With next-gen consoles apparently releasing in the next two months, it makes me stop and ask, “Why?” Given the global pandemic and the accompanying recession, as well as the impact these things seem to be having on game studios, I can’t wrap my mind around why Microsoft and Sony seem to think now is the ideal time to be releasing […]
With next-gen consoles apparently releasing in the next two months, it makes me stop and ask, “Why?” Given the global pandemic and the accompanying recession, as well as the impact these things seem to be having on game studios, I can’t wrap my mind around why Microsoft and Sony seem to think now is the ideal time to be releasing their consoles.
Let’s start with the most obvious problem. In case you hadn’t heard, the world is currently embroiled in a global pandemic which has caused massive economic upheaval.
The Xbox Series X and the main edition of the PlayStation 5 will both be $500. The digital editions of these consoles will be $300 and $400, respectively. While the Xbox Series S at $300 isn’t prohibitively expensive, it sacrifices hardware specs to hit that point. Which begs the question: Why even bother? Even in a strong economy, these machines are pricey and that’s with the companies often selling consoles at a loss.
Now maybe you’re saying to yourself, “Well it’s worth it because of all the next-gen games!” To which the next question is, “What next-gen games?”
2020 has seen a huge number of studios pushing their upcoming titles into next year. If there was one major, showstopping launch game for either console it was going to be Halo Infinite. But it’s been pushed to some vague date in 2021. That’s not to say I’m mad about the delay—I’m glad 343 is taking their time to do it right and hopefully avoid crunch for their employees. But I don’t see any sort of incentive to buy a next-gen console without that type of heavyweight title.
Of the PS5 launch games, possibly the most-anticipated is Spiderman Miles Morales and it’s not even exclusive to the PS5. You can play it on your good ol’ PS4. And the Demon Souls remake? I’ve seen a lot of people on Twitter get really excited about it, but I’m not sure it’s the type of game that’ll move units. It’s a remake of a game that’s more than a decade old and one that PlayStation itself has already improved upon (in my opinion) with Bloodborne.
Even Horizon: Forbidden West isn’t going to be exclusive to the PS5 and it’s not a launch game. You can play it on your PS4.
The issue isn’t that Sony is making these games available to players on both consoles, the issue is that we don’t even need next generation hardware to play them.
I’m going to say something possibly controversial, but I don’t really care about graphical fidelity. I know some people do, and that’s all well and good, but those people that prioritize it probably play on PC anyway (Gamers, don’t come for me).
Some of the biggest games right now—Hades, Fall Guys, Among Us—can be played on current generation hardware and some of them even play wonderfully on mobile for free. Hades is one of the most beautiful games I’ve seen in a while and I don’t need to spend $500 and change to play it.
For those of you who value gorgeous, true-to-life graphics, The Last of Us Part Two accomplished that admirably and the next Horizon likely will as well (because, again, it’s coming to PS4). Outside of people in the games industry, I haven’t come across anyone who is actually excited for a next generation console this year. Not only are the current ones fantastic with wonderful graphics, but they have such a huge slate of excellent games that it will take me years to get through my backlog anyway.
So . . . Why?
I can’t claim to know why these consoles are releasing now. My best guess, which is wild speculation, would be that Sony and Microsoft began rolling out plans for the release late last year and it was just too far along to stop by the time the pandemic hit. The two companies likely had more impressive launch games planned, but unforeseen delays got in the way.
The bold move would have been to delay the next-gen consoles by a year. Sure, maybe only one would have delayed and the other would have gotten an advantage in sales, but the PS3 did the same thing and caught up by the end of the last generation. It wouldn’t have been the end of the world.
Personally, I’ll be waiting until this time next year to look into buying one of the next-gen consoles. When they have games exclusive to that generation that are worth putting down the cost to play them. And hopefully, by then, we’ll have slimmed down versions because good god these things are enormous.
Let me know in the comments if you’ll be picking one of these up. I’m genuinely curious! And for news about the PS5 and Xbox Series X, check back here at Mendax Games.