In the run-up to the Christmas skirmish in 2013’s console wars both Microsoft and Sony will be vaunting and flaunting their consoles in every medium possible. Howver, the latest videos for the Xbox One and PS4 are more than just boosterism, with both ads outlining the companies’ vision for the future of gaming.
Sony’s offering (“For The Player Since 1995” - above) goes straight for the emotional gut-punch, showing the development of PlayStation console since its launch in the mid-90s: in one continuous and continuously evolving shot we pan around our gamer’s room and follow a succession of consoles and their associated cultural debris.
There’s the original PlayStation of 1995 (a Parklife poster, copies of NME on the floor, Tekken on the telly), then on to 2000’s PS2 (Kasabian on the wall now and Resident Evil shocks), followed by the PS3 of 2006 (Artic Monkeys, Gran Turismo and Domino’s takeaway) and finally this year’s PS4 (Alt-J in the background, Killzone on the console).
The message is pretty simple: “You’ve known and loved us for years; you probably even grew up with us. Remember all those nice memories? Let’s make some more.” It also plays to the (slightly fictitious) slant on the new consoles that the PS4 is all about gaming.
This isn’t completely untrue, but it’s an interpretation that’s mainly been upheld in marketing because the fans have demanded it – it ignores both the PS4’s extensive multimedia capabilities and the Xbox One’s fairly equivalent line up of titles. Still, you can't deny it's a good pitch.
However, when we head over to the Microsoft side of things it becomes clearer where this difference comes from. In an ad that recalls the enjoyable ‘Jump In’ campaign for the Xbox 360, Microsoft are selling the Xbox One's ‘invitation’ (above).
There’s a mecha from Titanfall beckoning a businessman to take the reins; Steven Gerrad calling one (un)lucky fan down from the stands; and Zachary Quinto’s Spock (with unfortunately unconvincing makeup on the eyebrows) beaming down into an atmospheric train station to promise an unsuspecting bystander adventure.
Here, Microsoft are repeating their original pitch of being the ‘one’ input you need for your living room. “This is an invitation to a new generation,” says the voiceover, “where your games and entertainment are no longer separated but together in one.” It’s a message that was strong during the console’s original unveiling, but toned down somewhat in future releases.
The ad shows the full gamut of the Xbox One’s capabilities: voice commands, video on demand, Skype calls and, of course, games as well; ending with a legion from Ryse storming through some pan-European city and pressganging a coffee-drinking onlooker.
If the PS4’s ad could be described as nostalgic then the Xbox One’s is comparatively futuristic, focusing on the ‘new bits’ of the gaming experience – but perhaps highlighting the features that many customers think get in the way.
Despite these superficial differences though, both consoles are offering a fairly similar proposition and winning customers over from one camp to the other will be difficult. Still, as these adverts show, both Sony and Microsoft will be pulling out all the stops in order to convince the next generation of gamers.