The dust has settled on E3, and the upcoming generation of consoles are taking shape. In one of the most important shows in years, Microsoft and Sony not only unveiled hardware, but they also laid out competing visions of the future.
One vision is of an interconnected world, where the console is the all-in-one entertainment device. The other focuses on doing everything to advance the video game art form further. The billion-dollar question: Which system will inherit the gaming landscape? That's hard to say after an E3 where I got good impressions of both systems, but was left with unanswered questions.
I spent time with the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, and both have their strengths and weaknesses. Microsoft's system faces an uphill battle. The U.S. company has stumbled with the Xbox One's need to be connected to the Internet once a day, and its convoluted used and borrowed game policy. The decision to make the system reliant on the Internet has created some unnecessary complications for gamers.
On the bright side, the Xbox One's TV content is more forward-thinking than the PS4's entertainment features. Microsoft's console also boasts the better controller. The redesigned device doesn't mess up a great design and adds smart features such as force feedback tied to the triggers.
The biggest obstacle facing the Xbox One is its price for the November launch. At $499, Microsoft is asking a lot of consumers, especially when the PS4 is $100 less.
And that leads me back to Sony, which did just about everything right at E3. The Japanese company focused on the gamers and developers, hearing what they wanted and making good on those requests with the PlayStation 4. Like the Xbox One, the system runs off PC architecture, making it easier to program for. It plays used games on discs and can run without an Internet connection.
Looking at their technical specs, the horsepower behind the two consoles is not drastically different. They'll both push visuals that will impress audiences and blur the lines further between a Pixar cartoon and a video game. They should be indistinguishable now. The downside to both systems is that they won't directly support backward compatibility, so that means players have to keep their Xbox 360 and PS3 to play their library.
So it's all down to games. From what I've seen, the Xbox One has a strong lineup at launch with "Titanfall" and "Forza Motorsports 5," but with its support from indie and first-party developers who are making "Transistor" and "Killzone Shadow Fall" respectively, the PS4 seems better poised to be in the game for the long haul.
Read more about E3 on Gieson Cacho's blog at http://blogs.mercurynews.com/aei/category/video-games