War games - the next gen battle

Image Credit: Amber Leigh

With the next suite of consoles imminent, Rory Galvin looks at the pros and cons of the Playstation 5 and Xbox Series X/S. Which is the best choice?

The next generation of gaming is here, with the newly announced and long awaited PS5 and Xbox series X and S. With that comes a horrifying dilemma: are you getting an Xbox or a PlayStation? Who will come out on top? And which one should you really be getting?

Microsoft has the most interesting offerings this time round, with two SKUs hitting the market at once: the Xbox Series X and Series S. To compare, it’s akin to Apple releasing two new iPhones at once, one being more powerful, and the other being sold at a more reasonable price. With 16gb of GDDR6 RAM, a more powerful CPU and GPU, the Series X is no joke and will easily be able to run games at 4K resolutions, at 60 frames per second and beyond. The new Xbox is without a doubt the most powerful console coming to market, but that doesn’t mean the PS5 is far behind. 

The series S is around half as powerful as the X. Running games at a lower resolution and missing the disc drive are the trade-off. The PlayStation 5 is barely behind in the CPU and GPU department, but has one trick up its sleeve: a blisteringly fast SSD. The drive that comes with your console is so fast that there is currently nothing on the market that can beat it. Between the Series X and PS5, the differences are marginal, but Microsoft would get a point here. For the most part, you would only notice the difference in select multi-platform titles.

Pricing and the cost of gaming is a huge factor that usually helps consumers get off the fence, and yet again, Microsoft is being bold with their products. Both the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X will cost €499, but there are cheaper ways to enter this new era of home entertainment. Sony are keeping it simple with a digital PS5, removing the disc drive for a steep €100 discount, while Microsoft are selling their Series S at an extremely competitive €299. It is very possible that Microsoft is taking a loss on each Series S, a loss leader like the series S can get many gamers in the door and onto your ecosystem. 

Both Sony and Microsoft had awful pre-order systems in place, meaning hundreds will miss out on the next gen consoles. However, it is still very easy to place an order for a Series S as they’re not sold out. This shows that the more hardcore audiences are less interested in this kind of budget system, but it could be a hit once a more general consumer base sees them in stores. You can imagine the look of horror on kids’ faces when Santa gets them a Series S instead of an X.

Hardware is one thing, but that’s not usually where the companies make their money, software is the main game. Microsoft has the incredibly affordable Game Pass service; a Netflix-style subscription which provides you with a huge library of titles that is constantly being updated. Sony’s offering, PlayStation Now, offers a similar service, but is world’s away from the Game Pass’ appeal. This ensures that their means of selling titles predominantly relies on the traditional means of disc or download, and this is where a huge issue comes in - Eighty. Euro. Games.

Titles do get price increases alongside inflation and growing budgets, with the last jump being around 15 years ago, but this is clearly ridiculous. American consumers are also getting a price hike, but only to 70 dollars, meaning, when converted, we Europeans are paying 24 more dollars than the American gamer. This applies to their exclusives for now, but it sets a dangerous precedent for game prices in Ireland and Europe, making Game Pass even more attractive.

You’ve heard about pricing and specs, but at the end of the day, we use these consoles to play games. This is, pricing aside, where Sony delivers. The PlayStation 5 has arguably one of the strongest launch line-ups in the past few console generations, with sure to be hit titles such as Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Demon’s Souls and the pre-installed Astro’s Playroom. There will be plenty of variety at launch serving different age groups playing on day one and Christmas - Sackboy: A Big Adventure is sure to be a fun game for anyone. Microsoft has an issue with their offerings because there really are none. Halo Infinite was supposed to come November 10th but has been pushed to next year after a poor and disappointing showing, panned by long-time fans online. They have no exclusives that convince the consumer to buy their console over the competitor’s. 

The third-party titles coming at launch also seem promising, with games like Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, Yakuza: Like a Dragon and Call of Duty Black Ops: Cold War. Plus, with backwards compatibility on both consoles, newer releases like Cyberpunk 2077 will be fully playable and enhanced by the hardware. Microsoft has put a huge focus on backwards compatibility, but it’s a feature only around half of Xbox owners have tried. So, when it comes to games at launch, Sony gets a clear win here, but in the future, they may have some competition with Xbox’s ever-growing Game Studios.  

To conclude, what should you get? Well, it all depends on how you feel right now. Are you invested in the PlayStation 4 and the exclusive franchises? Then stick to that platform. Are you a devout Xbox fan? Then there is no reason for you to jump ship. Both companies have fantastic-looking offerings, and with two quite-different mindsets: tradition versus an open ecosystem. 

The PS4 has an install base of over 112 million consoles, record breaking in recent years - Microsoft stopped giving sales numbers for the Xbox One in late 2015, having an estimated 50 million sold in its lifetime. With a greater than 2:1 ratio, will enough PlayStation fans swap sides to give Microsoft the edge?