The joy of (new) box: PS4 and Xbox One’s celebrated launches

Thursday, 12th December 2013 13:05 GMT By Brenna Hillier

The arrival of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One has re-ignited Brenna’s love of gaming – and everyone else’s, too, it seems.

This is, in general, a launch heralded by pleasure and appreciation for the new tech; by emails signed off with “have you got a new console yet HOW GOOD IS THIS GAME”; by demands for console network IDs; and by a ceasefire in the ongoing battle to see who can be the grumpiest bastard in video games.

There are certain fashions or trends among video game media which are sacrosanct, and the primary one is cynicism. It’s all very well to sit at home and play video games for two days straight on the weekend; to pump out several thousand masterly words on your latest gaming crush; and to lay down fat wads of money on every bit of hardware that comes along, justifying the expense as “work” to exasperated family members – but as soon as one is among one’s peers, it is not done to show enthusiasm for the product.

In the wake of the launch of the PS4 and Xbox One, though, this culture of cool has gone out the window. The good ship HMS Cynicism has been hastily rechristened the SS Optimism, although we couldn’t get the bottle to smash safely so we drank it instead, and then woke up and kept playing despite the headache and sudden craving for Lucozade. My largely games media populated Twitter feed for days after all three launches was an unceasing torrent of excitement, happiness, and positivity, marred only by the occasional complaint from someone who hadn’t been able to pick up a shiny new box yet.

It’s not all flowers and sunshine, of course; it’s probably the Sony fangirl in me that makes me notice more complaints coming out of the Microsoft camp, but certainly not everybody loves absolutely everything about their shiny new boxes. The Dual Shock 4 is fantastic but holds a tiny amount of charge, and Sony has once again elected to include a charging cable just long enough to ensure you pull the console off the shelf. Xbox One installations randomly decide to slow down to a continental drift crawl unless you switch off the Internet. PS4 Share is producing massive amounts of spam from people who don’t understand how to set their Facebook permissions. Xbox One refuses to render unto Caesar Caesar’s notifications, which he’s not at all happy about. Neither console has quite enough software just yet.

But these are just niggles, things that will iron themselves out in firmware updates, hardware revisions, third-party add-ons, and the inevitable passage of time – unless Sony or Microsoft throws caution to the wind and manages to fluff an entire generation. (Ha ha! What are the chances of that happening? Probably not very high; Sony has already shown itself swift and reactive, killing a PS4 hardware failure scandal off with praiseworthy efficiency and excellent customer service). This is, in general, a launch heralded by pleasure and appreciation for the new tech; by emails signed off with “have you got a new console yet HOW GOOD IS THIS GAME”; by demands for console network IDs; and by a ceasefire in the ongoing battle to see who can be the grumpiest bastard in video games. Even Pat’s crawled blinking out of his cave and discovered he wants to smash everybody to pieces in Resogun.

I haven’t been in this industry long enough to say whether this happens at every generational transition, because this last cycle was the most protracted to date, but the PS4 and Xbox One’s reception is very different from that of the Wii U, Vita and 3DS. Even just sales-wise, DFC Intelligence reckons the PS4 has beaten out the Xbox One to nab not just the most successful hardware launch this generation but the biggest console launch ever – but that’s not to undersell the fact that the Xbox One has done profoundly well, either.

I can say that this is a really good time to be doing the job that I do. Online media is, in general, a difficult career to remain optimistic in. It’s the nature of humanity to complain rather than celebrate, so most aspects of this business, from crafting headlines to moderating comments, wear you down rather than bear you up. At the end of eight hours of thinking and writing about video games and the culture around them, frequently in the most negative terms, it’s often hard to summon the energy to go spend any time actually playing – especially when all the cool kids are competing to see who can do the best sneer.

That’s all changed for me over the past few weeks. When I get out of my chair at the end of the day I’m impatient to get in front of the telly; I’m even having a very polite war with my housemate over the living room. I’m reluctant to wander very far away from my two gorgeous new magic thinky boxes, but then again, I’m excited and happy to see my colleagues and friends so we can enthuse together over how much fun this industry really is.

Thanks, Microsoft and Sony; it’s been a long time coming, but it was worth the wait. Video games.



  1. Francis O


    #1 10 months ago

    ^ There you go…

    Proving her right…

    #2 10 months ago
  3. Dave Cook

    @2 Yep.

    I’m definitely more enthusiastic, but at the same time a bit down on the big players. I’m growing tired of the same-old stuff, but in turn I’m playing Steam a lot more and seeking out new projects. Nuclear Throne currently has me utterly hooked for one, and Hearthstone.

    Like a kid in a candy store right now.

    #3 10 months ago
  4. monkeygourmet


    Ahhh… So it’s a self congratulatory back slapping thread… I get it now! :)

    Yay next gen!


    What is this ‘Nuclear Throne’ you speak of?

    #4 10 months ago


    I just think it’s important to remember that the people who work in the industry, and fields related to the industry, are humans too, and will almost definitely get sick of the seemingly never ending hate and aggression.

    I’ve commented a few times to say that I, like Dave am disappointed in what the next gen turned out to be, so I’m not blameless, but its true that many gamers seem to spend more time saying how bad something is, than actually having fun, playing games.

    I suppose Brenna’s just trying to be more positive…

    #5 10 months ago
  6. The_Red

    Holy shit, Nuclear Throne is AWESOME. If I’m not mistaken, it was previous titled Wasteland Kings and it’s a rogue-liki(-like?) from Vlambeer.

    Back to topic, thanks for this article. Now matter how much Wii U fans bicker and cry, their system and its launch didn’t bring the next-gen excitement. Sure, none of the exclusives on PS4 / XB1 feel that way either but the systems themselves and their launch feels exactly like that: Start of a new freaking generation after the LOOONNNNNNGGGG and almost never-ending PS3/360 era.

    #6 10 months ago
  7. Dave Cook

    @6 Nuclear Throne is badass. Top down rogue like shooter set in a radiated wasteland. So much fun.

    #7 10 months ago
  8. manamana

    I’m absolutely ready, though it seems the developers aren’t. Will wait with the PS4 unless the SteamMachines are officially presented. My backlog is also on the long side, so no hurry here. But yes, all is very promissing! :-)

    #8 10 months ago
  9. Animeboy413

    Hi Brenna, I loved your article it was nice to read .)

    #9 10 months ago
  10. Animeboy413

    I Love David Cook he is so interesting

    #10 10 months ago
  11. DrDamn

    The systems themselves are just really nice to use – speaking from experience mainly of PS4 personally. It’s simply a great environment to play games on. Even if games themselves are largely cross gen experiences a lot of the fun I am having is due to the OS and features that provides.

    I’m keeping my PS3 for a bit to play backlog and PS+ titles, but I much prefer gaming on the PS4.

    #11 10 months ago
  12. Hunam

    I can’t afford a new console so I’m spending Christmas finishing games I’ve neglected on my PS2.

    #12 10 months ago
  13. bartveenz

    my aunty got a 12 month old Jeep Wrangler SUV by working parttime from a laptop… Read More Here (Home more)

    #13 10 months ago
  14. xxxGamesMasterxxx

    Oh yeah I’m real excited with all this next gen micro transactions, day 1 dlc’s and paywalls. Can’t wait to get screwed over as a gamer even more than I already am.

    #14 10 months ago
  15. junguler

    i’m happy with the prettier games for now, hopefully PS4 and X1 will have a ton of fun games that are exclusive to them and people get to played them and enjoy the shit out of them.
    pc gaming is fun too but my pc is from 2008-2009 era and i won’t be investing in a new one.
    a PS4 for me and a X1 2-3 years down the line.

    #15 10 months ago
  16. manamana

    @14 that image is genius.

    #16 10 months ago
  17. Cobra951

    @14, 16: Wow. It certainly is. I saved it locally, and I’m sure I’ll end up referencing it later, somewhere. It sums up nicely the biggest reason I haven’t jumped on the new gen. My other reasons–growing pains and lack of games–are not far behind. But this article does make me wish I were in on the new fun. It made me smile, a bit.

    #17 10 months ago
  18. BrahManDude

    glad someone is positive about new consoles

    #18 10 months ago
  19. fearmonkey

    I always get super excited about launch’s, but even I can say that I wasn’t quite as excited this time compared to the launches of the Dreamcast, Xbox, and Xbox 360. I can say that this was mainly due to the fact that none of the systems this time had the game I was just dying for.

    With the Dreamcast, it was Soul Calibur, With the Xbox it was Halo/Dead or alive 3 and Munch, and with the Xbox 360 it was Kameo.
    The PS4 had two titles I was interested in but not OMG, and I have bought only one game for it so Far…Kilzone which is a decent game, but not a Halo killer in any way. I’m renting Black Flag and Lego Super heroes and those are fun, but not exactly really next gen to me.

    I tell you that the thing that feels most next gen to me about the PS4 isn’t the games, its the OS and unit itself. I was surprised at how swift and fast the OS is on the PS4, and the transition from games to dashboard to web browser is so quick and fast. The PS4 feels powerful, the response of the unit is amazing. I don’t know how the Xbox One compares, but it just feels so nice and fast compared to the dashboard and guide of the 360.

    I can’t wait to see games that actually take advantage of it’s abilities like The Order. Infamous: Second Son looks lovely too, but the order seems like its going to be the game with the Wow factor for me this fall, at least from a Sony studio.

    #19 10 months ago
  20. JB

    @14 spot on :)

    So far there`s no games on them I`m interested in. I`ll probably get a PS 4 when prices go down and there`s a bigger library of games.

    If Microsoft make a box without Kinect, I might get one later as well. Right now it has no appeal to me.

    #20 10 months ago
  21. Telepathic.Geometry

    Nice article Brenna. I think it’s easy to forget about playing games when you’re constantly playing the meta-game of talking about games. Nice to hear that amidst all of the bullshit, you’re still enjoying yer games…

    #21 10 months ago

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