Well.. it will come down to this.
Which company has the bigger balls and which blinks first?
Sony went ahead of MS and confirmed that the PS4 will not require a pernanent online connection which put MS under a huge spotlight. As i have said already i firmly believe that MS planned an always on connection feature for the XBO but had to frantically change course when the shitstorm hit. They said it won't need a permanent connection but first reports already talk about it needing at least a connection once every 24h which makes it a sort of "light" version.
So there will be this distinction at first.. now it will be about used games. Very big issue with gamers who either like to swap games or trade them in at Ebay or somewhere else to use the money and in many cases buy newer games. The general customer who maybe starts up the box once a week or so if the mood strikes is totally unaware that he will not be able to lend or rent a game.. how will they react?
On the technical side both consoles will be similar enough from what i can gather so it will be features, cost and game support that will decide this race (if there will even be a clear winner).
MS wants the XBO to be a media center that also plays games.. i know nobody who's exited about all the additional features it supposedly will have (at least for US customers.. it depends how these TV features and such will translate to the rest of the world) so there's stuff with the XBO that you will actually not need or want driving the price up.
PS4 seems to concentrate more on the gaming front though the PS Eye will be included together with the new controller that allows for some motion detection (though it doesn't seem to be as sophisticated as Kinect 2).
Someone said eariler that publishers push for all these DRM features and i agree but the bucket also stops with the customers. Without them neither the publisher nor the console manufacturer will earn anything.
Sometimes companies take it too far (Sony has already learned that lesson) and have to back off.. it might take a while for lost income to become a game changer but it has happened before.
So who will have the bigger balls and goes against the other company? If both had agreed on always on the customer would have been screwed because there would have been no alternative (and a hardcore gamer buying a Wii U? Please...). Who will have the guts to stick to their plan and risk this entire generation's race?
From the very few facts available i am firmly leaning in the PS4 camp right now because some features of the XBO are a huge no for me.
- backdoor "light" version of an always on feature
- the microphone of the XBO Kinect 2 being always on (has to be if you want to control the XBO via voice command but i'll be damned if i trust any company with my privacy)
- price may become an issue (they way it looks now XBO will be more expensive than the PS4 because of Kinect 2 and other features unless MS heavily subsidizes the console)
The following weeks and months will be filled with more news.. i don't expect much hard data from E3 (this will mostly be about games and the shiny graphics the new consoles will be able to present) but late summer will be interesting when release dates and prices will be announced.