vary in style but work equally well.
Xbox LIVE is presented using display boxes, therefore when you first arrive on Games Marketplace you can search by New Arrivals, Top Downloads and Top Rated Games, as well as being shown the games which Xbox have highlighted themselves. If you want to dig a bit deeper then you can search through the various sub menus such as Arcade, Game Add Ons and Games On Demand to name a few. Going further into these menus you can search between Genre and A-Z if you are looking for a particular game.
The PlayStation Store is very simple in its presentation, once you click on the icon you are brought into the main menu, on the left hand side you are presented with various options such as the Latest games, All Games A-Z, Games Add-Ons and PSP games and Minis as well as a few other options. Selecting any of these will bring you to a very easy to use interface which makes finding what you are looking for very simple indeed.
As you can see from what we have described above, it would be very difficult to say one service is much better than the other. When the PlayStation Store launched it was well behind its Xbox counterpart, however with the quality of games and general improvements to the service it is now very much the equal of the Xbox 360 Games Marketplace.
In the end it all comes down to preference really, like I say both services have an excellent choice and also have some fantastic exclusives, however the difference in style between both the games and presentation of Games Marketplace and the PlayStation Store is there for all to see.