Microsoft came under fire from gamers after initially saying it would set restrictions on used games, and require an Internet connection to play. After a flurry of complaints, the company reversed its policies in June. In contrast, Sony has consistently touted support for used games and offline gameplay at industry events. And the PS4 comes $100 cheaper.
Sony said at video game industry trade show in Germany that it had received more than 1 million pre-orders for its upcoming console, while Microsoft has revealed only that preorders for the Xbox One exceeded those of its predecessor, the 360, eight years ago.
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Microsoft "couldn't make up their mind and Sony hadn't wavered from the beginning," said 26-year-old gamer Christopher Turner from Salem, Ala., who intends to spend his cash on the PS4. "The PlayStation 4 is for both hardcore and casual gamers."
But 56-year-old participant Jon Leigh, who plays six to 10 hours of video games a week and lives in Harlan, Ky., thinks the Microsoft controversy won't sway Xbox fans.
"People who use Microsoft products will continue to use them, he said. Leigh will go with the Xbox One because of its upgraded "Kinect" motion sensor, and because he's more familiar with the Xbox than the PlayStation.
The $399 PS4 and $499 Xbox One represent the first major upgrades of mainstream gaming hardware in years, setting game developers scrambling to put out new releases that take advantage of better graphics and faster processors.
They are scheduled to hit store shelves from mid-November, about a year after Nintendo's slow-selling Wii U. Of the 1,297 respondents, only 3 percent said they now played games on the Wii U, versus 20 percent on the Xbox 360, 20 percent on computers, and 18 percent on Sony's PlayStation 3.
Reversing the tide
More broadly, the shrinking videogames industry hopes the advent of the two new game consoles can breathe fresh life into a sector battered by the proliferation of free games on mobile devices and PCs, as well as on social networks like Facebook.