Cyber Monday Wars: PS3 vs. Xbox 360


Erik Kain

Erik writes about video games at Forbes and politics at Mother Jones. He's the contributor of The League though he hasn't written much here lately. He can be found occasionally composing 140 character cultural analysis on Twitter.

Related Post Roulette

38 Responses

  1. Avatar ATLGreg1 says:

    The lack of a Blu Ray player really hurts XBox, but I keep hearing about how vastly superior its online experience is. And, in fact, I’ve heard that the gap between the two in that department is only expected to grow in the coming year. PS3 also doesn’t have Halo, which is an extremely fun game to play both solo and online. Perhaps most importantly, I’ve never found the PS controllers very comfortable. This may change over time, but I found the XBox controller to have a very natural feel right from the start.

    So I think I’m going to go XBox and just get a separate Blu Ray player.Report

  2. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    I’ll be watching this thread wtih great interest for myself.Report

  3. Avatar Greg says:

    Check out Craigslist and get a deal on both of them. With a little bit of luck and patience, you can grab an older XBox w/controllers and other accessories for $150, maybe even including a small collection of games. A used PS3 is a little bit harder to find at that price, but not impossible. Again, with a little bit of luck and patience you could close out the holiday season with both for around the same price and making some local sellers very happy.Report

  4. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Well, I’ve got my Monday essay.Report

  5. Avatar Ian M. says:

    Erik, I’m going to make a case for the PS3 because you are a father of young kids and probably don’t have time for all the stuff the 360 does well.

    The social functions of Xbox Live (XBL) are great – each console comes with a packed in head set and you can chat with friends online while gaming – even while playing different games (cross-game chat – a function the PS3 does not have). However, with two young children are you going to schedule time with your bros to sit in front of a TV and talk for a couple hours at night, expecting your wife to deal with everything else? I don’t like games I cannot walk away from without penalty at any time and any game talking with another person is like that for me – seems more like an obligation than an escape. Online gaming basically means excusing yourself from the dinner table every time you want to use the bathroom…but while playing video games. If you’re a PC gamer and you don’t have regular Steam buddies, a WoW guild, etc… then are you really going to start doing this? In a year of XBL Gold membership I spent about 3 hours gaming online with friends, it’s just annoying to schedule.

    Graphically, the systems are about equivalent, but the PS3 has a higher “top end” because it has more processors – although historically it’s hard to program for because the 360 has more RAM and is similar to Windows (so 360/Windows ports are easy). This means some (mostly older) games will have *terrible* load problems on the PS3. The 360 controller is a little bigger and heavier than the PS3. I have smaller hands and prefer the PS3 controller as does my 7 year old son, but the 360 controller is better for first person shooters (although worse for driving games IMHO). PS3 charges with a USB cord (non-proprietary) the 360 uses AA batteries. My oldest PS3 controller is 3 years old and has no issues with battery life.  Hard drive size mostly matters if you are installing full games on the 360 or storing lots of video files. You can replace your hard drive of the PS# with any 2.5” SATA drive and the system restore is part of the firmware (although this is time consuming).

    Media playback – PS3 blows away the 360. I have both attached to my 1080p LCD television with HDMI cords and the PS3 is far superior at upscaling DVDs and even Netflix looks better. I have a fancy-pants universal remote for the PS3 (the Blu-link), which works well. Both can stream Netflix and Hulu (no Amazon, grrrr), but you need a XBL gold account to do it on the 360 and I like the PS3 interface a little better. Finally if you have a HDTV and no Blu-ray player, the PS3 is an excellent Blu-ray player with short loads. You can set either one up as a media server to stream off the Internet (we use PlayOn), but results will vary with your home network .

    For the bundles, Fable 3 is dogshit compared to Fable 2 and I wouldn’t recommend it. Halo Reach is a SF first person shooter with extensive multiplayer that I doubt appeals much to you.  Of the other three choices, I would go with Batman Arkham City, which is outstanding. Hard drives are expensive right now so the 320 GB drive is a nice feature, but not necessary. Uncharted 3 is by most accounts great, but I would play Uncharted 2 first (better story, third builds on the narrative of the second). But you are entering this console generation late and amazing games are very cheap used. The number of console exclusives you will care about now is fairly small, but I prefer the PS3 exclusives (personal preference).

    I personally am waiting on a price drop for Kinect stuff – I think it’s worth $50 and Microsoft hasn’t released anything that’s made me feel like I need to get this thing.

    DO NOT BUY AN OLDER WHITE 360!!!! The white models have a hardware defect which causes a nearly 100% fail rate. I manage equipment for a living, please trust me on this – older 360s are bullshit hardware.

    We use our PS3 probably 3-10 hours a day, every day and have been doing so for about 3 years. This is the older “fat” model. It’s our DVD, Netflix, Blu-rayi player and a game machine. We also have some videos (kids movies) on the hard drive and play some movies off an external hard drive.

    The grotesquely persistent amount of advertising on the 360 interface really, really annoys me. I greatly prefer the PS3 interface, but this might be because I got so used to it before getting my 360.

    Finally – expect the next generation of consoles to be announced for Sony and Microsoft at some point this year.Report

    • Avatar BSK in reply to Ian M. says:


      What are the issues associated with the white XBox?  I’ve had mine for almost 2 years now and have had no issues.  Granted, I don’t play a ton and rarely use the online features, but I’ve never had an issue.  Is there something I can expect to happen anytime soon?

      One thing I’ve only recently been able to accept about the XBox was what I call the Wii-ification.  Shortly after I got it, they had the platform update that made everything look like Wii, complete with big-headed avatars and bouncey screen graphics.  Personally, I hate anything that exchanges functionality for cuteness or simply injects unnecessary cuteness (one reason I get bothered with a lot of Apple/Mac products) and this really pissed me off, probably more than it should have.  I get that Wii was super popular at the time and people were into the social aspect of it, but that fad has passed (how many people besides drunk college kids still play Wii bowling?) and, unless I missed an update, XBox is still utilizing it.  Bleh!  That is really small potatoes and, overall, I’ve been happy with the XBox.  But, again, I’m not a particularly avid gamer so I’m far from the best person to take advice from.Report

      • Avatar Ian M. in reply to BSK says:

        The heat sink is too close to one of the relays and inadequately shielded. If you play enough the heat sink will melt one of the solder points. If you are a light user it’s possible you’ll never have an issue.

        I should note that I enjoy the 360 (I would point to my 20 our save in Saints Row the Third from yesterday), but if I had to choose one or the other, given that I have young children, I would choose the PS3.Report

    • Avatar E.D. Kain in reply to Ian M. says:

      Ian – wow, thanks. That makes a lot of sense. Everyone here and Jaybird in his post all lead me to think that the PS3 is the direction to go. The only rub is the Kinect which would be fun. But I’m not sure I’d use it that much, or that the kids would use it that much. What have you heard of the upcoming Wii U?Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to E.D. Kain says:

        Wii U is really, really interesting.

        Aside from such things as a Wii with hi-def graphics, it comes with special (probably really expensive!) controllers. Each controller has its own screen… which means that, finally, it’s possible for each player in a multiplayer game to have private information (play poker with four players, for example).Report

      • Avatar Ian M. in reply to E.D. Kain says:

        What I’ve heard about the Wii U is intriguing, but I’m not a Nintendo guy so the strong line up of first party titles (Mario, Zelda) have no hooks for me. The tablet type controller seems pretty innovative, but hardware without software that leverages it in a compelling manner is irrelevant (see the Playstation Move controller). I felt a little burned by the Wii. My son didn’t like it that much (he thinks Mario is “stupid”) and I sold it a few months ago. So I’m in the “wait and see” camp wrt Wii U. I seriously doubt I’ll buy one.Report

      • Avatar Plinko in reply to E.D. Kain says:

        I loved the Wii at first, and I’m a hardcore Nintendo loyalist so I’ll probably give it serious consideration when it hits. I’ve been really disappointed over the last year or two with the Wii, though, I’ve not bought anything for it since Mario Kart.Report

  6. Avatar yeahreally says:

    Finally something I’m qualified to talk about. I have both an Xbox and a PS3, and the online system is better on the Xbox. I think the PS3 hardware is more reliable, though as I’ve had to send my Xbox in for repairs once already. I’d like to say that the PS3 is the better system, but honestly I’ve probably spent significantly more time on the Xbox.Report

  7. Avatar Plinko says:

    Man, losing another soul to consoles!

    Given your situation, I’d go with a PS3 (I keep nibbling at the idea of getting one but I’ve always got something else I’d rather spend $300 on), mainly because if you’re already a PC gamer, to me the PS3 offers a bigger departure from what you can do on your PC.

    On your PC you already have good access to MP gaming (many of which are crossovers for console – especially the 360) as well as incredible access to a marketplace for inexpensive back catalog and indie games. To me, that obviates a fair amount of the reasons to get a 360 – fewer things I’d get a PS3 are available for the PC, so you’re growing your options for gameplay in a bigger way.Report

    • Avatar E.D. Kain in reply to Plinko says:

      Plinko – I love the PC, but my own gaming rig is crapped out. It’s so much effort to keep up with the changing hardware, with stupid Windows, etc. I’m just not up for it for the time being. A console just sounds more convenient at the moment. I’ll still game with my laptop though.Report

      • Avatar Plinko in reply to E.D. Kain says:

        Ah, to me that would weight things a bit more to the 360, then – especially if you’re looking for online FPS type things.  Your laptop is still probably capable for the indie/casual PC stuff if that’s your preference (I suspect it’s not your main drive in choosing games, though) and I’d still lean toward the PS3.

        To me the most compelling argument is probably in Jaybird’s MD post, if your friends are mostly tilted to one side of the consoles, it’s best to go there, too. The major reason I stick to my PC is the big network of friends I have to play my games with. If they were all on one console I’d definitely switch over.Report

  8. Avatar Matt says:

    It all depends on what your intention is. For online gaming and all round quality games gor for the 360 but if you want film downloads , a blue-ray player and classic Ps2 games go for the PS3. The Xbox is less like P.c gaming, so if you want the familiar then goyou for Playstation.Report

  9. I’m a strict Nintendo loyalist, personally.Report

    • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Christopher Carr says:

      Colecovision 4ever!Report

      • Okay, so here are the ten games I’ve played most extensively over the last ten or fifteen years or so followed by the platform on which I played it:

        1 – Goldeneye – N64; 2 – Super Mario 64 – N64; 3 – Zelda: Ocarina of Time – N64; 4 – Final Fantasy 7 – PC; 5 – Halo – XBox; 6 – Metroid Prime – GC; 7 – Biohazard – GC; 8 – Super Mario Galaxy – Wii; 9 – Biohazard 4 – Wii; 10 – Chrono Trigger – PC (emulator)

        These are ten good games by anyone’s standards. Seven of them were on Nintendo systems (8 if you count Chrono Trigger, which was originally for SNES). Four were developed by Nintendo itself. Mock as you may, but Microsoft has been on a downward slope since the first Halo. Sony has GTA (which is awesome) and sports games for people too out of shape for real sports and not much else (admittedly I haven’t played COD. All the kids these days seem to rave about it.)Report

  10. Avatar E.C. Gach says:

    Unless you want to play Sony’s exclusives (Uncharted, Resistance, Little Big Planet, God of War, Kill Zone or Infamous), then hands down get the Xbox 360.

    The online is better, indie downloads are better, and games like Skyrim perform better.  True, there’s a monthly fee, but unless 6$ a month will break you, the service is worth it.

    That said if you’re looking to access older games from the PS2, PS1 era, then Sony is obviously the way to go.Report

  11. Avatar James Hanley says:

    Good lord, is there anyone here besides me who does not have a video game system?  Am I really that out of the ordinary?  (I have the most basic cell phone available, also, and my TV is an old 25″ that I bought at a garage sale…and it’s the biggest television I’ve ever had).  You guys are making me feel inadequate.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to James Hanley says:

      If you use your television as, say, a television rather than as, say, a monitor then a 25 inch television will do you just fine.

      It’s when you start realizing that the new HDTVs are not just televisions but *MONITORS* that the itch starts.

      Maribou and I don’t have cable. We don’t watch television (unless it’s a TV show as part of a box set). Our monitors, however, are gimungous.

      And I’ve recently heard that there is a new 80″ HDTV out there. That’s double the screen area of the 55″ television. (Of course, it’s an absolutely insane price that only people who seriously never, never ever think about money would not blink about paying… but imagine what it means for televisions 10 years in the future!)Report

    • I’m not far removed from you. I have an old Playstation 2 that is gathering dust since the remote broke back in ’06. I’ve been saying “I’m going to get a [blank]” with [blank] usually being a PS3. But one of the ways I keep on top of things financially is by saying “I want X, but do I need X <i>right now</i>” and, as is often the case, I say “I want X for years and years before acting on it, if I ever do, and I usually don’t.

      I did act on an HDTV last year, though. For much of the same thing that Jaybird talks about. It’s a monitor. I spend as much time using it with the attached computer as I do watching satellite. I suffered using a computer attached to a CRT for a long time. It was worth every penny to be able to avoid it 95% of the time (the other 5% of the time watching the old TV in the basement).Report

      • An HDTV with an attached computer?

        I think you’re farther removed from than you let on…I didn’t know there was such a thing (although I find it simple enough to imagine).Report

        • Not far removed on TV, I meant! I’m far removed from almost everybody I know on the computer side of things. It’s actually along these lines that I created this setup: I didn’t have cable, but wanted to be able to watch stuff. So the solution to that problem was simple. Though hard on the eyes, until I got the HDTV.Report

    • imagine what it means for televisions 10 years in the future!

      Don’t you mean “imagine what it means for monitors 10 years in the future?  😉

      But you’re right, I only use my television for television.  Which did almost lead us to purchase a new HDTV last year when our TV went out the day before a crucial Dutch game in the world cup.  Fortunately my wife Facebooked her anguish, and a friend who was moving out of state said he had an old TV available at his garage sale.  $25 vs. about $180 for the HDTV (yes, I was only considering a small one).

      I do watch a lot of sports, for which an HDTV would be nice.  Maybe I’ll see one available at a garage sale in a few years.Report

      • Avatar Fish in reply to James Hanley says:

        As one who recently upgraded to HD, I can attest that the sports are AMAZING!  Of course, watching what happened IN those sports wasn’t so amazing today…Thomas Vermaelen putting one in his own goal against Fulham…Tyler Palko overthrowing Dwayne Bowe for an interception against the Steelers, ending the game.

        Sigh.  I

        t doesn’t hurt any more to watch your favorite teams fail in HD, but it doesn’t hurt any less, either.


    • Avatar Plinko in reply to James Hanley says:

      Our big TV is still a 10-year-old 27″ (what do you call them it’s not really a tube, is it?), though I was sorely tempted by a 40″ HD LCD for $299 this weekend.

      Well, it all depends on how you value your home entertainment, it sounds to me like the TV, computer and video games aren’t your thing, so I’d venture it’s wise for you to put your entertainment dollars elsewhere. I, personally, enjoy video games way more than more passive TV/movie entertainments so I put my extra money in the PC.

  12. Avatar eric says:

    Good information and commentary.
    I am seriously considering upgrading my sons PS2 for Christmas. He bought his PS2- with his own money several years ago.Report

  13. Avatar Rauðbjorn says:

    Arguing PS3 vs. 360 is meaningless.  Each is good for certain things. 

    PS3:  Blue-Ray, massively expandable storage, great titles if you like JRPG games (FF series etc….)

    XBox 360: Great online options, best selection of FPS games on the planet, controlers meant for use by human hands


    In general if you’re shooty, get an Xbox, if you’re all about staring at CGI girls, get a PS3.Report