I would just like to start this by saying that in no way do I mean to compare PlayStation and Xbox as brands and bring back the console wars of old. I am just observing the differing approaches that they have taken to promoting their next-gen machines.
In the run-up to the next generation of consoles and in the months since the release of the rare PS5 and Xbox Series consoles, the media strategies of Sony and Microsoft have been worlds apart.
A perfect way to show this polarisation is in an experience that I had a few weeks ago. I was skimming over a sale on the PlayStation Store and spotted Shadow of the Tomb Raider for £12, I figured why not treat myself. While it was downloading, I was looking through a list of games that have been given the FPS boost treatment on the next-gen Xbox’s and I spotted said game. Immediately I felt like I had wasted my money, yes I got the game on sale on my PS5, but I would have gotten a better experience had I bought it on my Xbox. Still, it’s a great game at 30fps, so I booted the game up, ready to jump back into one of my favorite video game franchises. However, when I started playing the game it felt very snappy and gracefully smooth… too smooth to be running at 30fps.
I googled it to confirm my suspicions and to my delight, I was right, the game runs at 60fps on the PS5. Where did I find this information, on a list of PS4 games that the PS5 improves? on an official Twitter page? Nope, I discovered this information in a thread on Reddit. Don’t get me wrong, I was pleased that I can play the game at 60fps, but this little anecdote acts as a microcosm for how Sony and Microsoft have been approaching the promotion of their new machines.
Xbox has been extremely open about their plans for the next generation, this has been the case since the lead up to the launch with Microsoft revealing the Xbox Series X a year before it launched. This is in stark contrast to Sony, which didn’t show us the design of the PS5 until a few months before it was launched, even now over six months after the launch of the next-gen consoles. Microsoft is much more vocal and communicative with their fan base than Sony, of course, there is the argument to say that Sony has earned their right to be silent, with a generation of stellar exclusives at their back. On the other hand, Microsoft has a lot of goodwill to earn after the last generation which was desolate of exclusives. They are certainly going the right way about it, with Game Pass continuing to go strong, the FPS boost feature that keeps growing, and the promise of all future exclusives coming to Game Pass on day one.
Keeping with the PFS boost, although impressive and great for players, I can’t help but feel like this is Xbox’s way of stalling, just passing time until their 24 internal studios start rolling out the games. It’s also worth a mention that PlayStation has been patching some games to run at 60fps on the PS5, with the most recent being a free patch for The Last Of Us Part 2, but they are not making it an entire feature like Xbox are. The cynic in me says that the reason for this is because they don’t have to, they have exclusives to promote, then again, Sony has been very tight-lipped on just about everything, with little to no news on Horizon: Forbidden West until the recent State of Play, and the only new about God of War being that’s it’s been pushed back until next year.
PlayStation’s motto, “For the players” seems more fitting for Xbox nowadays, especially with the hugely positive consumer-first approach that Xbox is taking. As opposed to PlayStation, whom it has been revealed charges for cross-play (EuroGamer.com) and also charges customers £70 for exclusives, whereas Xbox will now be releasing all exclusives onto Game Pass (when they finally come). Yet, Xbox still has a pretty big amount of catching up to do if they want their exclusives to match the peaks that PlayStations have been hitting for some time now. In conclusion, for the time being, Sony has earned the right to keep ticking along quietly, working in the background while Microsoft does all of the Game Pass announcements and round tables with Bethesda.