With back-to-back events at the E3 video game conference on Monday in Los Angeles, both Microsoft and Sony had opportunities to show off what their next-generation consoles -- the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, respectively -- can do.
But if those scowls you hear echoing across the Internet are any indication, it appears many gamers have already chosen a winner, even five months from release: the PlayStation 4.
Over on Reddit's r/Gaming subreddit, large parts of the 3.2 million member community openly embraced the PS4 over the Xbox One. Former PlayStation users who became turncoats boasted about returning while Xbox lovers used Master Chief memes to say their goodbyes to the Xbox. And professional observers, like those at Gizmodo, have even given PlayStation 4 the decisive, albeit cautiously early, victory.
These critics, who haven't tried out either system, may still have a point.
Leading up to E3, much of the trouble with the new Xbox dealt with Microsoft's prolonged vagueness about how the console will work. Then last week, Microsoft finally confirmed some of gamers worst fears. Xbox One owners will need to connect the system once every 24 hours to the Internet in order to play games and there are ambiguous, restrictive guidelines on how used games can be bought, resold or loaned. Gamers were nearly unanimous in their outrage -- and were waiting this week to see if the PS4 would have similar policies.
Sony heard these cries loud and clear and used them to their advantage at E3. During their presentation, Sony's announcement that it would have no restrictions on used games and avoid a once-a-day connection to play games, saw the crowd go into a frenzy several times over. Sony's President and CEO Jack Tretton was visibly overjoyed with the crowd's reaction, knowing he'd played Sony's hand just right.
Piling on, Sony delivered the figurative uppercut with a tongue-in-cheek short clip of "How To Share Your Games On PS4" that showed one man simply handing a PlayStation 4 game to another man. In addition, the PlayStation 4 will be region-free, unlike the Xbox One, meaning PS4 owners can easily use games outside the country in which they were purchased. Though gamers may prefer that freedom, publishers probably prefer the Xbox One's more restrictive model, which will invariably lead to more games sold.
Both companies finally revealed prices, and Sony won that war as well. The Xbox One will be $499 and the PlayStation 4 will be $399. Though Xbox One is bundled with the $110 Kinect, it's relatively unclear how much gamers actually want the accessory. To boot, an analysis by Digital Foundry indicates PlayStation 4 has more raw graphical power.
For Xbox loyalists, the higher price point may be justified. The Xbox One is being billing as an all-in-one entertainment system capable of seamlessly switching between games, cable, Internet and Skype. Microsoft has an exclusive, reportedly $400 million deal to show NFL games and, of course, the very popular "Halo" game series to entice would-be PS4 buyers.
But if the early and vocal reaction to the two systems is any indication, Microsoft has a tough slog ahead of it before its November release.