Why the next-generation console battle won’t be won on day one

Written by Alex Maidment (nSanity Beach)

Firstly, let me start of by apologising for a very slow July – we’ve dropped the ball a little on the written content side of Casual Heroes Gaming, but… (incoming excuse), the day job has been super busy and I haven’t found time or effort to write. We do however have loadssss of content on Twitch!

The last two months have been fascinating for the gaming industry. No matter which camp you sit in, there has been something to get excited about, from the Sony console and games showcase in June through to the supposed outstanding specs of the upcoming NVIDIA GeForce 3000 series (they’re going to be POWERFUL!) and then of course, the Xbox games showcase.

As we’ve previously talked about the Sony showcase, I want to mention the recent Xbox event before I go any further – it’s been… a mixed journey – I’ve had so much hype for the Xbox Series X and to be honest, the games showcase didn’t let me down in the same way it did for many. A lot of the games looked pretty decent and I was so thrilled to finally see some proper Halo footage (even if it wasn’t the final finished polished version) and I’m still buzzing to play it later this year.

But the thing that made the showcase so interesting for me wasn’t actually the games, it was the fact that ALL of the games shown are coming straight to the Xbox Games Pass, even Halo. That was big news for me – the idea that I won’t have to spend £60+ on the new game AND I’ll be able to play it on my Xbox Series X, my Xbox One and my PC – that’s really damn cool.

This also got me thinking… (dangerous, I know!)

Maybe I’m just late to the party here but I don’t think the ongoing ‘battle of consoles’ will be won on day one, or even in the first year of the consoles being released – I think it will be a much longer time before we see a real winner, and it won’t be based on console sales!

To be honest, I’m fully under the impression that the PS5 will outsell the Series X, not just on day one but between day one and the next console (whenever that may be).

Sony usually have a better line up of exclusives and they still provide a solid way to play the biggest non-exclusives – plus, with games like Halo and Forza now playable on PC, many players don’t feel the need to invest in an Xbox, but can invest in a PS5 and use their PC (especially with game streaming becoming a more viable option).

And this is exactly why Microsoft and Xbox will win in the long run – because they have a sustainable methodology for gaming that doesn’t rely on the hardware. While they’ve been absolutely slammed in the current generation, they’ve been slowly building a gaming arsenal that will dominate the future of gaming: Xbox Games Pass Ultimate, xCloud (or whatever it will be called), advocating cross play and of course, Xbox Games Studios.

Xbox are starting to realise that for many gamers, they just want to play games. And often, that means playing games with friends – which forces people down one route or another based on what your friends buy. But imagine this: a technology agnostic gaming world where I want to play the latest blockbuster game with my friends – one on PS5 and one on PC and me with a Series X – and guess what, we can… with crossplay. It’s already possible on many current gen games and the relative power of the new consoles just makes the whole experience even better, especially when you’re playing with PC players who can brag about the power they have over the weak consoles…

The age of console generations is about to come to an end – the launch of the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X proved this – the only way to keep up with the technology industry at all was to release a new bit of hardware, and maybe this is the future – a new console every 2-3 years, for those that want it.

Essentially, rather than developing for a one-off platform, we’re seeing a switch to focus on the games and the accessibility.

Take PC as an example – Not only is PC gaming great because of the latest tech, it is games libraries like Steam that mean you can play games with friends regardless of the tech you have.

This is what the console industry needs to adopt and I feel like the closest we have is Xbox Games Pass Ultimate and some cross platform games. Bemoan the announcements all you want, what everyone actually wants is a platform that they can enjoy the latest games on and that shouldn’t always mean buying the latest console. We also want cheaper more accessible gaming and that will never be possible if we stick to console cycles where the price of games goes up each generation.

PC is the model the follow, but keeping the low cost aspect of consoles as a way to game without upgrading every couple of years or spending thousands on a 5-10 year machine. Microsoft are taking this into account, and that’s why they’ll win the ongoing generational console battle – not because of the console, but because of what they can offer without the console. Ultimately, it will be the investment they’ve put into Xbox Games Studios and Games Pass (and probably xCloud) that will leave them laughing even when console sales are half of the PS5.

Just my two cents.

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