This week Sony well and truly laid its cards on the table, unveiling a wealth of fantastic looking launch titles for its next generation PS5.
These included top titles like Horizon Forbidden West, the much sought after Demon Souls remake and Gran Turismo 7. Make no mistake, if you were to go off exclusives alone, Sony is miles ahead of Microsoft’s Xbox Series X at the moment.
But for me, Microsoft is still way ahead of Sony for one crucial reason: it’s investing in the future, not repeating what’s come before.
The fact is, the world around us is changing. 5G’s going to revolutionise pretty much every aspect of consumer technology, gaming included. It’s already shown signs of this with the arrival of GeForce Now and Microsoft Project xCloud over the last year.
Though the latter is still in beta, for me it’s a clear sign Microsoft is thinking further ahead than Sony and looking at Xbox as a platform, not a lump of plastic to be replaced in half a decade. This is important as gamer’s habits are already changing and evolving past the outdated concept of having one console for lounge gaming and another for mobile.
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Combined with GeForce Now, xCloud or Stadia, this lets you get an Xbox/Nintendo Switch type experience and play the full fat, not cut down mobile versions, of triple-A games using your phone.
Even if you don’t get Kishi, the streaming service mean, if your internet connection is fast enough, you can play the same version of Forza, Gears 5 or Sea of Thieves you get on a full fat Xbox One or PC on any device with a web browser and screen. Thanks to cloud saves, the services even sync your progress across all the devices.
Having experienced this majestic freedom to game wherever I please, I truly can’t go back to the outdated idea of only making pew pews at home with a games console.
The fact Microsoft synced its Xbox library with Windows 10 and is offering all its titles on subscription model only makes the offering sweeter and is further evidence the tech giant is thinking further ahead than Sony.
For those that missed it, all Xbox exclusives and first party titles will work on both platforms regardless of where you originally purchased them. This freedom to game wherever, and on whatever hardware you choose is a key selling point that cannot be ignored, especially when coupled with Xbox Games Pass.
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Games Pass is another forward facing move that lets gamers get access to Microsoft’s gaming library for a monthly subscription. It’s effectively the Netflix of gaming. This again is a forward thinking move that’s in line with how most young people consume media.
The fact is, most people below a certain age have now grown up in a world where the idea of physically or digitally owning music, TV shows and movies is alien. Nowadays most youngsters pay for these using subscription streaming services like Netflix or Spotify. Look at every industry forecast and it’ll tell you gaming will go the same way eventually.
Despite this, of the two next-generation console heavyweights, Microsoft is the only one looking to leverage this trend and get gamers on its platform now.
As a result, while I can see Sony winning the opening battle and getting more direct console sales in the next generation, it will ultimately lose the war as gamers’ habits change and the emerging streaming and subscription models become standard.