AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
Today marks the release of the first new console of the holiday season, the Sony PlayStation 4.
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UNIDENTIFIED MAN: You all ready to race? Let's race.
CORNISH: The PS4 will be followed next week by Microsoft's new Xbox One. As NPR's Laura Sydell reports, after more than seven years without new consoles from either company, a growing market of gamers is eagerly waiting.
LAURA SYDELL, BYLINE: Don't look for Josh Callender at work the day the Xbox One hits stores.
JOHN CALLENDER: I pre-ordered the day-one edition console and I'm planning to take the day off to play it all day. So...
SYDELL: Not surprisingly, a big attraction to the Xbox One for Callender, the games.
CALLENDER: There's just a great number of games that are Xbox exclusive that I don't think that the PS4 has.
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UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: (As character) On me. Move.
SYDELL: Among the new games on the Xbox is "Ryse: Son of Rome," which takes advantage of the Kinect, the motion and voice sensor controller that comes with the Xbox. Yusuf Mehdi is chief marketing and business office for Xbox.
YUSUF MEHDI: In "Ryse," you can use voice commands because in "Ryse" you command a Roman army. And so you can say assemble on me, and the troops come and assemble on you.
SYDELL: Mehdi says in other games, you'll be able to control a character by moving your body. The Kinect also lets people turn features off and on using their voice. The Xbox One has Skype incorporated so you can communicate while playing games and watching TV. And it can record and share great moments of game playing. I tried the race car game "Forza 5."
MEHDI: I don't know. You're driving pretty fast already. I think you're a natural, Laura.
SYDELL: Oh, no. I don't think so. I think - oh, wow.
MEHDI: Good luck on this turn.
SYDELL: Oh, shoot. No.
SYDELL: My crash was recorded for posterity.
MEHDI: So if you did a spectacular move like you did there, we can go ahead and say, record that and capture that. And now we can edit and upload that clip.
SYDELL: Do you have to?
SYDELL: I can crack up a car and share it with my friends just as easily on the new Sony PlayStation 4. That's one of the features that's got Andrew Hillemeyer excited to buy a new PlayStation.
ANDREW HILLEMEYER: With this, it's going to be a lot more of, I'm in a game. Something cool is happening. Hey, dude, get in the game. And then all of a sudden you send an invite with a little shot of what's happening, and next thing you know, your friend's right next to you in the game with you. They've just streamlined that entire thing.
SYDELL: Both the PS4 and the Xbox One will let you listen to your choice of music as you play, though Hillemeyer says he's pondering how to use that feature.
HILLEMEYER: I do like classical music but I just don't feel like that would be fitting - well, it might be fitting for driving cars maybe, a little bit of Brahms, a little bit of something.
SYDELL: Perhaps. The last new PlayStation came out seven years ago, a year after the Xbox. Now, these two consoles are launching within a week of each other, and that's great says Chelsea Stark, who reports on games for the website Mashable.
CHELSEA STARK: It's going to lead to a lot of competition and it's only going to be good for gamers. They try to outdo each other and release the best game or the best app, actually the best all-around experience, too.
SYDELL: It's been a long time since new consoles have gotten people excited and that may be one reason game sales have been down. Jesse Divnich, with the research firm EEDAR, thinks there's a lot of pent-up demand. A few weeks ago, "Grand Theft Auto V" sold a record $1 billion worth of games in three days.
JESSE DIVNICH: We know the market is bigger and more thirsty than it ever has been before. So we do expect in the short term that these consoles are going to outsell their predecessors.
SYDELL: But one challenge for the console makers is that games are expanding to mobile, and there are increasingly sophisticated games for high-powered PCs. Gamers like Anthony Surace used to play console games. But this time, he's not waiting in line for a new console.
ANTHONY SURACE: At the end of the day, it's just like, yeah, all these features are nice. But I could do them with a PC and potentially do them more efficiently or better.
SYDELL: The new consoles are likely to be a big draw for serious gamers who've been waiting a long time for them. But once that initial rush is over, Sony and Microsoft will have to work a lot harder to expand beyond the hard-core market. Laura Sydell, NPR News.
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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
With the release of a new electronic device apparently comes a wave of what are called un-boxing videos. We invite you to see our own Nina Totenberg wrestle the mean to mat, un-boxing the PS4. It's at our new gaming Tumblr, nprplays.tumblr.com.
CORNISH: This is NPR News.