Microsoft and Sony Go Head-to-head at E3

Outside of Apple's WWDC announcements today, Microsoft and Sony faced off in the console marketplace with announcements of games, features and pricing for the Xbox One and PS4.

First out of the blocks was Microsoft, who demonstrated new games and announced pricing for the third generation Xbox. The latter was unexpected, as was confirmation that Xbox will ship into 21 international markets simultaneously in November. Priced at $499 in the US, £429 in the UK and (most importantly) $749 in New Zealand, the Xbox One will include the latest Kinect in the bundle.

Microsoft also boosted its Xbox Live Gold service with the announcement of monthly free games for subscribers - two per month, starting with Halo 3 and Assassin's Creed 2 in July. There's an updated Xbox 360 too, and confirmation that the 360 will see a continued place in the Xbox line up and new games will continue to be released on the platform.

Sony's presentation included the first unveiling of its new hardware - surprisingly similar in look to the Xbox One actually - as well as the first demonstrations of its games and media capabilities. Pricing was a little lower than the Xbox - although the Eye isn't part of the bundle, making the pricing fairly close once added. I doubt anyone will be making a buying decision based on the difference in price of the two consoles.

Sony probably felt the same too, because they focused on areas where Microsoft exposed some weaknesses. PS4 games can be bought, sold and traded in exactly the same way that PS3 games are today. There's also no need for an internet connection with the PS4, so if you don't want to you need never go online.

Its going to be an interesting decision for console gamers come the holiday season, with neither console offering anything for legacy owners there's no benefit to remaining loyal to either platform. Its going to be a choice between games, media and ecosystem platforms based on what's available today.

Personally I think Microsoft just edges it with a superior platform and media handling, although Sony may be able to address that in the coming months.

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