On the main site, E.D. asks “The question is, which is the better machine: Sony’s Playstation 3 or Microsoft’s Xbox 360?”

While my own personal preferences provide an answer to this question, the answer is not exactly clear-cut. For E.D. (or anybody, actually) I need the answers to the following questions before I can give my best advice.

How often do you play? How important is playing the new game, when it comes out, to you? How important is getting the newest, latest, and greatest DLC to you? How important is playing online multiplayer to you? Are there young kids in the house? Are there adolescents in the house? How important is owning a Kinect? How important are console-exclusive games?

First question is “How often do you play?”

If you play only once every two months for a *HUGE* session taking up Friday/Saturday/Sunday and then let the machine sit there for another few months, I might suggest the PS3. The PS3 has a blu-ray player. Until recently, the XBox didn’t have 1080p capability (the new slim black 360s do)… so if you want to use 1080p Netflix capability, you’re going to need a new 360 but you could get away with purchasing a used PS3. (I have both consoles… it’s likely to find that my 360 tray is holding a game and my PS3 is holding a DVD or Blu-Ray disc.)

The next questions are: “How important is playing the new game, when it comes out, to you? How important is getting the newest, latest, and greatest DLC to you?”

In recent years, we’ve seen a lot of games coming out with “Game of the Year Editions” (such as Fallout 3, Borderlands, and Red Dead Redemption) where the game is released a year or two after its initial release with all of the DLC bundled within (most of this DLC costs about 10 bucks each as it drip drip drips out during the aforementioned couple of years). If it is vitally important to you to play the new DLC the moment it comes out, I’d probably recommend the 360. I find the 360’s store much more pleasant to work with that the PS3’s store. If, however, you plan on never purchasing content from an online store, I’d say that you’ve probably got yourself a tie between the two systems (with the tiniest edge to the PS3 for reasons pertaining to interface customability… my PS3 interface, for example, looks like a pip-boy and that makes me happy).

The next question comes: “How important is playing online multiplayer to you?”

Well, the most important question that needs to be asked is “what system do your friends that you want to play with use?” If your three IRL best buds all have System X, you’re going to want System X and it’s just that simple. You can’t play with 360 people from the PS3 and you can’t play with PS3 people from the 360. If, however, you take the attitude that online strangers are just friends you haven’t made yet, there is a particular dynamic that you need to address:

The 360 requires an annual subscription to XBox Live Gold to play multiplayer and the PS3 does not. The list price for Gold is $60, but you should be able to easily find a sale or a discount card that will bring that price down by 10 bucks (Costco, for example, sells cards with a code on them that will give you a year’s worth of Gold for $47.99). The PS3 is free, free, free. The PS3 also just this year had an outage that lasted more than a month. (I also understand that PS3 has dedicated servers for games while the 360 has a cloud thing going on but I don’t play multiplayer and so cannot speak to how much of an impact that has upon games.)

The last questions are: “Are there young kids in the house? Are there adolescents in the house? How important is owning a Kinect?”

The most kid-friendly peripheral I’ve ever seen is the Kinect. Games like Kinectimals and Dance Central (and for the littler little ones, Sesame Street: Once Upon A Monster) are not only kid-friendly but it’ll have them doing something approaching exercising while they play (and if they want to five-star a hard song, they’ll be sweating). The PS3 has, sigh, the PS3 Move. While the hardware has some really, really interesting potential there has not been a single game that meets this potential. Dance Central has sold 360 Kinect bundles (and there are a number of games that are sweeteners… games that wouldn’t make you buy a Kinect but glad you already have one). I don’t know of a single Move game that has sold a single console. I don’t know of a single Move game that has made folks glad they already had a Move. If you find these kind of games intruiging, the 360 wins hands down.

(Puts on grown-up hat. There is also the issue of the PS3 having an internet browser that can go anywhere, yes, anywhere. The 360 does not have such a browser. The internet can be a wild and wooly place and having access to a browser that mom/dad might easily forget about monitoring would have been THE BEST THING THAT EVER HAPPENED TO ME when I was that age. I could see how a parent might feel differently, however.)

The last question comes: “How important are console-exclusive games?”

We’ve already discussed the 360’s console-exclusive games that use the Kinect, but there are a number of games for the PS3 only that are very, very good. LittleBigPlanet is one of the most charming platformers I’ve ever seen. The UNCHARTED games have stories and special effects that make them better than many big-budget action movies I’ve seen. (I played Uncharted 2 for an hour and was blown away… I asked Maribou to come into the room and just watch the first five minutes… she found reasons to stick around for a few hours and, over the next week or so, found excuses to read or pay the electricity bill while sitting on the couch in the basement rather than elsewhere and, even if she was using the computer in the next room, had me call her in for the cut scenes and the platforming scenes). Heavy Rain will get in your head and mess with it. It’s one of the best thriller titles out there and it’s spectacularly intense (I had to turn one gameplay video off because it had a dad walking through a mall calling the name of his son… man, that’s messed up). AND ON TOP OF THAT, there are new collections coming out like for God of War or The ICO and Shadow of the Colossus… and these were games that sold consoles in their own right.

There’s also an issue of how games that come out on both consoles look and feel… I, personally, think that games look better on the PS3 but handle better on the 360 (but that may be little more than a matter of taste). I’d say that this one comes out to a wash.

Clear as mud? Let me sum up:

If you are going to play games every day, play DLC as soon as it comes out, and ignore such things as Game of the Year games, you’re going to want a 360. If you’re going to play with your kids and occasionally tell them to get off their butts and exercise, you’re going to want a 360 and a Kinect.

If you are going to play games once in a blue moon but watch movies and/or Netflix quite regularly, you’re going to want a PS3. If you care about games that are only released on one console rather than another (that isn’t a Kinect game, of course), you’re going to want a PS3.

All that to say: you need *BOTH*.


Jaybird is Birdmojo on Xbox Live and Jaybirdmojo on Playstation's network. He's been playing consoles since the Atari 2600 and it was Zork that taught him how to touch-type. If you've got a song for Wednesday, a commercial for Saturday, a recommendation for Tuesday, an essay for Monday, or, heck, just a handful a questions, fire off an email to


  1. Good post Jaybird.

    I would point out that Kinect is neat, but has a number of technical limitations (necessary space, proper lighting) that make it a non-starter for some people depending on their set up.

    Your point on exclusives is well made, especially because Erik is coming from the PC where most 360 console exclusives also have a life. I would add flower, inFamous, Ratchet & Clank, and Wipeout HD as high quality PS3 exclusive experiences. But Fable 2, Alan Wake, Super Meat Boy, and Gears of War 2 made me feel good about buying a 360.

    Agree about the Move, bought one to see if it was good, and it works really well but the games just aren’t there. Still intend to try Resistance 3 with the sharpshooter at some point though.

    • Flower is freakin’ amazing.

      I was asked “what’s your short answer?” and here’s what I said:

      The PS3 *UNLESS* the Kinect/online multiplayer is a dealbreaker. The Kinect has amazing games and these are games that you can play with mom and dad and people who otherwise say things like “I never play games”. They will be dancing and laughing.

      There are a dozen reasons to pick the PS3 and not least is the fact that they have PS3 exclusive games (Uncharted, God of War, Ico/Shadow of the Colossus, Ratchet and Clank) that are absolutely *AMAZING* while, at the same time, the PS3 gets all of the Triple AAA titles (Skyrim, Grand Theft Auto 4, Red Dead Redemption, Saint’s Row, Dragon Age, Mass Effect 2) that the 360 gets. The 360 has Gears of War and Halo but unless you are a multiplayer shooter kinda guy (and I ain’t, lemme tell ya), you won’t care.

      I have both and I play the 360 almost exclusively and use the PS3 only for the exclusive games and for Blu-Ray… but if I were limited to one I might easily choose the PS3. I’d be giving up less awesome games by not playing a 360.

  2. I have a dumb rookie question. I’ve been considering getting a PS3 or XBox for a while now. The thing is, it doesn’t make sense to have it in the living room for spatial reasons and the TV in the basement is a CRT. What do new systems do when attached to a CRT with the different dimensions and such? I don’t care if it doesn’t look spectacular. But I don’t want it super-skinny or cropped.

  3. A quick google search shows that a blu ray player can be acquired for $67. PS3 averages about $250. NetFlix streams for $9 on XBL which is $50 or whatever they jacked the price up to. It may be a matter of taste but the PS3 doesn’t have good exclusive games and there’s enough crossover to satisfy any gamer.

    So some have the chicken, some have the fish but I recommend people have the lasagne. Get games off Steam. Case in point, no one is going to be able to get an old game, like Vampire: Bloodlines, for a current or next-gen console. Steam is relatively painless and unobtrusive as a platform.

    Have you seen the stuff streaming on NetFlix? It’s awful. I’ve had better luck liberating media from the internet, watching it on my computer then deleting it. Heck there are tons of gadgets that will hook up your rig to a TV so you can watch all proper-like with a remote control. Plus if you know where to go, you can watch something and only be a day behind the other people around the water cooler.

    And this is all platform independent because it’s available for Mac and PC. Only thing is that there’s no Linux client for Steam.

    • So the question then comes “does a PS3 provide an additional $183 worth of value?”

      The exclusive games for the PS3 are pretty danged good, if’n you ask me. If you like platformers, Little Big Planet is one of the best ever. If you like Action/Adventure, you’ve got the Uncharteds. Infamous gives you a rip-roaring Superhero game. Heavy Rain gives you a good suspense story.

      The 360 exclusives are either first person-shooters or duck/hide shooters (or Alan Wake) or Kinect games. If those are not your bag (and they ain’t everybody’s), then the PS3 is a good alternative to a system that you have to upgrade every year or so and download/install upgrades for if you want to play bleeding edge games. If you want to play games that were good years ago, sure, Steam makes a great addition… but the PS3 stands up on its own right depending on how you feel about that $183.

  4. I had a post about where the above analysis fell short. Then this site wiped it and I can’t be arsed to write it all out again.

    In short:

    Get a PS3 if:
    you are too tall or fat for the Kinect’s documented problems with height and weight.
    you want motion controls integrated into mainstream games.
    you’re into fighting games.
    noob/kid-friendly online environment is the most important factor in multiplayer.
    you want an amazingly artistic or animed theme for your background.

    Get a 360 if:
    you are an inventive type who wants to develop motion control apps outside game environments.
    you’re into FPS.
    network latency is the most important factor in multiplayer.
    you want an avatar that you can customize to represent you.

    • So focusing entirely on games and not taking the kinect/move into account, we’re left with amateur vs. hardcore multiplayer environments and fighting games vs. FPSes?

      • >>>>we’re left with amateur vs. hardcore multiplayer environments

        Not exactly.

        Network latency issues aside, PSN doesn’t have a coherent voice chat system so the number of no-micers is much higher. However, people , perhaps because of this, are generally nicer.

        Ignoring how Party Chat fragmented the community (party chat mutes all non-party members), Microsoft is notoriously bad on following up on complaints about player behavior. As anyone can tell you, 5 minutes on the average non-party chat game of COD will forever wither your faith in humanity. Even if you don’t, there are other ways to get a player. Recently, after a game of Gears 3, I got an XBL mail disparaging my skills and comments about what the other person presumed was my skin color.

        And kids aren’t safe from this. Last Christmas, I was playing a game of Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit when an 11-year-old boy joined the race. The other players took this as an opportunity to tear him down as well as making enough sexual comments to fill a week-long run of “To Catch a Predator”. (In a humorous sidenote, I turned into the “dad” figure and told people what is and is not appropriate to say to an 11-year-old boy. I actually managed to cow the others into shutting up or apologizing.)

        When I say “noob/kid friendly”, I am saying that, while people may play hardcore on PSN, there is almost always an underlying theme of sportsmanship and some tenets of social behavior in exchange for network latency issues.

        With XBL, the network is far and away the best but you are going to be dealing with a breed of lowlife that has gotten me to:
        stop playing L4D online altogether
        stop using a headset at all for non-team games

        Put another way, I would feel comfortable letting my nephews/niece play Ratchet & Clank: All4One unsupervised but it’d be a cold day in Hell before I let them play even the Sesame Street game online unsupervised or, at the very least, without voice completely disabled under the parental controls setup.

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