Whatever your preferred gaming genre, you want to be able to access the biggest possible range of games, right?
Gamers are infamous for having collections bigger than their free time can possibly cater for. Whether it takes the form of a Steam library of 500 unplayed games, or for casino players looking for the best slots with casino jackpots, choice is a huge draw in the gaming world.
That’s why at first glance, Microsoft’s Xbox Series X might seem to be at a disadvantage against Sony’s ninth generation console. Since the PS5 was released, Sony has been putting out regular new and exclusive titles, including Ratchet & Clank and Returnal, and is set to release eagerly awaited titles such as Horizon Forbidden West and God of War: Ragnarok.
Meanwhile, the Xbox Series X game launches have been less frequent and less spectacular, beginning with the Halo Infinite launch that was originally meant to coincide with the new Xbox console launch, but which had to be delayed because the game wasn’t ready.
The perception in some areas is that Microsoft and the Xbox will lose out in the battle over game range and depth of library. But there are reasons for optimism if you’re an Xbox fan.
While Sony have been grabbing the game release headlines, Microsoft have been working behind the scenes with the longer term in mind. The ZeniMax Media deal was a key development, as the acquisition of the Bethesda parent company means that they will have the ultimate power over which platforms any new Bethesda games are released upon.
While this won’t affect existing game deals such as Ghostwire: Tokyo and Deathloop, which will both come out on PS5, Microsoft will have the power to restrict some huge releases. Fallout, Wolfenstein, The Elder Scrolls, Dishonored and Starfield are all now under the Microsoft umbrella. We have already learned that Starfield will be an Xbox exclusive, and others are sure to follow, which will make the Xbox considerably more attractive for gamers.
Game Pass advantage
One area in which Microsoft had the lead over Sony was their Game Pass. Sony have attempted to catch up, but the PS Now platform is a long way behind and with the Xbox Series X, the true value of the Game Pass facility has become apparent. While PS Now does give PS4 and PS5 players access to a library of games, it doesn’t include PlayStation Plus and won’t be showcasing new games.
By contrast, Game Pass users have access to a huge library of titles, with bundled subscription features and the chance to play AAA titles at launch. Why spend upward of $50 on a new PS5 title when you can sign up with Game Pass for $9.99 or $14.99 and play hundreds of old and new games? The value here is clear, and in unlocking its back catalog and linking it to new games as well, Microsoft have cleverly stolen a march on their rivals, despite a lack of big-name exclusive releases.
During the build-up to the launch of the Xbox Series X and PS5, there was a great deal of speculation about how game upgrading would work. If you’d bought a game on the PS4 or the Xbox One, would you have to buy it again on the new consoles?
While the answer to this question depends mostly on the game developers, Microsoft appears to be winning the upgrading battle, at least in the perception of the gaming public.
The development and promotion of Smart Delivery, a facility that presents gamers with the upgraded version of a game when they insert the disc, has been one factor in favor of the Xbox, and the controversy over the updated version of GreedFall has also helped to boost Microsoft’s cause.
PS Plus subscribers who downloaded the free version of GreedFall were subsequently told that it was not eligible for the upgrade to the PS5 version, yet Xbox gamers who downloaded the game through Game Pass will be able to access a free Xbox Series X upgrade.
The question of upgrades is becoming more important with every new console release and there is a growing recognition on the part of games makers and console developers that back-compatibility and access to upgrades are high on the list of priorities for many gamers, so the Xbox appears to be in a stronger position than the PS5 in giving gamers what they want.
Ultimately, the number and the quality of the games available will determine which of the two consoles comes out on top, but Microsoft have made some shrewd moves, which means that in the long-term battle, the Xbox may yet prevail.