There seems to be a lot of hoopla surrounding a recently published GamePro article, PS3 vs. Xbox 360 ports: The cold, hard truth that compares four recently released cross-platform games. The article concludes that among the four games “PlayStation 3 beats the Xbox 360 handily“.
For me the draw of achievement for their replay value and having a standardized and well integrated online experience are huge selling points for me to get a game on the 360 over another platform. I would even go so far as to suffer inferior graphics and sound for the benefits to replay value and ease of use that achievements and Xbox Live offer. So at least in my opinion a Playstation 3 title would have to do something quite spectacular to draw my purchase over the same title on the Xbox 360. The article piqued my interest because I was curious exactly what the Playstation 3 offered that would make these games stand out so head and shoulders above their Xbox 360 counterparts.
After reading the article I was left scratching my head. It seemed to me that the arguments presented in the article didn’t at all match the heavily reported conclusion at the end. Not only did the article not support it’s final claim that the PS3 titles were the superior lot, but the arguments for the PS3 version were on a whole very weak, and based almost entirely on minor and inconsequential factors.
Most of the comments I’ve read from those who were to lazy to read the article themselves assumed that the PS3 was started to eek out superior graphics to the 360, unfortunately that’s not the case. According to the actual article only two of the four games had a noticeable difference in graphics and with both of those game the journalist noted that the Xbox 360 version had the advantage (albeit slight) over their PS3 counterparts.
If there was no real difference in graphics then what was the difference you might ask? Apparently DMC4 was a “clear winner” on PS3 because they thought the controller layout was better… yup, according to GamePro the face buttons on the PS3 controller were easier to hit than the 360 controller. I don’t know how that’s possible really, and personally I don’t care what the journalist says about the controllers I find the PS controller design to be incredibly uncomfortable no matter what game I’m playing.
COD4 was “better on PS3″ because of “dedicated servers” which is untrue, COD4 does not have dedicated servers on PS3, this was such a important point to the article that they even made some huge graphics to hit the point home that the 360 sucks because it didn’t have dedicated servers.
Both COD4 and Burnout revenge were “better on PS3″ because the match making interface was slightly faster and easier to use. Really? is that a worth while selling point? I can see how some x-plat games will have a more streamlined online interface on non-360 platforms because the developers can roll their own, but the 360 is standardized and better than average across the board which, in my opinion, is much better than having a few good online interfaces and a lot of crappy ones. Not to mention, if I’m buying a game based on multiplayer, I’m going to buy the one for the platform that all of my friends own (playing with strangers is overrated), and right now, none of my friends own PS3s.
Most troubling is that, the article completely neglected what I consider to be the two most influential factors when making the decision of which console to buy the game for, Achievements and Xbox Live. Apparently I wasn’t the only one who picked up this gross oversight as Microsoft themselves released a statement in rebuttal.
For multiplatform console owners, Achievements and Gamerscore have to be listed as an influencing factor to purchase the Xbox 360 version,” said Penello in an email to GamePro on Tuesday. “Their success and popularity is undeniable.
Of course GamePro responded to this defending their position:
This feature isn’t about which platform is better, but which version of these four games is better. Achievements, rumble, and Xbox Live are specific to the console, not in-game features. This is why I used graphics, loading times, controls, and online integration as the criteria.
So apparently achievements aren’t in-game features anymore, that’s news to me. While they are integrated with the console and the Live service itself they are still, at their core, features of the game. There is no reason developers could not have added a similar feature on the PS3 counterpart to help boost the replay value. Sony even has a trophy system that will be integrated with home that offers a similar benefit to achievements but again none of the developers opted to use it.
Part of why those features are so important and so popular on the 360 is that they’re supported across the board, when you buy a 360 games, no matter what it is you know for certain that there are achievements to earn, and that it will have Xbox Live integration. There is no reason the PS3 can’t do the same thing except they opt not to and why that shouldn’t be taken into consideration when comparing cross-platform titles is beyond me.
On a whole after reading the article the impression I got was that the author knew what he wanted for the outcome and then wrote the article to support his desired result. I think the PS3 is a capable platform but I think it’s benefits are continually squandered by short sighted development. People continually question what makes a game “next gen” and since the release of the 360 I’ve held strong that it’s a tight integration with the console and a high level of standardization across all games for the platform. Next Gen to me is Achievements, it’s knowing that all games will be released with a list of important features standard, and an online service that builds a community beyond the console itself.
Ignoring the importance of these features and condoning the efforts of developers who neglect to incorporate them into non 360 releases does not do the industry any favors. I want developers to give a good reason to buy a PS3 title over a 360 title and I certainly don’t appreciate journalists who write fanboy articles with the intent to quell buyer’s remorse.