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Game Pass is not the Xbox Series X killer app and it’s not meant to be


Xbox Series X – there’s more to it than just Game Pass (pic: Microsoft)

A reader examines the differences between Xbox Series X/S and PS5 and concludes Microsoft’s plans for the future are not what many assume.

I agree with the recent comments there has been too much negativity around the launch of PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S. With only a few weeks to go now until the new shiny consoles are with us, we should be getting excited. I know I am.

I was fortunate enough to snag pre-orders for both the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X but now, as the launch date looms, do I purchase one or both or perhaps neither?

The launch of next generation consoles should mean exactly that, a new generation. If I am spending £500 on a new toy I want faster hardware, better graphics, higher resolutions, faster frame rates, better sound, and new games built that use the higher spec.

1. Hardware specs
Xbox Series X/S has the faster processor and graphics card, whereas the PlayStation 5 has faster full system bandwidth, faster SSD, higher grade Wi-Fi, 3D audio, and faster USB ports. I think PlayStation 5 has the edge technically, but let’s face it both machines are hugely powerful consoles.

2. Exclusive games
PlayStation 5 has five console exclusive launch games: Demon’s Souls, Godfall, and Astro’s Playroom. Plus, PlayStation exclusives Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Sackboy: A Big Adventure, and Bugsnax. Xbox Series X/S has zero at launch and only one a month later with The Medium (although it does look superb).

3. Third party games
As always all the big names are on both and will look/sound/play amazing.

4. Backwards compatibility
Both consoles can play current generation so that’s on either for those interested in it. I have a small PlayStation 4 backlog, so it’s handy.

5. £70 game prices
I only buy physical games and sell them when I’m done so the price makes little difference (buy for £70 on launch day, sell on eBay a month or two later for £50 to £60).

So as I write, the only real difference between them is exclusive games, and as games are the entire point here there is no competition… PlayStation 5 it is.

Why haven’t I mentioned Game Pass?

If I was interested in the games currently on Game Pass I would stick with current gen for a year or two, no need for next gen.

That said, I do believe that Game Pass is fantastic and a genuine win for Microsoft.

Some see Game Pass as Microsoft’s killer app that will kill PlayStation. I don’t see that and based on their behaviour and comments I do not think Microsoft do either.

1. A year ago Microsoft said they do not see Sony as their main competitor, rather it was Amazon, Google, Apple and other subscription services.

2. Phil Spencer mentions at every opportunity, ‘wanting to attract non-gamers and grow the market’.

3. Microsoft have zero interest in creating exclusive games, Halo infinite has clearly not been a priority and neither have any other exclusive titles.

4. Microsoft invest huge sums in acquiring back catalogues to fill the Game Pass shelves.

5. The Series X/S approach blurs the lines between hardware generations, and Phil Spencer has stated a number of times that the Series S will be the bigger seller and he hopes that hardware generations end.

6. Think of the movie industry. The big Hollywood movies make money first in cinemas, then from rental, then direct sales to consumers, then lastly selling them to streaming services (like Netflix) and TV. The big Hollywood movies that cost $200m+ to make could not exist selling solely to streaming services and the same applies to games.

All of the above could point towards Microsoft’s target being the potential mass market for subscription gaming, not the current console market. I think there is demand for both.

Microsoft see their future owning a subscription platform that caters for the mass market/casual gamer with hundreds of older games and cheaper exclusives (the mass market is far less demanding). Sony can continue to own the game console market with high end machines and more superb exclusives that cater to the dedicated gamer.

Whatever the future holds, it is a fantastic time to be a gamer and we should all be excited that the next chapter starts in a few weeks’ time.

Enjoy!

By reader BWWPSFOUR (PSN ID)

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