PSN vs XBL: Why I Hate This Argument

By on April 28, 2011

This rant (yes, that’s what it is) will mostly be about the arguments that have sprung up (again) that pit the PlayStation Network against Xbox Live.  Of course, this debate has been ignited once again thanks to the issues surrounding PSN (so yes, there will be a little relating to that in here as well).  So this piece may be all over the place and disjointed, but try to stay with me.


Before anything, understand that the biggest mistake from Sony concerning this hacking situation is their lack of straightforward and immediate communication.  If they had kept their customers up to date (just yesterday, 4/27, did I receive my first email concerning the problems) and didn’t semi-hide the issues over personal information, they might have come out with a much better image than they’re currently sporting.


But that’s not what this article is really about.  I get severely annoyed by the arguments (ahem, Godfree) over whether PSN or XBL is better.  Are they comparable services? Yes.  Are they on the same level? Not in my opinion.  And I’m not talking level as being better or worse than the other (I will attempt to explain this later on).


My two biggest arguments for why you shouldn’t (I don’t want to use can’t) compare them is the very fact that Microsoft and Sony both started this generation at a loss.  What was our biggest complaint against the PS3? It cost too much.  Sony was losing more money for longer on their system. From that perspective, it would be the equivalent of financial suicide to charge for their online service from the beginning, or even shortly after the PS3 launch.


Continuing on that tangent, XBL has a nearly 10 year (launched 2002) income base from subscriptions. It has been estimated that the first 2 months of XBL saw 250,000 gamers sign up. At $50 for a year subscription at the time (we’ll just generalize that all of them signed up for a year), that’s $12,500,000 (yeah, 12 and a half million dollars, which is no joke) in just two months.  Of course, it’s expanded immensely since then.  And let’s not forget, to play online with XBL you have to pay for it.


On the other side, while Sony did offer some kind of online service on PS2 it was kind of nonexistent. So we’ll just say that Sony’s online experience really started on the PS3, which means just past 5 years under their belt (little more than half the time MS has with XBL). Add to that, Sony didn’t start charging for the service until this past year & it’s not a required charge. It’s simply optional, so they don’t even have a regular income stream to expect from the service like MS does. Essentially they don’t have much money coming out of the service to put back into it.


Moving on from that, they offer mostly the same features (to my understanding because really, I don’t use much besides the fact that I can play my games online).  The only big difference (besides the download times) is in the interface.  And no matter how people argue it, that all comes down to personal preference. I actually prefer the set-up of the PS3 dashboard to the Xbox 360 one.  The way I view my friends and the lack of numerous ads/notices is much more to my liking. I always use the guide button on the Xbox because I can’t stand going through that useless channel for friends on the dashboard and I have no interest in all those extra channels (games, video, etc).  On the PS3, all of that stuff isn’t in my face or really in the way.  So right there, personal preference.  I admit I find the Xbox a little easier to navigate. But guess what? I’ve had an Xbox much longer than a PS3 so of course it’s easier for me to use. It’s all about familiarity.


If you feel it necessary to preach that XBL is much better, let me argue with different logic.  Microsoft has been dealing with networks, software and operating systems for years.  They have history in interfaces & ease of use (being hacked and security as well).  What does Sony mostly work in? Cameras, computers (just the hardware people) and TVs/home entertainment (when we say home, we mean things like Blue Ray players).  The history and experience of these two companies, regardless of what gaming systems they offer & compete with, are vastly different.


Finally, my short touch on the hacking PSN issue.  Bottom line on this is that the XBL users have an illusion of security simply because we pay (and have been since the beginning) for our service.  People are blowing it out of proportion.  Have we not had several prominent figures of the Xbox team have their accounts (aka their personal information) hacked? Yes, the scale is different.  But the fact remains that hackers have and likely will continue to get into XBL and steal our own “sensitive” information (either one by one  or in groups is irrelevant. A stolen identity is a stolen identity and it sucks).


While it’s not anything I can explain (because I don’t understand more than the basics myself), I don’t feel that XBL has any greater resistance to hackers than PSN.  While their work in systems and networks affords them a better view of what it means to be hacked (I’m sure it’s happened many times before) & how to counteract that, they really just have the benefit of proper preparation (bet they’re adding in more security measures as a response to this PSN stuff). But if hackers wanted to hack it, they would.


That may have been Sony’s problem; yes, this should have never happened in the first place.  But really, who would have really thought that Sony would be worth the trouble to hack? Microsoft seems like such a better target with all those subscribers, most of whom likely have all that nice credit card info sitting on their accounts. But as I’ve been reminded, Microsoft created Live with the intent for it to be what it is. Sony made PSN (or more than likely hired another company to create it for them) to have a means of offering more (via digital download) and maybe making some extra cash off of it (regardless of what they or we may say, it was never meant to be direct competition for XBL. If it was, it wouldn’t have been free for so long, if at all). Their intent and the level they currently exist at are so different, it’s silly for people to compare over which is better.


However, I think the greatest differences between XBL & PSN are the number of active users and ultimately the familiarity of those users with the interface. It doesn’t necessarily make one better than the other, regardless of whether you pay for it or not.


At this point (not knowing what Sony is going to do with PSN), I would suggest hoarding money between now and the launch of the PS4 (or whatever) to give the entire thing an upgrade then.  They could upgrade it now and I’m sure that may help them improve their image a bit.  But as a user, I don’t have too much issue with the current interface they use, so I’d rather they wait and give me something good later instead of a half-way done thing now. (If the upgrade brought PSN to the same level as XBL, to really compete with it, I might even be convinced to pay for it.)


So do me a favor and stop wasting time trying to compare them. It’s like comparing….you know what, let’s not go there.

/rant complete


About ladyluck

Co-host & Editor - Mandy Paez has been cruising the scenes at community and industry events with Gamertag Radio for over 4 years. While young, her cookie eating and argument skills become known quite often on the weekly podcast.
  • WhoDat?

    Amen bro,

  • mic_09

    no one seems to remember when xbox went down for about 2 weeks around xmas a few years do they but god forbid ps3 does the same thing im personally in the smae boat i have both consoles and i really dont care but i feel the ps3 cops to much negativity for what it is its FREE you can play games online in the same way 360 users can

    • peterocc

      its been commented on before. here and on twitter.

      XBL wasn’t down completely. that was due to overloaded service during the holiday. those that could connect were able to play online.

      Sonys outage is/was due to a malicious attack by hackers and Sony attempting to fix or recreate PSN.

  • Esmeralda

    Great article :D

    I hate the comparison of the two services and I’ve been saying this all along! But then people call me a Sony fangirl and dismiss my argument (this is another gripe I have about the gaming world, we can’t say our opinions without being classed a fanboy of some sort). They’re not comparable due to the very same issues you addressed in your article, and people that continue to think they are end up looking silly to me. I’m sure with the next console Sony launches, their online experience will be different because they’ll have the PS3′s to look back at and try to improve from there. I’m willing to pay for PSN if it means a better service all around (there needs to be quite a few changes).

    In regards to the PS2, I didn’t even know mines had online capability when I bought it lol

    But as a (really long) side note… I do want to address the first thing you mentioned in your article, although that’s not what your article was about.

    “understand that the biggest mistake from Sony concerning this hacking situation is their lack of straightforward and immediate communication”

    Sony’s Patrick Seybold went on record to say:
    “I wanted to take this opportunity to clarify a point and answer one of the most frequently asked questions today.

    There’s a difference in timing between when we identified there was an intrusion and when we learned of consumers’ data being compromised. We learned there was an intrusion April 19th and subsequently shut the services down. We then brought in outside experts to help us learn how the intrusion occurred and to conduct an investigation to determine the nature and scope of the incident. It was necessary to conduct several days of forensic analysis, and it took our experts until yesterday to understand the scope of the breach. We then shared that information with our consumers and announced it publicly this afternoon.”

    They can’t be straightforward and immediate with the masses when they themselves don’t understand what is going on and are in the middle of an investigation. Having constant updates saying, “We don’t know yet! Still looking!” would be just as helpful as not telling us anything at all… They did not know the extent of the situation at the time, and telling everyone there MIGHT be a compromise of your info to then later find out there wasn’t one causes people to go hysterical. So in actuality, it seems like people were not going to be happy either way.

    Just look at the people who reacted to the credit card possibility. In the e-mails (which are still being sent out… it takes a while to reach 74 million people when a lot of those people don’t have their credit cards on record so Sony has to filter through the addresses) and FAQ’s they officially stated: “While there is no evidence at this time that credit card data was taken, we cannot rule out the possibility.” An investigation takes a while to conduct, and people are expecting Sony to act faster when in reality that’s just not feasible (

    Sony may be at fault for something, but I just don’t think this lack of communication everyone keeps spouting is really one of them.

    BUT ignoring all that :P Great article, keep up the good work ^.^

    • ladyluck34

      Great points. In general, for the communication part I just meant them saying “Hey! Our system is down and we know it. We’re working on it.” To my knowledge, it took a couple days before they threw something like that out. I brought up the email because people who aren’t big gamers like us probably only called customer service, if they did anything. Sending out an email via the addresses we use for our PS names with a similar message to the above would have probably helped calm some people down. :D

    • peterocc

      The part people keep forgetting is that MS is a software development company first. They have been in the business for longer than most gamers have been alive today. Sony’s forte has always been about hardware until recently with PSN.

      That being said, MS understands the risks and pitfalls of software as a service (XBL) and knows how to promote and distribute that with less problems or challenges. With the paid service, they are able to dedicate more resources to improving that service .

      Unfortunately, Sony’s inexperience in the field coupled with PSN initially being free doesnt provide Sony with a better chance to provide a solid product. With Sony barely scratching profit on PS3 as a whole with the PSN+ providing income to that department it can now start to further develop and improve PSN. Too bad their resources werent spread out properly to address this before PSN went down.

      • Esmeralda

        Why didn’t you have this sense of understanding back when I brought it up on Twitter? Now that ladyluck makes this article you’re suddenly understanding as to why PSN is not exactly comparable to PSN (from the points she mentioned, to the ones you elaborated on). Silly Peter

        • peterocc

          Somethings are easier to comprehend in more than 140 characters. I still feel XBL is the better service. Besides being more established and secure they offer more than PSN. Even if PSN were to improve (post relaunch) I doubt I would pay. I rarely play ours (Pixel Junk Eden) use it more as a BluRay player. Plus everyone I play with is on XBL. Our daughter Sophia plays it more than we do. Fat Princess mostly.

  • Esmeralda

    Wasn’t that due to an overloaded system? That’s completely different from a hack… And you’re doing exactly what Ladyluck is mad about here. Stop comparing both

  • Blip74

    great article.

  • Plmko

    Ironically this “rant” is more sensible than a lot of trash I’ve gone through.

  • Richard A. Lucas

    Though, I’ve never compared or been bias against both service, I never thought of the difference between both companies.

    “If you feel it necessary to preach that XBL is much better, let me argue with different logic. Microsoft has been dealing with networks, software and operating systems for years. They have history in interfaces & ease of use (being hacked and security as well). What does Sony mostly work in? Cameras, computers (just the hardware people) and TVs/home entertainment (when we say home, we mean things like Blue Ray players). The history and experience of these two companies, regardless of what gaming systems they offer & compete with, are vastly different.”

    But it sounds that you agree that Xbl is better ;-). I kidd. I plan on buying on as well in July to play with some of my family members that has one themselves. Great read.

  • Josh Johnson

    great article. i agree no point in arguing about it. my only complaint about psn to xbl that IMO that xbl is better is the incorporation of party chat and psn failure to have to it. But since it is a free service i don’t worry about it, and if it was offered for the paid service. It would not make me play it as I rarely play online with my ps3 minus LBP2

    • Mvscotty

      Party chat is present on the PSN Do definitely don’t know what your talking about.

      • Josh Johnson

        Yes party is in just a chat room. If you want to play different games or one person play a game and the other not you can no be in the same chat room. They don’t have a underlining chat system existing outside of the games.

        • Josh Johnson

          I stand partially corrected. It seems unclear if it is incorporated yet but has to be initiated by a PSN+ member. Thus why i had no knowledge of this.