The ridiculous game of chicken between Microsoft and Sony is finally over. Within a span of a few weeks in September both companies finally came out and revealed the price and release date for all of their next-gen console offerings.
I hope that one day we find out the real reason behind the delay, but for now it’s time to put that in the past and focus on the wealth of new information revealed about the new home consoles.
Now that we know everything there is to know for each console at launch, gamers can start to decide which console is right for them.
This will be my third console generation now where I’m choosing and purchasing my own video game consoles. In the past, I would labor over which one I wanted to buy first. It’s been a tough choice in past generations because each console had clear differences, advantages and disadvantages, be it through price tag, great exclusive games , specs, features and more.
This generation though feels different since there just aren’t many major differences outside a few key factors which we’ll get to.
Microsoft and Sony’s consoles aren’t going to be all that different from each other in terms of power. They are both going to target 4K resolution and 60 FPS (with 120 FPS being possible). The exception is the budget Xbox Series S which has notably lower specs and a target of 1440p and 60/120 FPS in return for its lower price point.
The premium version of the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X will cost $499. If you’re a hardcore gamer that pays for the absolute best performance out of a home console, price isn’t going to be a major factor this time around since both consoles are powerful and both cost the same.
Unlike the Nintendo Switch, the vast majority of third-party games will be playable on both. Exclusives do matter, and we’ll get to that in just a bit, but as far as third-party games go it’s more or less a wash.
And finally, neither the Xbox Series X/S or the PlayStation 5 have a major game-changing feature such as the Switch’s portability, that factors into the equation.
For so many gamers that truly are undecided there’s likely to just be one question that needs to be answered in order to sort you into either the Xbox Series X/S or the PlayStation 5 camp this generation.
There are two big caveats though: die-hards and people who buy whatever console most of their friends buy. Gamers probably know people who do both of those things.
I have a buddy that just buys the new PlayStation every time around without even putting a second of thought into the process. That’s what he likes and it’s what he’s comfortable with, so more power to him. There are I’m sure plenty of people who do the same with the Xbox family of consoles and Nintendo too for that matter.
Another one of my friends, who isn’t a big gamer and doesn’t need a new console right away, will just hang around and see what my friends buy. Once there’s a game that he needs to play, he’ll survey the friend group and then just buy that console, not really caring about anything other than just wanting to play games with group occasionally.
If none of that applies to you, and you’re a true free agent, the question below is the important one to ask yourself. and from there you can drill down.
Do you need to play next-gen PlayStation 5 exclusive titles?
Answer this question: how many PlayStation 4 exclusives did you play this past-gen? Is the answer a lot of them? Or was it just one, or two, or less? Did you not have a PlayStation 4 and were jealous of all the great games you missed out on?
If keeping up with franchises like God of War, Horizon, Ratchet and Clank, and whatever Naughty Dog has up their sleeves next is paramount to you, then you absolutely should just go ahead and buy a PlayStation 5. And if you’re on a budget or want to save a buck, buy the digital version and save yourself $100.
As it stands right now, as of this writing, the Xbox’s suite of exclusive games is still a work in progress. While the brand certainly has a few blue chips in Halo, Ori, and Gears of War, other franchises and developers within the Xbox family are still in the process of gaining trust with fans and consumers. The Xbox brand lacked true “killer apps” last generation and needs to prove that it can fix that first before it deserves the benefit of the doubt.
That obviously could completely change this generation, but all we have is recent past history to go off of.
To put it kindly, the Xbox One had an up and down experience when it comes to exclusive games. While at the same time, Sony’s PlayStation 4 delivered a GOTY contender exclusive just about every year throughout the generation.
“I don’t care about playing PlayStation 5 exclusive titles”
If you do not care about PlayStation 5 exclusives, then you should seriously give the Xbox Series X/S a look. Not only is it also a powerful console, but the allure of Xbox Game Pass should be tempting.
Xbox Game Pass is the arguably the only game-changing feature (if you want to call it that, it’s more of a service) that exists this upcoming generation between the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X/S.
While Sony does have PS Now, it doesn’t yet stack up with Xbox Game Pass. For $9.99 a month you’ll get the following:
- Ability to play for free on launch any Xbox Game Studios (read: first-party) titles. These games are never rotated out of the service.
- Access to hundreds of other games at any given time. Most of which are really good such as: Red Dead Redemption 2, NieR: Automata, The Outer Worlds, Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night and The Witcher 3.
- Thrown in for good measure is EA Access which gives you the ability to play select EA games for free and get early access into certain new titles such as Madden and FIFA.
- And, if you want, you can bundle in for $5.00 more per month the cost of Xbox Live Gold which lets you play online and also offers free games too via Games With Gold (those you get to keep forever and ever).
And, if your budget is the number one concern then an Xbox Series S is the lowest entry point into next-gen at $299; and budled with a subscription to Xbox Game Pass it should be the most cost efficient way to play lots of games in the next-gen.
Buy neither… for now
All of that being said, another viable option is simply to but neither of the new consoles releasing this fall, at least at launch. For at least the next year, major “exclusives” for both consoles including Horizon Forbidden West and Halo Infinite are going to release on both current and next-gen consoles.
With all the pro-consumer features currently in place, there really isn’t as much urgency to get to the next-gen this time around as there has been in previous years.
If you wait it out, you might be able to get a feel for which console has the brighter future, get more information on how exclusives further down the line are coming along, and see which ones your friends are buying, so you’re even better informed about which console you want to buy.
That’s pretty much what it comes down to this generation. Both next-gen consoles are powerful, both cost around the same, and both are going to play almost all of the same games, and both controllers look like they are going to be similar to last gen which is great because both controllers were just fine.
Sure there are some weird very specific things people may care about like a console’s UI being the ultimate deal breaker, but by and large the line is going to be drawn at the answer to the PS5 exclusive question.
It’s a pretty simple question to answer and hopefully, it makes your decision process easy. If not, you can be a sucker (or genius?) and just buy both and call it a day.