PS4 vs Xbox One: which is better?

Sony PlayStation 4 sells 22 million, but Microsoft has backward compatibility

When it comes to apps Xbox One is in the ever so slight lead
When it comes to apps, Xbox One is in the ever-so-slight lead

Xbox One vs PS4 apps

The Xbox 360 and PS3 proved to be more than just gaming machines and Xbox One and PS4 are no different. Of course, most are shared across both platforms.

All next-gen gamers have access to Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Hulu Plus, Crackle, Vudu and Redbox Instant and baseball subscription service MLB.TV.

Xbox One corners the app-filled market with ESPN, Fox Now, FX Now, NFL, Ted, The CW, Twitch, Univision Deportes, Verizon FiOS TV and YouTube. It also has Microsoft's own soon-to-be-defunct Internet Explorer, OneDrive, Skype and Xbox Music and Xbox Video services.

That contrasts with PS4. Sony's console features Crunchyroll, Epix, NBA Game Time, NHL GameCenter Live, YuppTV, the WWE Network and the free music video playing app VidZone.

Initially, Xbox One had first access to HBO Go before PS4, but now both consoles have the premium channel as an app. At least, if your cable provider isn't Comcast. Neither system has HBO Now, which remains exclusive to Apple TV.

More niche apps are expected as time goes on, so this is hardly the final list of apps for Xbox One and PS4. Sony backers who are also HBO subscriptions can expect equal next-generation treatment for the the premium on-demand network "eventually," which just cements Xbox One's app-filled advantage.

Are PS4 and Xbox One backward compatible?

This is where the Xbox One vs PS4 comparison has gotten interesting at E3 2015. After teasing Xbox 360 emulation, Microsoft announced Xbox One backward compatibility for Xbox 360 games.

"We won't charge you to play the games you already own," jabbed Microsoft at Sony during its E3 press conference. Over 100 disc and downloadable Xbox 360 titles will work on Xbox One this year, and the features of the newer console - like streaming and taking screenshots - crosses over to older games.

Microsoft plans to launch Xbox One backward compatibility this holiday with an early preview for Xbox Preview members starting today. It'll expand its free backward compatibility program to "hundreds" of games in 2016 and beyond. It won't be long until you can box up that old Xbox 360.

Sony's PlayStation Now service, meanwhile, launch last year and graduated from open beta to full release in March, but it costs money to rent games. That's a bummer if you already paid for The Last of Us, God of War: Ascension, Dead Space 3 and Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes on the PS4.

Sony has expanded its Gaikai-based video game streaming service to PS Vita and PlayStation TV, with plans to add even Bravia TVs, and then include PlayStation and PS2 to the so far PS3-only lineup.

None of these options are foolproof yet. That means you'll need to keep your Xbox 360 and PS3 in order to replay Halo 4 and Uncharted 3. You can't sell the old systems, and that means people won't be able to readily buy them - they're more likely to purchase them directly from Microsoft and Sony.

Other PS4 and Xbox One differences

The look of the console, the feel of the controller and the appeal of the games list are the main differences from which consumers will decide on PS4 and Xbox One.

However, there are other factors at play one should consider before buying into a new system. It's a good idea to converse with friends, keeping mind of their potential bias.

Since there's no such thing as cross-platform multiplayer, you may be split up when playing Call of Duty on PS4 when all of your friends own it for Xbox One.

Both Microsoft and Sony are charging for multiplayer this console generation, whereas PS3 gamers got to log into matches Scott-Free.

Sony sadly moved closer to Microsoft in this way, while Microsoft moved closer to Sony by tearing down the Xbox Live app paywall. You no longer have to subscribe to stream Netflix and other apps.

Microsoft also supports MP3 and DLNA playback with the Xbox One, whereas Sony neglected to add such compatibility. It's promised to rectify that in a future firmware update, but hasn't supplied us with an update in several months.

The PS4 vs Xbox One comparison has evolved in the last 18 months, mostly because Microsoft's plans have shifted, from Xbox One price drops to more lenient paywall policies to graphics specs upgrades.

These two next-generation consoles are now on a more even video game playing field, which means Sony and Microsoft are going to start throwing Uncharted 4 to Halo 5 Guardians at you, and that's a win for all gamers.

The expert views

Keza MacDonald - Editor, Kotaku UK

For me it comes down to the variety of games, and PS4 has that sewn up right now. You can play all the biggest games on both consoles, but if your tastes are eclectic, Sony's indie and in-house lineup is irresistible.

Matt Hill - Editor, Gizmodo UK

PS4 for me. The majority of multi-platform games run better on it, the PS Plus subscription service serves up a stream of good, cheap games – even better if you also have Vita and PS3 – and it looks nicer in the living room. Is that a valid reason? Damn straight it is.

Sophia Tong - Global Editor in Chief, GamesRadar

I have both because I like having options and access to everything (I even own a Wii U). For me it's about the games, but if I had to choose I do like the Xbox One's interface more because I can bark commands at it.

Hugh Langley - UK News Editor, TechRadar

It has to be the PS4 right now. Between PlayStation Plus, PS Now, Vita cross-play, and the promise of Morpheus, the whole PlayStation ecosystem feels like it's growing into something truly terrific. That said, don't get comfortable, Sony - the Xbox One is definitely beginning to close the gap.

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