Gaming sites and magazines are already talking about the next generation Playstation 4 (PS4) and Xbox 720. Even though these names aren’t set in stone, we all know what systems they are talking about. Sony has made a lot of mistakes with the PS3 that will need to be fixed if I’m going to get a PS4. I own both the Xbox 360, since launch, and the PS3, a year after launch. I’ve seen many updates between both systems. I’ve seen new exclusive games come out that have kept people tied to their favorite console. I’ve even had to deal with the mistakes made with both systems. But after all this, I still favor the Xbox 360 much more than the PS3. Let me review what Sony needs to work on to make the PS4 work for me and probably many other gaming enthusiasts.

Sony really needs to re-evaluate their hardware design. They split their system memory on the PS3 with 256MB for the system and 256MB for video. Microsoft put 512MB of shared memory in the Xbox 360 and let developers use it how they want. Need more for video and less for system, then go for it. Sony went with a slow Blu-Ray player in the PS3 which requires many of the games to install data to the hard drive to run optimally. Microsoft went with a high-speed DVD player that loads games fast and allowed Microsoft to make a cheaper Arcade system without a hard drive. I know that Blu-Ray stores much more data than a DVD, but since the Xbox 360 was released, 99.9% of the games fit on a single DVD with no loss of game quality. Sony picked the IBM Cell Processor that developers have found challenging to create games on. (You can read more about programming the Cell processor here. ) Microsoft uses a triple-core processor on the Xbox 360 that is more similar to a PC design. It is easy to create a game on the PC and get it ported over to the Xbox 360. It just takes more work to get the same title ported over to the PS3. There are those few Sony coached studios that do excellent work on their titles like Killzone 3, Uncharted 3, and StarHawk, to make them shine over most other titles. This is the minority when it comes to games. Current rumors state that the PS4 will not be using a Cell processor… good for Sony. Check out the Lens of Truth website where comparisons are done between Xbox 360 and PS3 games.

IBM’s Powerful Cell Processor. Quite a learning curve to put games on it.

Enough of the technical babble. Let’s look at the user side of the PS3. It has a functional interface just like the Xbox 360. I’m not really a fan of either. What gets me with the PS3 are its lack of features. I always tell people that you get what you pay for and the PS3 offers free online play. This gets you 16 player text chat, party voice chat outside of games, software updates that take forever to download and need to be installed like a PC, and a lack of multiple profiles being logged in at the same time for co-op play, and still getting your trophies and experience. You can pay $50 a year for Playstation Plus with automatic updates, but it doesn’t do you any good if you just brought a brand new game home to play.

The PS3’s cross media bar

Microsoft’s Xbox 360 dashboard

I just bought StarHawk for the PS3. I got it the day it was released. I was also off that day painting a room in the house, so I figured I could get it installed and my son could play it. It requires 2.5GB of hard drive space, so I knew that it would take a few minutes for that to install. What I didn’t know is that I would be waiting 3 ¼ hours before I could even start up the game. There was the system update that was on the disk which took 15 minutes to install. Then there was the Collector’s edition DLC that took another 30 minutes to install. After that, the game started and said that there was a patch which was 450MBs. I’ve got a 25MB download connection, so I figured that would be quick… not so, it took over two hours to download that patch. Finally, the rest of the time was the 2.5GB game install to the hard drive. This was started at 1:00pm EST, so I knew that it wasn’t because everyone was downloading this at the same time. It was still early on release day and kids are in school. (Just in case you are wondering, my son is home-schooled, so that explains why he was there.) What would I be dealing with if I bought all my games for the PS3? On the other side, I downloaded the Ghost Recon beta on my 360 in 35 minutes and it was 1.35 GBs in size. I was able to play it right after it downloaded. Both of my systems are on the wireless network in the same room. I blame this on Sony!

I paid $40 bucks for my Xbox Live last year. You can always find a deal somewhere. I get 8 player party chat, no matter what game you are in. My son talks with his friends while playing and they can each be in different games. System updates may take 10 minutes and most game patches are loaded in just a few minutes. I can play a coop game with my son on the same Xbox and we both get experience and our achievements. And online play is mostly consistent between games because Microsoft provides the back-end system tools for player lobbies, host connections, ranking, clans, and voice communications. Sony leaves this up to each developer to create. I’d be willing to pay Sony for online play if they could make it work like Xbox Live. Maybe the will figure it out for the PS4.

Lastly, Sony needs to come up with better exclusive games. Because of the above online reasons, I buy most games on the Xbox 360 and only buy exclusives for the PS3. I’m mainly an FPS (First Person Shooter) game player, so I’ve owned, or still own, all the exclusive shooters that have come out for the PS3. I’ve also traded in many of these games because the player base just dwindles down to hardly nothing and I end up in games with just a few people on each team. I have to say that Killzone 3 is still a favorite, but it also has bots to play against if I can’t find others online. I just played StarHawk online the other day and only found 29 matches with players… this includes the full matches. If I look at the top 20 Xbox Live online games for this week, Halo 3, Gears of War 3, and Halo Reach still show up on the list as Xbox 360 exclusives and Halo 3 is a 2007 release game. Titles like Call of Duty: Black Ops / Modern Warfare 3 or Battlefield 3 are full of players but I would rather play them on the Xbox 360. Sony needs to do their homework and come up with some excellent exclusive titles that will keep players online for a long time. Just check out Video Game Charts site to see overall US sales for some of the biggest games to come out last year. Gears of War 3 single-handedly beat out Resistance 3, Uncharted 3, Infamous 2, Socom 4, and Motorstorm: Apocalypse combined.

Millions of Game Units Sold

What is left for PS3 players, like me, who have both systems? What is to keep future Playstation owners from jumping ship to the next generation Xbox 720? I worry about bringing home a new game and not being able to play it for a couple of hours because of updates. My son plays Little Big Planet on the PS3 with his friends and they use the Xbox 360 for private chat. We played Twisted Metal and Resistance 3 on the PS3 for a few weeks before tiring of both games and trading them in, yet Halo 3 is still being played in my home with thousands of others online. I may be trading in StarHawk soon if the online community doesn’t pick up.

Sony had a whole year to see what Microsoft was doing with the Xbox 360, before they brought out the PS3, and they still can’t meet all the features that the 360 has to offer. I hope they will take this to heart with the PS4. I want to see a new system. I want to play a next generation Killzone, Socom, or Uncharted. I want to be able to get into a private party with my friends and join an online match. I want to get what I pay for, so Sony needs to charge for the PS4 online service, make hardware that isn’t too different from the norm, and come up with some fantastic exclusive game titles to get it right! For now, I’ll continue to watch Blu-Ray movies with my PS3.