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Xbox Series X vs PlayStation 5: Who will come out on top?

Callum Sibley 29 October 2020

It’s the gaming showdown of the year; possibly even the decade. With lockdown in full swing, many have taken solace in their consoles, which leaves us all wondering about the soon-to-be-released Xbox Series X and the PlayStation 5. 

Many are torn between which to get. Both Microsoft and Sony have taken some flack for the boxy and strange look of their consoles, but both have also received praise for their innovation. So, with less than a month to go until their big release, how do the Xbox Series X and PS5 measure up against each other?

 

Graphics

When Microsoft dropped their Xbox Series X gameplay showcase, some were… less than impressed. The video showed games that we’re all excited to play, but many were hoping to see some more real-time gameplay. Some were hoping for more from the graphics, which ultimately led to Halo: Infinite’s delay

PlayStation, however, had an impressive Unreal Engine 5 demo. The video was a great showcase of what the next generation is capable of and excited audiences with its sublime graphics with hyper-realistic lighting and intricate details. While Sony might have snagged the reveal, Unreal Engine 5 will be available on the Series X too, so as impressive as this demo video was, we can expect the same for the Xbox Series X’s graphics.

“But the Series X boasts 12 teraflops to the PS5’s 10.28, so surely it’s better?” Not quite. Many think higher teraflops are equal to better graphics, yet teraflops are only really a measurement of the console’s power. The PS5 has a higher maximum clock speed, which lets it work harder than the Series X, but will likely generate more heat. So it’s a bit six of one, half a dozen of the other.

 

Games

While both consoles will have their jewels in the crown, Xbox is putting a lot of weight behind Game Pass. This monthly subscription will give players access to new games on the day they drop, but also access to over 100 legacy titles already live and streamable to your phone

Sony has responded with the PlayStation Plus Collection, though its collection isn’t quite as expansive. Similar to Game Pass in quite a few ways, the Plus Collection lets you download games to your console but doesn’t match with Xbox’s day of release feature. Their list of games is limited, with titles such as God of War and Detroit: Become Human, but it is a huge boost for anyone who never invested in a PS4. It’s also a new idea that has the potential to expand in the future, not to mention PlayStation Plus’s general feature of giving you free games every month. Any newcomer’s library will grow very quickly.

Both consoles will be banking on a strong library of cross-gen multi-platform games to bolster their launch line-up. But both have taken a bit of a punch in the gut with Cyberpunk 2077’s very recent delay. Why this has happened is unknown, but some speculate the pressures of developing for both current- and next-gen consoles have had an impact. Indeed, there are several cross-gen games – even those touted as huge launch games, such as Spider-Man: Miles Morales and Sackboy: A Big Adventure, both of which are on PS4. Will this stop them from reaching the heights of what can be achieved with the new hardware? That’s something we’ll only know in time.

 

Acquisitions

Xbox has been very busy over these last few years, acquiring studio after studio. In the past, this has included big names like Obsidian, Double Fine, and Ninja Theory. But we doubt anyone was expecting their latest purchase: Bethesda

This monumental purchase is the epitome of Microsoft’s current strategy. Does this mean Bethesda games will be exclusive to the Xbox? Not necessarily; Minecraft is available on every platform going, many of their titles are also available on PC, and they have been known to strike deals with Nintendo. But it does mean they hold a lot of cards in this fight.

Sony, on the other hand, takes a different tactic. Their biggest announcement was the console exclusivity of Final Fantasy 16. But their approach is to go smaller by locking down exclusive content for multi-platform games. For example, Spider-Man will only be available for PlayStation players of Marvel’s Avengers. From the latest Call of Duty to Destiny 2, this has been Sony’s MO for some time and is likely not going anywhere.

 

The looks

Let’s not kid ourselves – how it looks next to our TV is just as important. But it seems like the internet hasn’t been too kind to these poor consoles.

In recent reveals, the PS5 is definitely the biggest boy this generation. And people can’t help but notice it kind of looks like a router.

The Xbox Series X doesn’t get away from the mockery. Plenty of people think it looks like a fridge. They even went and made one and gave it to Snoop Dogg. Why? Well, why not? And the Series X S has been compared to everything from a washing machine to one of those tannoys you use to order your McDonald’s.

 

The future

So which will come out on top? Both Sony and Microsoft have taken a leap forward with their consoles, and both will no doubt have their usual die-hard fans. But with Microsoft putting their eggs in the Game Pass basket and Sony opting for an all-digital SKU, it’s hard to tell which undecided consumers will be more drawn to.

But there’s no doubt both Sony and Microsoft will do what they can to corner more of the market. Even now, you can see them racing for exclusivity deals with brands. KFC is partnering with the Series X to give one away every day for a month, along with an “interesting” custom KFC controller for it. PS5, meanwhile, is partnering with Doritos. Though there’s no work on a customer Doritos controller – what a shame.

So will consumers be intrigued by PlayStation’s strong list of exclusives? Or is Game Pass’s netflix-ification of game streaming the way forward for the industry? Only time will tell; let the battle begin.

At REALTIME, we’re excited to see what this next generation brings. If you have a next-generation game and are looking for experts who can bring it to life, get in touch with me at callum.sibley@realtimeuk.com.