XBox360 or PS3?
December 24, 2007 12:20 PM   Subscribe

Please to give me the pros and cons for XBox360 and PS3.

Now that the PS3 has been out for about a year, how does it compare to the XBox? We'll be buying a console game soon, and have narrowed it down to these two (we're not interested in the Wii). Most articles and AskMe threads I've been able to find on the subject are a year old. So, gamers, which do you prefer? Most of the better games are cross-platform by now, so that's not much of an issue, is it? Is overheating really that much of a problem with the XBox? What about other mechanical concerns? Are the graphics capabilities fairly comparable? We do not have HDTV, but we do have a 6.1 surround system that supports DTS. Our interests in games spans pretty much all genres.

posted by Koko to Technology (20 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Well, depending on who you ask, not all the best games are cross-platform. An awful lot of my 360 favorites - Gears of War, Mass Effect, Bioshock - simply aren't on the PS3 at all. And I don't have access to Everyday Shooter or Uncharted, and I'll probably never get to play Littlebigworld. There are fewer exclusives than there used to be, but there's still no shortage of them - particularly among a lot of this year's best games.

The Xbox's failure problems are... well, infamous. I think the latest batches are a lot better, though. Overheating hasn't been a problem with mine.

Graphics capabilities are basically comparable, especially if you don't have an HDTV. The PS3's probably a better from a potential standpoint, but it's highly dependent on the games; right now, I consider them pretty much equal.

I had no hesitation about picking the 360, mainly because its exclusives comprise a lot of the games I was most eager to get hold of, and I don't regret that choice at all. (There's also the fact that the 360's still cheaper, and was even more so when I bought it, and most of my friends have 360s, and gaming online with them was a big deal.) I'd recommend it over the PS3 - but not such that if you got a Sony machine, I'd think you were stupid for doing so.
posted by Tomorrowful at 12:28 PM on December 24, 2007

IMO the only pros and cons are the games and the price. If you can play fun games on it, then it's a good console. If it's expensive that's a strike against it. It doesn't matter if it has all kinds of fancy pants hardware, if it's not fun.

I disagree that most of the better games are cross-platform. Bioshock, Gears of War, Halo, and Mass Effect are four very highly regarded games which are not on the PS3.

Plus there's all the XBL Arcade games. There's some PS3 download site but I don't think it's getting the developer support that XB is.

I am not a microsoft fanboy - if you hadn't precluded it I would advise to get a Wii! :D
posted by aubilenon at 12:32 PM on December 24, 2007

This link might be good.

I have a 360, and I love it. But from what I understand, the PS3 includes things that are extra on the 360, such as wireless capability. Also, the PS3 will play Blu-Ray DVDs out of the box. The 360 will play regular DVDs and upsample them, but if you want true High Def DVDs on the 360 you need to buy the optional HD-DVD player.

As Tomorrowful says, the real tipping point will probably be which games you want.
posted by The Deej at 12:32 PM on December 24, 2007

You should think about the games you are playing. I was debating because PS3 has Grand Turismo, but Xbox has Halo. In the end Halo won out, and I think it was the right decision.
posted by ruwan at 12:37 PM on December 24, 2007

Another thing to take into consideration is the hard drive. Xbox 360 comes in three models - no HDD, 20GB HDD (which could conceivably fill up FAST), and Elite (120GB HDD). To upgrade, you can only use Microsoft's HDD product. A Playstation 3 will allow you to use whatever HDD brand that's compatible.

As far as overheating is concerned, all Xbox 360s have three-year coverage beyond (concurrent to) the original warranty's protections.

When it comes to games, what are you interested in? As has been mentioned, some games won't be multiplatform, though exclusives have dropped in number. Do you care more about BioShock or Metal Gear Solid, for example?

Also, are you into online gaming? Xbox is currently winning that war with its LIVE service, though the PSN (Playstation Network) is growing, and provides much of the same services Microsoft charges $50 a year for for free. The new Home service is scheduled to debut in the spring.
posted by cmgonzalez at 12:58 PM on December 24, 2007

The Deej is correct, re: comparing specific specs. The 360's price is quite a bit lower in part because it doesn't include a Wifi adapter or the HD-DVD player in the initial package. PS3 has both (Blu-Ray, of course) in the base model.

Personally, I think that was a smart move for MicroSoft, since it allows them more flexibility and the lower price makes a big difference in public appearance. It would also allow them to make a Blu-Ray unit that plugs into the 360, should that format win the "war".

But all that's moot, really -- it's a game platform and the games you most desire should make your choice for you. The 360 has a large library including some excellent exclusives like Halo, Mass Effect, Bioshock -- possibly three of the top five games of the year. The PS3 will have an excellent library eventually, but development has been slow and the more robust capabilities of the PS3 seem to be difficult to program for...

I have a 360, but I'm a big Halo fan, so it was an easy choice. The hardware problems were widespread (and not over, certainly), but a lot has been done in more recent manufacturing runs to try to correct the heat management. See this link for a guide to making sure that the 360 you choose has the latest chipset, would should be much more reliable, if you decide to go the Xbox route.

Good luck!
posted by Pantengliopoli at 1:00 PM on December 24, 2007

At the risk of thread-jacking, I'd ask responders to also address the consoles' ability to connect to a home network, play media content directly from their hard drives, and stream from another PC on the network.

I'm in the same quandary as the OP regarding games, (all the good games right now seem to be on the XBox, but sooner or later, Final Fantasy 13's going to come out...) but I'm also going to be looking at the next console I get to finally bridge that home office to living room gap and let me play downloaded video, my mp3 collection and display the in-laws' vacation photos on my TV.
posted by Naberius at 1:28 PM on December 24, 2007

I wouldn't be surprised at all if MS manages to get a deal on FF13. It would be a real coup, in the console world...

My 360 is connected to my LAN and, using the Windows Media Extender, we're able to easily access music, pictures and movies (.wmv only, I think) that are stored on our computer upstairs. I haven't used it extensively, but it's pretty painless and easy enough to set up (even with Vista).
posted by Pantengliopoli at 1:31 PM on December 24, 2007

The PS3 actually has better graphics capability than the Xbox 360, but it's not 100% clear to me what that's going to be good for. What is already clear is that to develop for the extra capability is orders of magnitude more expensive, and it doesn't always make for a better game - a couple of the ultra-realistic PS3 games have so far been multi-million-dollar flops.

In other words, if a player is going to run through an area in 3 seconds, does it matter whether texture artists spent 10 paid hours or 100 paid hours generating the highest-possible-quality textures for that area? Yes, it does, because the latter game isn't going to get made.

I'm still sort of waiting to see if Metal Gear Solid 4 gets ported to the 360 and what the story will be with vibration in the PS3 controller (not there now but Sony did an about face and said it might be coming back.) That said, the 360 is a mature platform now and there are great games being developed and sold for it right now that are winning all the awards; I don't think anyone except the most die-hard Sony fan could say that the 360 wasn't totally trouncing the PS3 at this point in the game.
posted by ikkyu2 at 2:00 PM on December 24, 2007

I think the latest batches are a lot better, though.

They are, and specifically, the Halo 3 Special Edition of the box has a revamped chip set and cooling features.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:13 PM on December 24, 2007

In terms of overall hardware capability, it looks like they're pretty similar. The PS3 has, in theory, more processor power, but it's very difficult for developers to use. In actual practice, game quality appears to be just about the same either way, and it doesn't look likely to change soon. The development effort in taking advantage of the PS3's bizarre architecture will be extremely expensive, and if they don't get more consoles moving, I don't think most dev houses will be willing to put in the effort. Rather, they'll design for the (relatively) straightforward 360, and do exactly enough engineering to get it running reasonably well on the PS3.

You don't directly care about this, however. What you care about is what games you can play. There are more and better games on the 360, so that's the obvious choice in the here and now. And I don't think there's any likelihood of the PS3 significantly outselling it in this generation; Sony has just too throughly screwed the pooch.

The only real caveat I'd have is this: the 360 runs hot and is very noisy. The PS3 is apparently quiet. I notice the 360 sound when I turn it on, most emphatically, but once the game starts, it fades into the background. I'd prefer a quieter machine for sure, but I would also want games to play, and I haven't seen all that much on the PS3 that's really that interesting.
posted by Malor at 2:33 PM on December 24, 2007

When considering price, do remember that you'll paying for your XBOX LIVE membership monthly if you have any interest in doing anything online -- add 2-3 years of LIVE to the 360's price tag and you'll see the much-argued-about price difference is nearly nonexistent.

The 360 has been out for about twice as long as the PS3 so you're definitely walking into a larger game catalog today with the 360. Bioshock and Gears of War are pretty compelling arguments. However, if you have a good gaming PC you can play these games there as well -- not so with PS3's A-list exclusives (Uncharted, Heavenly Sword, Metal Gear Solid, Final Fantasy, etc). You'll see most of the 360's future games on the PC as well, due to the similarity between the two platforms.

It can be pretty safely said that XBOX LIVE is the superior online experience. As mentioned, the PS3 is getting a huge overhaul in the next few months with "Home", and free can be a pretty strong motivator, but as of today LIVE unquestionably has the larger user base and more mature service. Sony's will get better but I doubt it will take the crown in this generation.

I've only scratched the surface on multimedia stuff myself, but reviews overwhelmingly hand that area to the PS3. Bundled blu-ray drive, UPnP support (a standardized streaming protocol from your computer), and many models have a built-in card reader. In fact, I think the PS3's embracing of standards is one of its biggest strengths -- a user-replaceable internal hard drive (same as a standard computer drive), controllers work by standard usb 2 when wired and standard bluetooth 2 when unplugged, UPnP for streaming, Sony-provided tools to install and boot linux, standard keyboard/mouse support (even for games like Unreal Tournament 3).

I bought the PS3 and I'm very happy with it. Most folks I know bought the 360 and they're very happy with it. I think you'll be good either way.
posted by churl at 2:39 PM on December 24, 2007

I owned all three consoles last gen (PS2, Xbox and GameCube), but this gen, I skipped the PS3 and have no plans to buy one in the immediate future. It has too high an initial cost of ownership, and there just aren't that many games out for the PS3 that aren't out on the 360.

The real problem with the PS3 is that, because of its high cost, the installed base is lowest of all three consoles this gen. That results in a lack of titles for the PS3, because developers don't want to spend millions of dollars making a video game that can't recoup its costs selling to such a small potential audience. In turn, that means that fewer people buy the PS3 because of the lack of titles, then fewer games are released, and the cycle continues. Sony has really blown it with poor management decisions, particularly an initial $600 price point that consumers were highly resistant to, yet Sony was forced to sell it that high because of the costs associated with manufacturing Blu-Ray drives. They took far too long to cut the price, and then they were forced to remove important features in order to do it (hardware backwards compatibility), making the cut seem like less of a value. And their controllers feel flimsy and lightweight, largely because they took out the rumbling from the controllers.

I'm not sure they'll recover this gen.

I don't think it's a bad system or anything... just take a walk down the game aisle and tell me which console has the most compelling titles.

I guess I'd count myself a 360 fanboy, because I love mine. The games are great (and it's been around long enough that there are plenty of sub $30 bargain titles, unlike the PS3), Live Arcade is amazing (love Pac-Man Championship Edition, Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo HD, Every Extra Extend Extreme, Rez HD... and that's barely scratching the surface), almost every major title has a free downloadable demo, and you can even "rent" movies and television shows through it. I haven't used the media streaming too often, but the latest update allows you to watch DiVx AVIs which is pretty sweet.

I think the most telling reason to buy a 360 over a PS3 is this: my friend and I get together every Wednesday night for gaming night. I own a Xbox 360 and he owns a PS3. I would estimate that 75-80% of the time we are at my house, because the 360 just has more fun games to play.
posted by MegoSteve at 2:45 PM on December 24, 2007

The PS3 was produced with the conceit that Sony's audience would be willing to pay whatever it costs to attain their next-gen product. This conceit was based on predictive research that has proven to be less than prophetic. Because of this confidence, Sony had no qualms about incorporating the more expensive Blu-ray technology not as an optional feature of a special edition, but as a component in the standard model. As it turns out, Sony's audience is not as loyal as expected and will not pay "whatever it costs."

Now, I suppose you could wait for the price to drop, but that's going to be awhile. (The last PS3 price drop turned out to be a reduction in price for a model being phased out -- to be replaced by a newer, bigger model at the original price of the earlier.)

I'm not saying the X360 doesn't have its share of issues (red circle of death, over-heating, so on), but the catalog of games and the number of active players in Xbox Live will give you plenty to play right now. Otherwise, your PS3 investment might turn out to be worthwhile, but only after the player base grows (and the games available grow to match).
posted by grabbingsand at 2:59 PM on December 24, 2007

Regarding the consoles' ability to play and stream media I'll comment on the 360. Up until the last month the video streaming/playback on the 360 was pretty useless as it didn't support the most common video codecs. Now it does and it works ok. You can also connect a USB device and play video and audio and display pictures. That works fine.

It can't do any kind of streaming from the Internet except for a very few MS-approved videos. And there are still a fair number of video codecs that it can't deal with. For example it doesn't work at all with .mkv files.

I use an HTPC much more than my 360 to play back audio and video, and display pictures. There are just too many things the 360 can't do or can't do well. I can see using the 360 for occasional media use but not everyday.

Naberius: "At the risk of thread-jacking, I'd ask responders to also address the consoles' ability to connect to a home network, play media content directly from their hard drives, and stream from another PC on the network.

I'm in the same quandary as the OP regarding games, (all the good games right now seem to be on the XBox, but sooner or later, Final Fantasy 13's going to come out...) but I'm also going to be looking at the next console I get to finally bridge that home office to living room gap and let me play downloaded video, my mp3 collection and display the in-laws' vacation photos on my TV.
posted by aerotive at 3:30 PM on December 24, 2007

I'm in the same quandary as the OP regarding games, (all the good games right now seem to be on the XBox, but sooner or later, Final Fantasy 13's going to come out...) but I'm also going to be looking at the next console I get to finally bridge that home office to living room gap and let me play downloaded video, my mp3 collection and display the in-laws' vacation photos on my TV.

Apparently you can, maybe, kind of, stream HD videos from a computer acting as a server. It forces you to use Windows Media Player 11 to serve HD codecs. Given the time it took for this to get out, and the somewhat limited supported codecs, I would not rely on this as a media center. It is a shame that they make you use proprietary implementations (which aren't necessarily by themselves bad, except when they're implemented in this sort of way).

The technology for streaming music and even pictures from a computer is much more mature and there are various (cheaper) devices that are dedicated to that with a larger support base than the XBOX360 media center extender.
posted by geoff. at 6:53 PM on December 24, 2007

On the media front: the PS3 plays well with TVersity for streaming lots of formats (including OGG and .mkv and I think .ogm), and the last Sony update added divx and wmv support natively to the box. But I think the 360 has or is about to have all of this as well.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 7:53 PM on December 24, 2007

for the sake of clarification, an xbox LIVE Gold membership is the only type that actually costs money. most people want this type because you can play with others.

however, every xbox comes with a free Silver LIVE membership. you can still access nearly all the non-premium content that gold members can (movie trailers, game demos, etc.), just can't play online. so to say you have to pay money to access any online content is somewhat misleading.

and Gold members have to pay for the premium content at the same price as Silver members - a Gold membership doesn't get you free movie downloads or anything like that.
posted by uaudio at 12:54 PM on December 25, 2007

I'm a very happy owner of a PS3. Sure, there aren't as many games, but how many do you really need if the ones you have are fun to play? The PS3 exclusives so far are generally a bit more innovative with respect to gameplay - they have pretty great stories, amazing graphics and sound that really only scratches the surface of what the PS3 is capable of, and they marry that with some of the interesting motion controls that make the Wii so much fun.

I suppose it depends on what kinds of games you like to play. I've been nothing but happy with the big ticket titles - Heavenly Sword, Uncharted, Ratch & Clank, and the PSN downloadable games are pretty addictive - I keep coming back to Super Stardust HD and Everyday Shooter. It was a surprise for me, as I don't normally like most sports games, but High Velocity Bowling is a complete blast - the motion controls really make it.

To be sure, Sony has made a large number of missteps, but the console itself is a very strong offering. This is really just the first round. There are a few studios committed to making excellent PS3 games, and they've only just gotten their feet wet with a lot of the foundation work. I'm pretty confident that the next round of games is going to be even better as they build on that.
posted by Caviar at 6:50 AM on December 26, 2007

Thanks for the clarification on gold vs. silver xbox live membership, uaudio. I hadn't realized that and my post was misleading as a result.
posted by churl at 10:41 AM on December 26, 2007

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