Tablet integration and cloud gaming have been incessantly heralded as the saviors of the Xbox One and PS4.. 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 utilizing 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.
With “game suspension,” you can freeze a game in place, go browse the web, chat with your friends, take a nap, and then immediately jump back to where you were without having to wait to load up a save game. You won’t even have to wait for the game to finish downloading to start playing thanks to the modern digital distribution platforms. Even something as simple as the dashboard UI will be a marked improvement over the incredibly laggy Xbox 360 interface.
The Xbox 360 shipped standard with a headset, 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 in 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.
Next page: Remote play and mandatory hard drives
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