Game Changer: How PS4 and Xbox One will transform a growing British sector

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The new Playstation 4. Photo: Sony

Behind the glossy graphics of the demo games on the new Playstation 4 and Xbox One, there is a real life clash of giants.

As Sony and Microsoft announce new systems, they are drawing battle lines for the Christmas market. Here in the UK, the news has generated excitement and high expectations - it seems this is a game where the odds are stacked in Britain's favour.

Today I spoke to Ed Fear, Games Developer with Mediatonic in London, he told me:

People have become tired and bored of the systems they have.

So having these two new systems launching will bring about some playground-style competition.

People will side with either Sony or Microsoft - and that's really important for us as a UK industry because it will get people excited and playing games.

The industry statistics are amazing.

  • After Japan and the US, the UK is the third biggest consumer market for computer games.
  • UK developers already generate just under £1 billion a year.
  • 34 million of us play games on a regular basis.
  • There is a staggering 55 million hours of gaming in the UK every day.

The aim is to move beyond being consumers - to increasingly become creators of this digital content and the launch of two powerful new systems opens up potential sales markets.

Leamington Spa is a clue to the future of games development in the UK. It's become known as "Silicon Spa", with 75% of digital firms there already been in gaming.

It's this sort of "creative cluster" that Britain does well. Small development firms like the one in Leamington Spa will benefit disproportionately from the new systems.

Andrew Oliver, a games Developer at Blitz Studio in the town told us:

We have a great creative heritage. I started on the old days of the Sinclair Spectrum, we have a lot of people who have grown up on those computers and gone into the games industry...far more than the US and Japan.

An explosion of productivity in games developing worldwide is predicted. But Britain, know for it quirky creativity, seems certain to capitalise on these game changing new outlets.

How the Xbox One and PS4 compare:

Playstation 4 features

The new Playstation 4. Credit: Sony
  • Sony said the "gaming experience" is at the heart of its latest console.
  • Playstation 4 will come with a feature that will allow gamers to broadcast a live stream of their play, users will not have to sign in online.
  • The company has also promised to develop Cloud technology to enable users to play their old games via the internet.
  • PS4 provides access to social networks including Facebook and Twitter and a "share" button will allow users to post gameplay footage and screen shots.
  • The DualShock 4 controller has a touchpad, a headphone socket and a light bar which can be tracked by a camera to detect where the player is.
  • Sony revealed that more than 30 PS4 titles are in development and an extra 20 are planned to launch in the console's first year.
  • The console, which will have eight gigabytes of memory, will be priced at $399 in the US and £349 in the UK and will go on sale in the Autumn.

Xbox One features

A graphic representation of the Xbox One. Credit: Microsoft
  • Microsoft said the console is an "all-in-one system" for games, live television, films and music.
  • The Xbox One can be voice and motion-controlled and it comes with a new Kinect camera which can analyse body movements and read a user's heartbeat when exercising.
  • It comes with a blu-ray drive and Skype.
  • Xbox One features include "snap mode" which allows users to run two programmes at once, "trending" which shows users which games and television shows are popular with friends and "twitch" which enables players to broadcast their gaming sessions live online.
  • The console has eight gigabytes of memory and will feature 15 exclusive games.
  • It will go on sale in the UK priced at £429.