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Sony’s PlayStation 5 Reveal shows a differing strategy than Microsoft’s Xbox Series X

Sony’s PlayStation 5 Reveal shows a differing strategy than Microsoft’s Xbox Series X

Sony’s PlayStation 5 Reveal shows a differing strategy than Microsoft’s Xbox Series X
June 20
12:00 2020

The PlayStation 5 reveal has officially come and gone, and it’s left many a critic and fan in awe and excitement. In the reveal there was a great deal of fan service, combining reveals of both sequels and new IPs in equal measure alongside the new console. ‘Ratchet and Clank,’ a franchise that has been present in the Sony ecosystem since the days of the PlayStation 2, unveiled a new title, “Rift Apart.” They also showed other and more recent Sony IPs as well, including completely new, fully next-gen titles. “Horizon Zero Dawn,” one of the PlayStation 4’s best-selling games, saw the unveiling of a sequel dubbed “Horizon: Forbidden West.” This was the most impressive game in the showcase and what will most likely sell many on pre-ordering the actual console.

Speaking of, price is one of the only things that Sony did not address. Having unveiled two variations of the PS5, with the all-digital edition hopefully as the cheaper alternative, Sony has nearly finalized the visible road map going forward. 2018 was the first year to exhibit higher digital sales than physical across the board, which is very exciting. However, with many reporting on heightened difficulties in manufacturing due to COVID-19, the price point for the console is up for debate. There might be a hike in price because of this, so you can imagine the digital edition will be both cheaper and the more desired of the two. Regardless, they have a visible and adaptive understanding of the trends going forward.

Having already known the technical breakdown of both respective consoles, let’s avoid comparing the two from a more traditional sense.

With Sony having unveiled its flagship console earlier this week, the excitement is now on full march into the assumed November release window. Microsoft showed off their idea of “next generation” as well earlier this year. Sony, whose got a more conventional approach to console releases, is lined up to have their console be the domineering technological force for the first 18 months of the next-gen.

Understanding their fundamental loss in terms of console sales versus Sony was a key piece of context in being able to identify Microsoft’s plan going forward after the poor sales and marketing of the Xbox One. Having changed the focus entirely from “TV and sports” to accessibility for the gamer, Microsoft has slowly changed the direction of their boat into a less-generation specific model. While the PS5 exists solely to play next-gen, (save for a few backward compatible titles), Microsoft has made it clear that for the first year and a half, console exclusivity will be more abstract. Games made by third-party developers on next-gen will also need to be playable on current-gen Xbox consoles, as a means for maintaining a system that is easier to jump into. This means controllers for Xbox are also forward and backward compatible. Combine that with Microsoft’s subscription service, Xbox Game Pass, and the capabilities to play every game from this current-gen on the new system, Microsoft shows a little bit more appeal. In fact, hundreds of Xbox 360 titles, as well as dozens of original Xbox titles will also be backward compatible at launch.

Herein lies where we meet a vaguely familiar, yet fundamentally different time, compared to any release of consoles prior. The case to be made was always “who has the best first-party games?” and since it’s shifted into “what is the more pragmatic and accessible system.” The two companies have begun to wander in different directions concerning their market share.

This shift in how we access and pay for games is far more consumer-friendly when using subscription services offered by Microsoft, even if it means Sony has a bit of a graphical leg up for the first 18 months. The number of playable titles on day one regarding Microsoft’s console will surely outnumber Sony’s lineup, though to be fair, many of these are of course older and graphically less impressive.

This generation the two consoles won’t really push for the same thing initially, and depending on where you land, you could get a very different starting experience. That’s why the most important question for a semi-broke college student is which system at launch is going to offer the most bang for your buck. That is a massively important question, as the concern regarding these console’s prices is totally warranted, and slightly concerning.

Regardless, it’s a safe wager to say these consoles will see a slow moving attach rate, and there is an ever-present looming conversation about these being the last “traditional” consoles in the gaming space, though the same was said for the PS4 and the Xbox One. Time will tell all, and answers to these questions will finally be answered come November.

Featured Illustration: Olivia Varnell

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Zachary Helms

Zachary Helms

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