July 26, 2013, 6:00 AM —
There's a lot of animosity between camps in the console video gaming world. Xbox fans love to troll the Playstation users, and vice versa.
This is bad for a lot of reasons; it makes the videogaming hobby seem very immature, it makes it almost impossible to have a serious discussion about games on the Internet, and most importantly of all, it's completely counter-productive.
Believe me, the worst thing that could happen to gaming is for either the Playstation or the Xbox platform to "win" in the sense that the competing company gives up and exits the market. Competition is always good for the consumer. Don't take my word for it, though. Let's look at some recent examples.
The most obvious one is the Xbox 180 situation. Microsoft announced one set of policies for the next generation of console gaming, Sony announced another. The public let it be known that they preferred the Sony way of doing things, so Microsoft changed their policies. If there was no PS4 coming, it's unlikely Microsoft would've felt any real pressure to change.
Here's another example. Sony has been playing up how "Indie friendly" it is while Microsoft has been getting a lot of negative press because small game developers can't self-publish on the Xbox. This means every developer has to partner with a publisher just to get on the platform.
Well that too is changing. On Wednesday Microsoft confirmed leaks saying that they would start allowing independent game publishers to self-publish on the Xbox One. This new policy won't be in place at launch but is expected to debut within the first year of the Xbox One's life.
While they aren't saying so, it's not much of a guess to say that the reason self-publishing won't be available at launch is because Microsoft wasn't planning on changing their policies until they saw all the good PR and interest Sony was garnering via their more open way of doing things. And while we don't know all the details yet (Microsoft says it'll reveal more at Gamescom in August) there's one aspect where Microsoft is beating Sony: every Xbox One will have the ability to run in-progress code.
This means that developers, at least in theory, won't need to purchase an expensive dev-kit for the Xbox One. It also means the Xbox One platform is open to programs like Steam's "Early Access" program where customers can buy alpha and beta versions of games in order to help support the developer, both fiscally and in terms of feedback.
Currently a Sony PS4 dev-kit costs about $2,500, according to Polygon, though developers say Sony has been loaning out kits for free to a lot of devs. Still, if Microsoft starts gaining more traction among indie developers due to not requiring a dev-kit we can expect to see Sony make some changes to the PS4 so it, too, can run in-progress code.
These are just a couple of examples of how Sony and Microsoft are constantly competing for our favor. Nintendo seems to continue to do its own thing, which is why Nintendo continues to have consumer-unfriendly practices like tying purchases to a specific piece of hardware rather than an account that you can transfer when your old gear breaks.
Gamers, the longer Microsoft and Sony battle it out for our attention, the better off we'll all be. Keep that in mind the next time you feel the urge to tear down people who support the opposing camp. At the end of the day, we're all in this together.
Read more of Peter Smith's TechnoFile blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Peter on Twitter at @pasmith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.