As the console war rages on, Sony and Xbox are still bringing new features to the front lines to see who will emerge as the must-have media device that will rest under every TV.
While Sony’s PSN has always been a free service, Xbox’s paid gold service is struggling to justify its 7.99/month cost as of late. Xbox Live did reveal two new features at this year’s E3. A Twitter and Facebook interface will be available for online socialites to interact with their fellow gamers in even more ways. Xbox will also utilize 1080P video streaming and see the addition of last.fm music service. All video and audio service will be available as a shared viewing/listening experience across the Xbox Live network. Xbox did not state whether or not the media would have to purchased from all individuals, but it did state that the micro-transaction supported Joy Ride racing kart game would not require fellow racers to pay for tracks owned by one, for a single race against others.
What was missing? Not a word was uttered of any DVR support, and not even a whisper of a useable Hulu interface from either platform. No public announcement was made addressing the Sony rumor of a free music video streaming service either. In fact, it very well could be quite some time before consoles catch up to the web with any type of ad-supported video distribution model. What was revealed were several controller updates to compete with the Wii. Image and voice recognition from Xbox’s “Project Natal” provided a controller-free interface, and Sony’s Eye Toy update complete with a color changing ball. Both devices hinted at possible augmented reality applications for the future.
It appears that all three platforms are looking to extend the life of each generation far further than the previous. Even the new PSP Go plays the same games as the PSP x000 versions, minus the UMD drive. The PSP will see an upgrade to the PSN store however. Full movies and games (including a Tuesday re-release of FFVII) will be available for download via the online service. These welcome updates point the way to the future of the console media center. Now its only a matter of time before digital connectivity has fully matured for the portable device and home TV.