A reader argues that taking sides in the next gen console war is causing some fans to downplay the Xbox’s more consumer-friendly services.
As this so-called console war rages on, I find myself at a loss to explain the current mindset of the most hardcore PlayStation fans who champion Sony’s console and strategy no matter what (and seem to hate everything about the Xbox). Yes, PlayStation have more recently had the better first party line-up. However, it’s virtually impossible to argue that Sony are taking a consumer-friendly approach when compared to Microsoft.
We do not know prices, but Sony has spoken of ‘value as opposed to price’. This alone might not raise too many alarm bells (although, arguably, it should). However, Sony have also confirmed that the DualShock 4 controllers will not work with PlayStation5 games, and the DualSense could be pricey given the much-ballyhooed new features such as haptic feedback and adaptive triggers.
I’m not a tech expert, but from a purely information-input standpoint, is there any tangible reason Sony could not make DualShock 4 compatible with PlayStation 5 games, less the DualSense features? The Ratchet & Clank demo at Gamescom made it clear that some DualSense features would inform gameplay (although they did not say if missing these features would render the game unplayable), but this is the only example Sony has given to my knowledge.
I would also be remiss not to mention that PlayStation 4 owners will have no cross-gen compatibility with first party games. This, to me, is madness. Admittedly, Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart has some very legitimate reasons for not being able to function cross-gen, but what about Spider-Man: Miles Morales?
It’s been confirmed that this game is closer to DLC than a standalone spin-off or sequel to PlayStation 4’s Spider-Man. However, it will not be possible to run on a PS4 Pro? I struggle to believe this (although I will be happily proven wrong upon the release of the game should it contain features incompatible with what is presently current gen).
Now, on the other side of the argument is Microsoft. While the company has made mistakes in the past, it now might just have the best value for money service in gaming: Game Pass. Yes, Sony has PlayStation Now, but can anyone really keep a straight face when suggestion that it can compete with Game Pass? Microsoft is also making almost all of their back catalogue of hardware accessories compatible with the Xbox Series X and has promised cross-gen support ‘for a couple of years’, for the new generation for first party games.
To briefly address something, I’m sure some readers will pick on the Xbox’s cross-gen support and argue that it’s holding back devs from creating great games. But honestly, I don’t buy that. Sony and Microsoft dev kits have probably only been available to developers for a couple of years, and it often takes double that or longer to create a AAA game nowadays. And, to be brutally honest, both Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart and The Medium (the two most ‘next gen’ games I can think of) both look gimmicky rather than next gen to me.
Even with Ratchet & Clank’s Gamescom demo, it felt like the dimension switching was minimally important (i.e. new dimension for a few seconds, then landing back in the level you started in for the important gameplay) and the amount of content/characters on screen felt quite cluttered and unnecessary during combat. I wouldn’t take this over a top quality, narrative-rich game like The Witcher 3. Although, admittedly, I did love the seamless, loading-time-less transition from gameplay to cut scene and the possible uses of adaptive triggers.
Now, to get back on track, I’m not trying to convince you to buy an Xbox by highlighting what I’ve said about Sony and Microsoft. I’m trying to highlight the absurdity in how a lot of Sony fans are not pushing their favoured company to come close to matching the value for money that Microsoft is offering. We’re living through an unprecedented time – a global pandemic has caused huge job-losses and financial instability. Our Conservative government has a track record of austerity (which many fear could be considered again post-COVID) which led to wage stagnation and even real-terms wage cuts.
Yet, according to Sony, we must upgrade our console to play what are likely to be £65 games, which may well be able to run on our PS4 Pro (time will probably tell). And not only this but Sony is explicitly not entertaining the idea of bringing first party exclusives to PlayStation Now on release day, as they are instead trying to make releases ‘massive entertainment events’ – quite why the scale of the release event would be downgraded by a game being on PS Now eludes me.
As I said, I’m not trying to persuade you towards Xbox. But I am hoping that people will see the positive things that Microsoft is doing for the consumer and demand more from their gaming company-of-choice. As it stands, it feels like some of the more enthusiastically loyal PlayStation fans are unable to see the positives of their apparent arch-rival, Xbox. But this tunnel vision will only slow consumer-friendly practices in the games industry.
Think of it this way: if I want to play six PlayStation 5 exclusives over the next three years, I’ll have to buy all of them at a theoretical £65 each (unless on sale). That’s £390 over three years. The base version of Game Pass is £8 per month. For that £390, I can subscribe to Game Pass for over four years, and play every single Xbox first party game.
On top of that, I’ll have access to all the other games Microsoft has announced for the service, as well as hopefully some unannounced first party offerings, and all the games available throughout my subscription (Xbox are working hard to bring more third party games to the service). Granted, I prefer single-player experiences, but moving up a tier to Game Pass Ultimate will still get you three years of subscription at £11 per month, and a good amount saved when you factor in Xbox Live.
So please, instead of hating Xbox and deriding its fans, use that energy for something constructive (and less unnecessarily divisive). Make some noise about your preferred company doing right by its loyal fans. Billion-dollar companies do not care about you, but they will hopefully listen if their customers unite their voices.
By reader ‘S’
The reader’s feature does not necessary represent the views of GameCentral or Metro.
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