I keep thinking a lot about 2013 as we head towards the launch of the next generation consoles at the end of 2020. And I feel that this is taking shape as a very different “taco-to-taco” battle this time. The original PS4 versus Xbox One race was a buggy comedy from Microsoft. Choose what went wrong, but the moments that immediately occur is the “essential” bundle of Kinect, the price difference of US $ 100 (about 90 €) because of that, the fears about – always online “check- ins ”- the complicated Sony game sharing philosophy that embarrassed them.
It looked like Microsoft was positioning itself wildly on Sony's ground as a simple, straightforward ball movement. PS4 was a powerful console with good games. It was just that. And it was enough to cripple the launch of the Xbox One and make Sony dominate the entire generation of consoles.
But things look different now, and I wonder if Sony doing more or less the same thing now, and seven years later, will be enough to let you maintain your advantage. With information still to come on ps5, it is difficult to have a complete picture of what is happening this time. And yet, Microsoft seems to have learned all kinds of lessons from the Xbox Series X, and it makes me wonder if Sony this time can bet as safely as it always has. This time, the Xbox Series X feels much stronger than the Xbox One at launch. There are early rumors that it must be more powerful than PS5, the reverse of the original XB1 narrative versus PS4.
It may come again with a price difference of $ 100 (about 90 €), but this time it would be due to capacity, and not by an accessory like Kinect. Microsoft has not bothered to try to get rid of its disk drive or limit sales of used games this time around, and yet it is accelerating in a purely digital future, just as it is finally keeping up with this trend, rather than be years ahead of you.
Microsoft has a couple of strengths towards the launch of the X Series, Xbox Game Pass, a must for any xbox player, and it offers loads of free games and new exclusives to launch on the industry's closest concept to a Netflix model . And then there's Project xCloud, its experimental streaming service that is likely to be paired with ´Game Pass´ to offer game streaming across a wide range of devices. Google Stadia may have arrived with noise, but game streaming can still be a different story when it’s games you already own and you won’t have to re-buy in a different ecosystem. Sony has PlayStation Now, but it has never been at the same level of value proposition as Game Pass, and that seems unlikely to change in the immediate future.
And whatever their future ambitions in game streaming may be, they will be far behind, and since Sony is Sony, maker of TVs and video game consoles, they don't have the massive server infrastructure internally to pull something like that and, ironically , they may need to rely on Microsoft to make this happen. There are also minor advantages. Microsoft will be launching with Halo Infinite, a great game in Microsoft's biggest franchise, while we know that PS5 will not be released with Last of Us 3, God of War 2 or any equivalent (maybe Horizon 2, if we're lucky) ?). Microsoft has also detailed its elaborate compatibility plans, building a future and past ecosystem of consoles that allow more flexibility in purchasing.
From what I see, even before Sony started talking more seriously about the finer details of the PS5, they are likely to retain some significant advantages. There is the price, as if Sony could launch at $ 100 (about 90 €) cheaper, even if at the expense of some power, this is a big advantage. There are games where, like
while Microsoft is trying to improve its first offerings, it seems unlikely that they will be able to match Sony's endless parade of successful titles, even if they are all "sold separately" and not included in some kind of Game Pass.
And finally there is brand loyalty. PS4 has sold so many units in the past seven years that it essentially embarrassed Microsoft not to even reveal Xbox numbers, but estimates put Sony at more than 2: 1, a sales advantage. And if you've been happy with your PS4 for seven years, you'll be much more likely to stick with it than jump to the Xbox Series X, if Sony doesn't get in the way of anything soon. It will be an interesting race, and I am looking forward to seeing it happen this fall.