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Sitting on the sidelines: PS5 vs XB Series X

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I'll be the first to admit that I'm almost exclusively a Nintendo only gamer, but one of the surprising benefits of that is I don't directly have a dog in the fight between Sony and Microsoft. Those megacorps can duke it out in the high-performance-high-price-high-drama console war field of ~12 teraflops, and I can pull up a seat and pull out my switch to watch the slugfest.

So what's everyone's take on the upcoming next-gen consoles? With baseline specs revealed for both, the internet fanboy flame wars are just getting started, but it seems to me like Sony has slightly less paper specs, might have some custom silicon tricks they'll argue make their power more than the specs.

Thinking about it, I don't recall Sony ever finding itself in that position marketing-wise before. They've technically had lower spec systems before but the market perception at the time s didn't really reflect that.

As for software, we haven't seen any. But Microsoft has bulked up their 1st party studios SO much these past years that I'm almost scared to find out everything they've been saving up for this, it'll be like an asteroid impacting the earth and they've been preparing for this for a LOOOONG time. Sony, on the other hand, seems to have strong third-party ties, a proven and reliable first-party record, and a little more consumer goodwill since they've actually been delivering the past couple of years instead of just promising things.

Of course, the elephant in the room could be price and business model. Is it possible that Sony is targeting a lower price point than MS? That might be an advantage in the early days. But could MS really push GamePass and/or XCloud so much that consumers are willing to buy that hardware instead based on a long-term calculation on saving money on software via a subscription?

Gonna be interesting to see how it plays out. Both these systems are so utterly powerful that I'm guessing they'll easily differentiate themselves from the current Gen (unlike the PS4 Pro and One X, which remain firmly in this gen). That'd be interesting to see how fast it saps away developer support for the Switch. It's possible that the Switch could still remain a great home for devs who still have Mobile as a target, and a great home for indies who generally need to hit all platforms including mobile and/or mainstream PCs. But I've been REALLY enjoying the legacy ports of current/last gen titles, like the recently announced 2K BioShock, Borderlands, and X-Com 2 collections. I'd hate to see those sorts of things dry up quickly.

I inadvertently sat out this current generation for the most part and previously committed to buying a PlayStation 5 at launch for backward compatibility as I like Sony’s first party lineup more. However, I recently tripped upward into a PlayStation 4 Pro so I’m going to kick the can down the road until the middle of next generation, if I even end up buying anything. I was mostly fine with Switch.

MLB The Show going multiplatform drastically changes the calculus for me in terms of when I'd want to buy and which one it would be. That's one of my most played games every year and pretty much the only reason I've used my PS4 in years, but if I can get it on Switch or Xbox I have no real reason to buy a PS5. I'd be more likely to get an Xbox SeX for the few non-Nintendo things I care about plus GamePass.

Ian Sane:
I don't have any systems from the current generation.  The last time that occurred was the 8 bit NES era generation and I certainly would have been in on that if I could convince my parents to buy me an NES.  So I don't really have any interest in the next generation which would sound bizarre if you told me that 15 years ago.  I've actually kind of lost track of the time with this generation in that it still feels like it's brand new.

I think there are a couple factors here.  First of all I'm older so the excitement of keeping completely up-to-date with videogames is not as strong.  With the 3DS I switched from someone that felt like he needed to be familiar with everything to just prioritizing certain types of games that I know I like.  I've gone from that age where you're craving innovation to the one where you crave comfort and familiarity.

But another factor is simply that the noticeable improvements of each generation has become subtle.  In the old days there was a huge jump just in the visuals alone with each generation.  Seeing the Dreamcast for the first time blew my mind.  Seeing the Xbox 360 for the first time was like "Uh?  Is there something different here?"  Now Xbox 360 games did evolve where the improvement between that and the original Xbox became obvious but it wasn't immediately obvious like the first time I saw commercials for Altered Beast and Bonk's Adventure.

For new generations now it's like the improvements are frame rate, VR support, 4K.  I don't care about VR, don't own a 4K TV and have no intention of buying one and my tolerance of frame rate dips is pretty high as long as things are playable.  There just isn't much of a selling point here for me.

Games I want to play will push me towards a new console purchase.  I played Breath of the Wild on the Wii U and I still have enough games on older platforms that I want to play.  Breath of the Wild 2 will probably entice me but that's going to be for a Switch, not a PS5.

I've been annoyed for years at how complacent Sony's become since the PS4 became one of the best-selling entertainment devices, but the way they've handled the PS5 has me livid at how utterly incompetent they've become. They spent years completely radio silent on the subject of PS5, letting their 1st party PS4 lineup slowly trickle away. Then, when they finally release SOMETHING on the PS5, it's a mind-numbingly boring Mark Cerney tech presentation obviously meant for the cancelled GDC.

Then they announced that PS5 would only be kinda, sorta backwards compatible. The PS5, you see, is just so powerful that PS4 games aren't guaranteed to work properly on it. They'd only tested the Top 100 PS4 games (whatever those are), you see. Then it became "oh, the vast MAJORITY of your PS4 games will work on PS5", again without stating what games DID or DIDN'T work, probably because they want to sell "remastered" versions of PS4 games on PS5.

Let's set aside how incredibly insulting it is to your 100 million+ PS4 audience that you designed the successor system without ensuring that PS4 games would work in it. How am I, as a PS4 owner with, literally, over 200 PS4 games both digital and physical...supposed to sell off my PS4 in good conscience to be able to AFFORD to buy a PS5 when I don't KNOW if my library will WORK on the thing? And considering that speculation has this thing very possibly at 599 US Dollars again, THAT's a big concern. If I can't make a dent in that price, there's no way I can afford a PS5 until they Slim it down in a few years.

Also, we are 7-8 months away from a hypothetical PS5 launch, and we still know NOTHING about what games will be on it. Even Microsoft's Xbox Ranger Operator Series X has had a few games shown off already in the Hellblade sequel & (I think) the next Gears game. And we already have confirmation that Cyberpunk's going to have a free upgrade to the NextBox version.

I don't think either console is really going to launch this year. I think the tanking economy and lack of manufacturing capacity is going to delay them in 2021. However, Microsoft has done leaps and bounds better at selling the Nextbox than Sony has the PS5, and I suspect that's not going to change despite Sony having objectively, inarguably the better 1st party support.


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