Microsoft Xbox One and Sony PlayStation 4 next-generation consoles will launch later this month. And as part of their pre-launch, pre-Christmas marketing blitz, both companies are pushing the public and the media to give their new hardware and games a try ahead of time.

The competition for new customers is fierce, since anyone who buys a $499 Xbox One this year is unlikely to shell out another $399 for a PS4 and vice versa. Both console makers are clearly hoping that a little close physical contact with their systems will help win over customers undecided about which to buy and ensure they will spend their money on games and media for that console for years to come. Both systems are already available for pre-order.

Microsoft is holding an Xbox One media event in Toronto on Tuesday, saying it welcomes journalists to “meet” its new gaming and entertainment system. 

Members of the public will also have ample opportunities to get acquainted with the new Xbox before it launches on Nov. 22.  

Since Oct. 1, Microsoft has been touring North America with four “decked out” Xbox One trucks, inviting the public to come in and play upcoming titles such as Forza Motorsport 5, Ryse: Son of Rome, Dead Rising 3, Battlefield 4 and FIFA 14.  It has also been holding special “Area One” parties in some cities including Toronto, featuring live music and open only to those over age 18.

Games E3 Sony

The PlayStation 4 launches Nov. 15, but you can try it before then at malls in Toronto, Calgary and Montreal. (Jae C. Hong/Associated Press)

Since Oct. 17, customers have been invited to try Xbox One at select Future Shop stores, and Best Buy locations across the country are holding Xbox One “demo days” starting Nov. 7.

Meanwhile, Sony opened three “PS4 Experience” pop-up stores on Nov. 1, two weeks ahead of the new console’s Nov. 15 launch. The PlayStation blog announced that the stores are at:

  • Toronto’s Scarborough Town Centre.
  • Calgary’s Southcentre Mall.
  • Montreal’s Complex Les Ailes.

They are scheduled to remain open until Jan. 5, giving the public a chance to try games that include Killzone Shadow Fall, Knack, Trine 2 and Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag.