The console wars are still going strong, and even though most of the newest players won't take the field until holiday season this year, there are still plenty of shots being fired across the bow. Once again, though, the pratfall in this one seems to go squarely to Microsoft
, and it's all about the headset microphones.
Microsoft dropped word earlier that the Xbox One would in fact not come with one of the wired headsets that Microsoft described as a "must have" when it came to online gaming. Perhaps worse, the headset had as of yet no suggested retail price, so Microsoft gamers planning to get the headset would have no idea how much to bump up the expected payment just to get in on the action. This is an especially unusual development, given that Xbox 360 versions have commonly included a headset microphone, except for the Arcade and Core versions. However, this isn't so much of a problem functionality-wise, given that Microsoft already includes the Kinect
system in with its lineup--the Kinect has a complete set of multi-array microphones--but for Microsoft to not include the headset microphone that even it regarded as a "must have" item is a little on the unusual side.
But, as is commonly the case for Microsoft lately, things only got worse. Sony stepped in not long after Microsoft put out its word to confirm that the PlayStation 4
would be including a headset microphone in the box, no additional charge.
So now, not only is the PlayStation 4 $100 less than the Xbox One, it's now including things that Microsoft isn't and leaving out things that Microsoft's including that people in many cases didn't want in the first place. This is a sock in the teeth for Microsoft, as Sony's going to be able to build a very convincing case for being the "value provider" here, offering customers just what they want--say what you will about the PlayStation 4 being only a slightly better PlayStation 3--and leaving out the stuff that gamers don't want. A surprisingly large number of gamers are concerned about the potential privacy issues posed by the Kinect, and that means some qualms for the target market that could result in lower sales.
Granted, Microsoft is basically including a microphone in the form of the Kinect, though it remains to be seen just how much value that will have for the players. After all, there will be issues of background noise and the like to consider when Microsoft gets going in earnest, though this may not be a problem. The only way to tell will require large numbers of users actually using the devices in order to see what kind of impact it has.
It may not be the worst news that Microsoft will have to endure, but if Sony takes advantage of a perception as the "value provider," it may well ultimately give Sony the top slot in this round of the console wars. It remains to be seen who can do the job and capitalize on early gains, but it's going to be a doozy of a fight either way.