With the next generation of gaming consoles coming up towards the end of the year, everyone will be asking themselves one simple question: PlayStation 5? Or Xbox Series X? There is no question that the PlayStation 4 ran away with this last generation for a wide variety of reasons, but we now turn towards the future and what that will entail.
Usually, whenever you see these kinds of debates, it’s fair to say that the writer might have some biases towards one particular side. As such, we brought fellow staff writer Callum Marshall on board to hold an actual discussion and speculate about the upcoming generation. Callum will be taking the PlayStation 5’s side while I, Michael Solseth, will be advocating for the Xbox Series X.
Let’s get started.
PlayStation 5 — Question 1: Sharing Information for the Future
Michael: So let’s start off simple and talk about the information we have collected from both companies thus far. Microsoft has been quite generous with the Xbox Series X details, but Sony has been rather reserved. Do you think this is a concern? Or does Sony have nothing to worry about?
Callum: If this were the last generation I would absolutely agree. Sony would be in a position where they would have to prove to the consumer that they were worth investing in. However, due to the runaway success of the PS4 this generation, Sony is in a unique position where they don’t need to advertise their product or serve any gimmicks to the public. The majority of console owners already have a PlayStation system. They have a library of games that will transfer to their new system. They have yearly PS Plus subscriptions.
Sony has no reason to chase the competition provided that when the time comes for the PS5’s details to be shared that Sony makes sure they do it right. They have nothing to prove to a service rather than a competing console.
Xbox Series X — Question 1: Plans for a Future Success
Callum: The TripleJump Podcast recently discussed Microsoft‘s future, with their focus placed firmly on Xbox’s more holistic entertainment system approach. They have suggested that with Xbox’s successful Game Pass and various system activities appealing to all demographics that Microsoft may eventually opt for a transition to a service provider rather than a competing console, with the possibility of even being an app available on the PlayStation in the future. With this in mind, do you feel that this is Microsoft‘s last push to be the market leader?
Microsoft’s Last Push?
Michael: While it would be nice forthe Xbox Series X to become the next worldwide market leader, it’s safe to say that probably won’t happen.
That’s not to say that Microsoft should throw in the towel — as you said earlier, their approach to console development will be different from Sony‘s. It’s important to have titles and features that will drive consumers your way, but the exclusives you have to offer are paramount. In a way, we’ve seen this in action with Microsoft titles being put on a Nintendo platform, such as Minecraft, Ori and the Blind Forest, and Cuphead. And there’s more to come after the Series X Launch.
If Microsoft were to become a market leader, it probably wouldn’t be as a worldwide leader. Rather, there could be a greater focus on meeting specific demands and delivering as best and efficiently as possible. The best example I can think of is how Killer Instinct‘s netcode has been seen as one of the best among fighting games. Microsoft’s online service is also more stable and has fewer outages.
If Sony aims for the more “hardcore” among us, we could say that Microsoft’s approach is a bit more casual. When you have a library that can allow the casual player to play tons of games at little cost, it’s hard to argue against the value on the table for casual gamers. And that’s not even taking the upcoming Project xCloud into consideration.
PlayStation 5 — Question 2: To Stream Games
Mike: Since we were talking about the Game Pass, let’s talk about one of the services Sony provides. If there is one thing that many have complimented the Xbox One for towards the end of this generation, it’s the introduction of the Xbox Game Pass. While Sony does have PS Now, do you think that they need to do more with the service if it hopes to compete with the Game Pass?
Callum: Whilst PS Plus has its flaws, it isn’t completely without merit. Most of the issues lie in the technical aspects of the service, which I feel they’ll iron out with the new system’s offerings. However, its success lies in its library of downloadable games which are much more plentiful than they were a year ago. For example, this month they offer an opportunity to play Game of the Year nominee Control. For absolutely nothing.
Plus, it offers a library of PS4-exclusives in one neat and affordable package. The Xbox can’t do this simply because they have too few exclusives to fill a library for gamers to peruse. Time will tell if the service can fix the technical issues and appease those that enjoy streaming older games. However, the service has vastly improved over time and can only get better.
Xbox Series X — Question 2: Exclusive Titles
Callum: Let’s address the elephant in the room. Many gamers can only afford to invest in one $500+ system, so do you feel that Microsoft can offer a range of exclusive content to make their console worth buying over the PS5?
Mike: If there was one thing that Microsoft was really lacking this generation, it was exclusives. They did have some good titles to their name, of course, but the problem was that they were few and far between. Sony, however, had a wide range of special titles. Even just this year, we’re getting Final Fantasy 7 Remake, The Last of Us Part II, and Ghosts of Tsushima.
The biggest issue with the Xbox One’s launch was a lack of focus on those exclusive titles. It was originally intended to be an “entertainment center”, and it sadly shows when you look at how they marketed it before launch. But we can say with some reassurance that this will not be a mistake that will be repeated twice when the Series X launches. Over the last few years, Microsoft has taken a couple of steps to ensure that there are several studios under Xbox Game Studios working on games exclusive to the platform — 15 in total.
Will that mean we will get 15+ exclusive titles at the launch of the Series X? Probably not. But this shows that there is a dedicated group that will ensure that there will be titles. Whether if you choose to play on the Series X or the PC, if you are playing those games with Microsoft’s name on it, you are technically supporting their push towards the next-gen.
PlayStation 5 — Question 3: Virtual Reality
Michael: If there’s something we can compliment Sony about regarding their approach to accessories, it’s that the PSVR probably won’t be a mandatory purchase (unlike what happened with the Xbox One and the Kinect). As we approach the next generation though, it doesn’t look like Microsoft will aim for any special gimmicks this time while Sony might be doubling down on bringing the VR experience to the PS5. Do you think we could be seeing a “PSVR 2.0” sometime in the future to further enhance the virtual reality experience? And would Sony continue to make a push for VR as an additional selling point for their next console?
A Necessity for the Next Generation?
Callum: I think VR is an absolutely huge consideration when moving forward. VR is still in its infancy but has made leaps and bounds in the last few years. Many virtual reality experiences are available for free. Plus, those that invest in PS Plus get free VR games. So it’s a great time to be a VR headset owner.
The question is whether or not Sony will up the ante and continue producing hardware to support the phenomenon. There has to be a level of caution exercised with these types of systems, as the Kinect so aptly demonstrated. One wrong move and the whole thing is dead in the water.
It will also depend heavily on the success of the upcoming Half-Life installment. If Alyx is half as amazing as it promises to be, it could be the springboard that the platform needs to become a common household system worldwide.
The simple answer is no — I don’t think Sony will attempt to rock the boat too much in terms of new hardware. However, I do think that they will continue to champion the initiative as they have been. This should be enough to give them a leg up on the competition if the platform does have a massive surge of popularity.
Xbox Series X — Question 3: Multiple Consoles
Callum: There’s speculation that Microsoft may offer a budget version of the console at a lower price point. Is it a worry that these consumers will be sold a system that doesn’t offer many of the game-changing features that are in place to sway PS4 owners to the Xbox?
Two Versions at Launch?
Mike: Whenever a console has multiple versions available, there will always be notable differences to compensate for the change in price. It could be what we saw with the Nintendo Switch where the cheaper option can’t dock to a TV or how the PS4 Pro or the Xbox One X are “Enhanced” versions of their 2013 counterparts.
I wouldn’t stress about the features that might or might not come to the separate versions of the Xbox Series X. I’ll be satisfied as long as they do what they’re supposed to do: play games. The biggest thing here, though, is figuring out how much people would pay if they were to put the money out there for a cheaper option. In this case, there’s only one way I see that happening: going diskless.
To be clear: we should always live in an age of gaming where physical copies are available for purchase at all times, since digital copies could be taken down at any time. But we live in a far more digital age than we did back in 2013, and one can argue that there are just as many people buying their games digitally as there are people who get them on a disk or a cartridge. And if you were to tell people that they can save $50-100 by leaving out the tray, while having access to the same specs and hassle-free storage and shopping, then that could be enough to sway some over towards it.
Of course, that is if we were to see two versions of the Series X. If there isn’t, then it will be another simple 1v1.
Xbox Series X
Michael: It would be easy to dismiss the next console coming from Microsoft for a wide variety of reasons. We could say, “They haven’t learned their lesson from the beat down they got from the PS4,” or “Their focus should be more on the games instead of the tech.”
If nothing else, I’ll say that some are expecting the Xbox Series X launch to be the same as the Xbox One’s back in 2013, and that is a big mistake. The choices made for the platform were clearly the wrong ones and it baffles the mind why they would think that console would’ve been accepted by consumers. Since then though, we’ve seen them take steps to fix their errors and to go even further than what Sony might consider doing. From crossplay to the Xbox Game Pass, and even the number of studios working under the Xbox Game Studios umbrella, there is that commitment to make the next generation even better.
Most importantly of all is how Microsoft isn’t going to force players to adapt to the times or force them into “missing out” at launch. It might sound like a poor choice to have games that could be exclusive for the Series X be available on the Xbox One for the first few years. But then you have Smart Delivery, a “system that will ensure that you only have to pay once and you can carry over the experience with the enhanced visuals at no extra cost.” It’s something that even CD Projekt Red will consider for Cyberpunk 2077.
Hopefully, these will be the first steps to making the Xbox Series X an incredible platform for this upcoming generation.
Callum: My final thoughts are that Sony has very little to worry about coming into this new generation. They have fantastic exclusive IPs and their hardware will match that of the Series X, or at least get very close. They have the majority share of the gaming landscape already and a series of side projects like PSVR will only continue improving. I don’t see how you stop the speeding locomotive that is the PS5 ynless they were to completely de-rail themselves somehow.
Sony has grown in maturity as a company. They are in the same bracket as Nintendo now; they have nothing to prove. Sony is doing things their own way at their own pace. One example is their move from conferences to their own State of Play announcements. The likes of Stadia and Xbox have a point to prove. They need to be proactive and provide a response. Sony can sit back and bide their time, making sure they dot their i’s and cross their t’s.
The Xbox will most likely be the better system for those that enjoy aspects outside of conventional gaming — things like streaming, watching other media, and other entertainment system assets. However, what we are talking about here is a gaming system. So with that in mind, I have no doubt in my mind that if you are looking for the optimum way to enjoy playing games, the PS5 will be the better system.
Which Console Will Thrive in the Next Generation?
While this might seem like a console war discussion, it’s fair to say that in the end, the choice of the gaming console is solely on you. This discussion wasn’t intended to imply that one system is or will be superior. Rather, we wanted to offer different thoughts and perspectives on what the future of gaming will be as we move through this next decade. Regardless of how many people might flood towards their chosen side, don’t feel like you have to be pressured into the same group. Choose who you feel will provide you with a better experience. And if that happens to be the same console as the previous generation, then that simply means you trust them to continue to providing the services they give.
Should the next generation excel over the current generation? Absolutely. We should be paying for more than just a “2.0 System.” Players want to know what’s next for their favorite series and jump into brand new titles that we have never come to imagine. It won’t be perfect, but hopefully, the console makers will keep the consumers’ best interests in mind (or we will have another “How To Play Used Games”-style teaser to drive the point home).
What do you think? What argument points would you make for picking up a PS5 or Xbox Series X? Were the questions fair for both writers? And would you like to see more co-op discussions like this in the future? Leave your thoughts down below and be sure to follow us here at Culture of Gaming for more articles on the gaming world and what’s to come for the next generation.
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