Sony is beating Microsoft in the social gaming battle

Microsoft had better step up its game soon.


Dennis Scimeca

Internet Culture

Published Oct 29, 2014   Updated May 30, 2021, 7:44 am CDT

If Sony keeps improving the social functionality of the PlayStation 4, Microsoft could be playing catch up with the Xbox One for a long time..

The 2.00 update to the PlayStation 4 adds, among other things, the ability to upload video clips directly to YouTube. Previously, users had to either post the video to Facebook and download the clip from there or download the clip to a USB drive and upload it to YouTube from a computer. The 2.0 update also enhances functionality for Twitch broadcasting.

Social sharing has been one of the most obvious differences between the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One hardware so far. Microsoft originally depended on its OneDrive cloud storage system as the hub of social sharing for the Xbox One. Users had to upload video clips to OneDrive, which generated links for sharing the clips on Facebook or Twitter.

The PlayStation 4, on the other hand, was built from the ground up with Facebook and Twitter in mind. It integrated both social networking services into the system. PS4 users could make and edit video clips to share directly through either service. Twitch broadcasting was also available on the PS4 on the day the console launched, whereas the Xbox One only got the feature through a patch four months after its release.

The PlayStation 4 DualShock 4 controller has a Share button for easy screenshotting and video capture. The console is constantly holding the last 15 minutes’ worth of gameplay for users to save and edit later, and users can begin recording video clips whenever they want, again by using the Share button.

Prior to an Oct. 15 update, Xbox One users needed a Kinect camera to say “Xbox, record that,” and instantly capture 30 seconds’ worth of game footage. The October update allows users to do this by double-tapping the guide button on the controller and pressing another button. Users still have to go through the Game DVR app to record up to five minutes’ worth of game footage.

Microsoft was ahead of the game on YouTube functionality. An April patch allowed Xbox One users to upload video clips directly to YouTube, through the YouTube app itself, once the video had been edited in the Game DVR app. With PlayStation 4 update 2.00, however, Sony has leapfrogged Microsoft: The PS4 does not require users to access a separate app to upload video to YouTube, and video capture and edit work as always.

The stark differences in the two consoles’ social functions represents another reversal in the relationship between the PlayStation and the Xbox. In the previous console generation, the Xbox 360’s social features, namely the Xbox Live service, trounced what Sony had to offer on the PlayStation 3. Where Microsoft offered an easy-to-use Party chat that allowed players to communicate via voice no matter what games everyone was playing, Sony only allowed players to chat if they were on the system dashboard or in the same game together.

Sony’s attempt at a social hub, PlayStation Home, was a de facto Second Life clone that was no longer being advertised as a social hub within a year of release. It was considered more of a marketplace for digital content and mini-games. Nothing Sony offered could match the simplicity of Xbox Live and the ease with which it allowed players to coordinate their gaming.

Now Sony is offering the same kind of party-based chat on the PlayStation 4, and there’s no comparison between the social functions on the PS4 and the Xbox One. While the marked differences in the consoles’ social features do not explain their huge sales gap, in a Web culture focused on social networks, these are not differences to take lightly.

The differences seem particularly stark when one considers that the PlayStation 4 allows users to send voice messages to one another, which is pretty basic functionality, whereas the Xbox One still limits users to text messages through either the virtual keyboard or the Smartglass app.

PlayStation 4 update 2.0 is available today.

Illustration by Jason Reed | Remix by Fernando Alfonso III

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*First Published: Oct 29, 2014, 2:56 pm CDT