The PlayStation 4 has arrived in the US, drawing crowds to midnight sales events that saw fans camping for days to make sure they were one of the first to receive Sony’s next generation console.
With the Xbox One launch coming on November 22nd, this will easily go down as one of the biggest months in industry history.
It’s been six years since the PlayStation 3 hit store shelves and sold out almost immediately, prompting a wave of mainstream media coverage – especially when fans began coming to blows over the last remaining units.
Hopefully Sony will have better supplies this launch so the press can focus on the changes the PS4 and its rival console promise to the millions of households worldwide with a gaming console.
Speaking to fans gathered outside a few opening events, it became obvious that core gaming is still quite healthy – and driven by a good deal of brand loyalty.
When asked why they were going with the PS4 as opposed the the Xbox One, the crowd replied simply, "Because it’s better."
Doubtless those in line to buy Xbox One will say the same next week.
While issues like constant connectivity, social sharing features, anti-used policies, and the potential security risk posed by motion control cameras have dominated headlines around the two consoles prior to release, the crowd was either entirely uninformed or simply not interested in the apparent controversy.
They just wanted the new PlayStation.
The last generation saw the rise of multiplayer games from a novelty to the dominant force in the mainstream industry. Both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 continue this trend, but Sony’s console is placing a bigger premium on social network features and has included a button dedicated to the task.
With the rise of multiplayer came an increased assumption that players had a steady broadband internet connection, and while Microsoft has drawn more fire for its aggressive stance on this issue, it should be noted that the main new features of the PS4 place equal emphasis on an internet connection.
With consoles now in the majority of US households, the diversity of entertainment options available are more important than ever; the long-term winner of the console race could easily go to whichever platform holder best embraces that.
Gone are the days in which a console was used mainly for games, and this means the industry is now competing for consumer’s leisure hours against other entertainment media.
It could be some time before the trends that will dominate the new console generation become apparent. The PlayStation 4 might offer social sharing, but that doesn’t guarantee user adoption.
For now, those without can see the console unboxed by the staff at NPR, proof both that gaming is gaining real mainstream acceptance and that Americans do after all have a sense of irony.