Both Sony (NYSE:SNE) and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) are looking to social media engagement as the next big trend in gaming. With a built-in Share button on the PS4 DUALSHOCK 4 controller and Facebook and YouTube connectivity coming in 2014 to the Xbox One, it’s easy to see how these features will have a big impact on the gaming community. What’s not so easy to see is which system, Xbox One or PS4, is implementing the idea better.
Let’s take a look at the overall approach from each company. The Xbox One is being touted as an all-in-one device for media consumption, including gaming, video chat and live TV. Microsoft wants to put an Xbox One in every living room and sees it as a device that every member of the family can use. The PS4, on the other hand, is more of a traditional gaming console marketed to the hardcore fan as opposed to family entertainment. Sony is staying the path that has made the Playstation name successful, but Microsoft is diverging a bit into relatively uncharted territory, just as Nintendo did years ago.
Both the Xbox One and the PS4 have costs associated with their online functionality, but those costs don’t spill over into the social aspects of either system. However, some functions might be limited without the subscriptions that Sony and Microsoft offer independently, Playstation Plus and Xbox Live respectively. Sony states that you can get a free PSN account allowing you to message other PSN friends, but you’ll need Playstation Plus to play with them online. The same goes with Xbox One, but that has been Microsoft’s standard for years whereas this is a new policy for Sony.
So what can you share? Both consoles offer the ability to record gameplay and share it to Facebook, but the content differs pretty vastly. Xbox One allows players to shout out “Xbox – Record that!” and a quick 30-second clip is recorded. That clip is extendable up to a five minutes through the Upload Studio where you can add voice over, allowing players to comment on the video. The PS4, however, records up to a whopping 15 minutes of video that you can trim from the beginning or the end of the video. However, players cannot add voiceover to these clips. Additionally, developers may be able to block certain parts of games from being recorded, such as cutting scenes so spoilers don’t leak.
Both systems offer the ability to live-stream gameplay. Whether it is to watch your favorite professional players, learn maps for multiplayer first-person-shooters or brush up on strategies, streaming is a great social tool, and the next-gen devices make it easier for players to contribute to the community. Ustream (PS4) and Twitch (Xbox One) are pretty comparable in offerings, but there is some controversy as to which service is more reliable, citing spotty video and low quality on Ustream. However, with the big-name integration this may change.
Ultimately, the Xbox One has a clear advantage over the PS4 for social connectivity within the gaming community. Because of its nature as “the all-in-one entertainment system,” Microsoft has positioned it with the ability to watch live TV, Skype and do many other things all while still being connected to the community-at-large. For example, when a friend wants you to join their multiplayer match on "Call of Duty: Ghosts" or "Battlefield 4," they send you in invite, regardless of the system. However, let’s say you are watching a show on live TV. Because the Xbox One allows you to throughput your TV signal via an HDMI input, you’re never disconnected and you can see that invite appear instantaneously, never missing a game with friends.
Both consoles offer decent social connectivity, bolstering an already steady part of gaming. But, with its always-connected philosophy, Xbox One might be the better device for those gamers that want to share everything they do.