Console Wars

October 27, 2020

Sony: 

Value: $94.31 Billion

Cash on hand: $33.04 Billion

Playstation 4’s sold: 112.1 million

PSN monthly users: 103 million

Companies owned: 92

Playstation Now monthly users: 2.2 million

New Consoles: Playstation 5 & Playstation 5 Digital Edition

 

The leader of the past console generation is hoping to bring the success of its last console to this new generation. Over 100 million PS4 units were sold between 2013 and 2019, so it could be a monumental task to achieve those numbers a second time around. This generation, Sony is hoping to edge out Xbox again with its sweet exclusives like Uncharted, The Last of Us and God of War. The exclusives game that the console giants were playing between the Xbox One and PS4 was arguably  won by Sony. Microsoft simply did not cough up enough cash to secure the exclusives that the PS4 was offering.

While the exclusives could be enough to sway people from an Xbox to a PS4, the issue of backwards compatibility could be troublesome for Sony.  Playstation CEO, Jim Ryan, commented that there will be “[an] overwhelming majority of the 4,000+ PS4 games” on PS5. While this does allow players access to their favorite games from the PS4, it does not present the games from beyond the last generation. Games from later consoles would have to be added to the Playstation Now subscription service. The game service from Playstation has nearly 600 games available at any given time. While that sounds like a lot, most of these games are older and not the most current in Sony’s line up.

While both consoles that Sony is offering on November 12th are great, the Microsoft team is leading in the raw power department. While the PS5 lacks in the power in comparison to the Series X, the capabilities of the new solid state drive (SSD) should not be understated. In the last generation PS4, 1 GB could be loaded in 20 seconds. The new SSD can load 2 GB in .27 seconds, which is quite the upgrade from the hardrives of years before. Could the lack of power, but faster load times, be enough to outsell the Series X? Playstation seems to think so. “We’re not saying it’s perfect, but it’s our approach. We like it,” Ryan went on to say. The PS5 will launch on November 12th at $499 for the PS5 and $399 for the Digital Edition.

 

Microsoft: 

Value: $1.32 trillion

Cash on hand: $136.52 Billion

Xbox Ones sold: ~50 million

Xbox Live monthly users: 90 million

Companies owned: 225

Xbox Game Pass monthly users: 15 million

New Consoles: Xbox Series X & Xbox Series S

 

It is safe to say that Microsoft is coming out of the gates very strong this generation. The launch of the Xbox One back in 2013 was a unilateral flop. Microsoft had tried to market the Xbox as a media console, rather than a pure gaming console. This set the stage for the entire generation and Xbox never fully recovered. While Xbox never released the number of consoles sold, it is estimated that the number is around 50 million; this is less than half of what Sony managed in the same period. After a hand off of leadership from Jason Holtman, who had held the position for six months, to Phil Spencer, the ship had begun to turn around. The damage had already been done for the Xbox One generation; the Microsoft team knew they had to get the next one just right.

In 2017, Xbox launched its “Netflix for video games” service, Xbox Game Pass. Game Pass was the answer that Xbox was looking for when it came to bringing back players they had lost at launch. “Game Pass members are also playing twice as much and engaging in more multiplayer gaming, which has increased by 130 percent,” Spencer said in an interview with The Verge. Users of the service grew by five million members between April and September of 2020, growing to a staggering 15 million monthly users. Game Pass has over 100 games available, with games being released every month. While the sheer number of games may be lower than Playstation Now, Xbox is releasing newer games compared to the years old games released on Playstation; first-party titles are being placed on the service the same day they are brought to retail.

Xbox has also committed to full backwards compatibility of Xbox One games and the Series X. In contrast, Playstation wants to commit to the traditional “there is one generation and there is a generation after” approach. This means that a limited number of PS4 games will be able to be played on the PS5 without having to buy the game for a second time. Xbox wants to blur the line between generations by bringing full compatibility of games between the Xbox One and Series X. Xbox Games Studios head, Matt Booty, stated, “we want to make sure that if someone invests in Xbox between now and [Series X] that they feel that they made a good investment and that we’re committed to them with content.” In addition to expanding their Game Pass service, Xbox has been buying dozens of publishers and bringing them under the Xbox Game Studios umbrella. Their most recent acquisition of Zenimax Media for $7.5 billion has been their biggest yet. It’s safe to say that Microsoft is not messing around with exclusives this generation. Their 23 first part publishers are surely getting ready for the launch of the new console and using every bit of power it has to offer.

Microsoft has not been quiet when it comes to the power difference between the PS5 and Series X. PS5 has the upper hand when it comes to load times, essentially getting rid of loading screens all together. The Series X has slightly better graphical performance and higher internal storage for the massive games that need to be downloaded. Xbox also has a smaller and cheaper console that will release alongside the Series X, the Series S. The console will remove the disc drive, much like the Digital Edition from Sony, and will not have the same performance numbers as its more powerful brother. Spencer explained the reasoning behind releasing a less powerful console, “I think 8K is aspirational technology,” Spencer says. “The display capabilities of devices are not really there yet. I think we’re years away from 8K being – if it ever is – standard in video games.” The cheaper console is aimed at players who do not own a 4k television while still bringing the next generation performance to lower resolution televisions. The new consoles from Xbox will be released on November 10th at $499 for the Series X and $299 for the Series S.

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