PS4 vs. Xbox One Part 1: The History Of The Console Wars

In this corner… weighing in at just over $500 USD is the latest videogame juggernaut from Sony… the Playstation 4 (PS4).

The Playstation, originally introduced in 1994, was originally designed to be a CD-drive for Nintendo’s second-generation of console, the Super NES.  However, Nintendo decided that they would go with Phillips for their CD-ROM technology.  This resulted in Sony becoming a rival to Nintendo instead of a partner.  The next generation of this console, the logically-named Playstation 2 was released in 2000, along with a smaller, more streamlined version of the original, called the PSone.  The PS2 would go on to become the best selling console of all time.  Keeping to their release structure and naming pattern, the Playstation 3 was released in 2006.  In 2013, the most recent iteration of the behemoth, the Playstation 4 was released in time for Christmas.   Inside the box is the PS4 console, one Dual-shock 4 wireless controller, an HDMI cable, a power cable, a wired mono headset and a USB charging cable for the controller. 

In this corner, weighing in at just under $500 USD is the latest from console upstart Microsoft, the Xbox 1.


Microsoft became the first American company to release a game console since the Atari Jaguar when it introduced the Xbox in 2001 to compete against the PS2.  The next console, in what is maybe the most illogical numbering system since the Rambo movies, introduced the Xbox 360, was released in 2005, a year before their rival would introduce the PS3.  I can’t help but wonder what happened to the Xbox 2 through Xbox 359.  The most recent entry in the series, the increasingly illogically numbered Xbox 1 was released concurrently with the PS4 in 2013.  Inside the box is the Xbox 1 console, the Kinect sensor for motion-controlled play, one wireless controller, a wired chat headset, an HDMI cable and a power cable. 

The two companies have been rivals since the release of the original Xbox and the PS2, with Playstation consistently coming out the sales winner overall in Japan, with the Xbox leading sales in the U. S.  Part of the reason for this is because the Playstation series is traditionally a smaller console, fitting better into the postage-stamp sized apartments available in Japanese cities, especially the PS2 VS the original Xbox.  One place where the Playstation is the clear winner is in the drive.  Microsoft backed the almost still-born horse of the HD-DVD format that was released in 2006, while Sony owned their own high-def DVD technology, Blu-Ray.  The HD-DVD player stopped production in 2008, kind of leaving Xbox Elite owners (a console with a built-in HD-DVD drive) in the lurch.  The format battle has been compared to the battle in the seventies between JVC’s VHS technology and Sony’s Betamax.  And there is a definite similarity.  In both battles, the deciding factor was whomever could bank the highest sales.  For videotape, that driver was adult entertainment.  Sony decided that they did not want X-rated movies released in their format, which was ultimately the undoing for the technology in homes, although it was still widely used by professionals until the introduction of digital.  In the High-def format battle, though, adult entertainment was no longer a factor, since most of that was delivered by computer at that time.  Instead, and on the complete other end of the spectrum, the sales driver for the new formats was children’s entertainment.  Sony took the right path this time, though, locking kid monolith Disney into an exclusive contract. The ultimate result of this is that Microsoft found itself in the position of having to lease Blu-Ray technology from their rival for their console if they wanted to be able to offer the latest entertainment choices.

Next, we’ll get all techie on the two consoles and dig into what makes them tick.

Randal Schaffer

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