Given that neither the Xbox Series X nor the PlayStation 5 has come out yet, this discussion is purely theoretical. Both sides still have ample time to blow the crowd away before the holiday season arrives.
DOING THE RECON
Impressions mean a lot when it comes to gaming reveals, and it’s especially so when new consoles are on the line. After all, people want to see what the “new generation” is capable of, and if your first impression doesn’t make a big splash, it might very well put you on the back foot from the get-go.
Unfortunately for Microsoft, the current community sentiment is falling in favour of Sony, and the only thing the Xbox Series X has got going for itself at the moment is its superior specs over the PlayStation 5. Based on numbers alone, Microsoft unveiled a total of 21 new games during their showcase, while Sony showed us a total of 26.
So, what did Sony do better than Microsoft? Is it just because they showed off more games? Not exactly. My guess is that it all has to do with the impressions both tech giants made, and Microsoft didn’t really hit the bar Sony set a month prior.
If you recall, the latter didn’t have a “cover boy” game like Microsoft did with Halo Infinite, but where the ball really started rolling downhill was when Infinite didn’t wow the crowds as much as the latter expected it to, and the community eventually deemed its current aesthetics lacklustre compared to stuff like Spider-Man: Miles Morales. In Microsoft’s defence, they did come forward to say that the footage was still a work-in-progress, but then again, wasn’t it the same for most, if not all of Sony’s reveals?
As things stand, it certainly sounds like Microsoft is playing on the defensive right now, but it’s not like they don’t have anything in their corner to push back. The company did show off some great games, such as Fatshark’s Warhammer 40,000 Darktide and Obsidian Entertainment’s Avowed, among others, but having two or three standout titles doesn’t win you the war. This last bit applies to Sony more than it does Microsoft, actually - let’s see why.
BASED ON NUMBERS ALONE, MICROSOFT UNVEILED A TOTAL OF 21 NEW GAMES DURING THEIR SHOWCASE, WHILE SONY SHOWED US A TOTAL OF 26.
EXCLUSIVITY VERSUS ACCESSIBILITY
Many of us are familiar with the adage “A jack of all trades, and master of none” - it’s often used to describe someone who’s okay at generally everything but doesn’t do anything spectacularly well. However, not many people know about the second bit “but it’s better than being a master of one”. This is where our next branch of comparisons between Microsoft and Sony’s showcases comes in - is it really better to have a more diverse skillset and not be the best at it, or going all in on one aspect and doing it very well? To answer that, let’s go over what we think of each company’s general game plan.
Let’s start with Sony and the PlayStation 5. At this point, the general outlook is that they’re putting a lot of emphasis on this “next generation”, and as such have taken a stance that focuses heavily on pushing out top-shelf exclusives. They do have some measure of backwards compatibility, but according to current information, it’s limited to select titles from the PS4 era. Apart from that, a lot of their games moving forward will be intended purely for the PS5, and this strategy remains the same as the one from previous generations of consoles - give players only the best that the console can deliver.
Meanwhile, Microsoft seems to be taking the more diversified approach via the Xbox Game Pass. A few of their existing games, such as Ori and the Will of the Wisps and Destiny 2 are getting updated versions dedicated for the Xbox Series X, on top of Smart Delivery-compatible titles such as Cyberpunk 2077. This comes on top of their more extensive backwards compatibility, which states that even games from the original Xbox console can be played on the Series X.
Coupled with the immense value of the Xbox Game Pass, which we largely consider to be the most value-for-money gaming subscription right now, and their announcement that the Series X won’t have console exclusives for the two years following launch, it ties in very well with their strategy to build loyalty over the long term. In fact, Microsoft seems to be marketing the Game Pass service even more than the Series X itself, and as such it’s pretty obvious what their endgame is. We can’t fault them for it, though - the Game Pass is the embodiment of gaming value at the moment, but whether it’ll retain its shine in future depends on what Microsoft tosses into the mixing bowl.
So, which approach is better? It all depends on which you value more. Do you want to always have the best and only play the best, or would you prefer trading a little “exclusivity” for a wider variety of playable content? It’s up to you.
The battle continues.
IS IT REALLY BETTER TO HAVE A MORE DIVERSE SKILLSET AND NOT BE THE BEST AT IT, OR GOING ALL IN ON ONE ASPECT AND DOING IT VERY WELL? TO ANSWER THAT, LET’S GO OVER WHAT WE THINK OF EACH COMPANY’S GENERAL GAME PLAN.
PICTURES SONY, MICROSOFT