The different strategies of Microsoft and Sony’s next-generation consoles

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The different strategies of Microsoft and Sony’s next-generation consoles

We’re just days away from the next generation of console gaming with the upcoming release of the Xbox Series X / S and the PlayStation 5. And now that we’re so close to those launches, we have a pretty good idea of how both companies are approaching this next generation.

Microsoft is building toward a future where the hardware you’re playing on almost doesn’t matter. If you want to play an Xbox game, Microsoft is trying to make that possible on many different devices. Sony, by contrast, is sticking with a more traditional approach with the PS5, where you can only play exclusive PS5 games on the console itself. But at launch, both companies are leaning heavily on the libraries of older generations to round out the first few months of their lineups.

It should be an exciting new generation. Here’s what we know about Microsoft and Sony’s strategies.

Microsoft Series X / S

You’ll first be able to get your hands on Microsoft’s newest consoles, the $499 Xbox Series X and the slightly less powerful $299 Xbox Series S, when they launch on November 10th. There’s no marquee launch title — that was supposed to be Halo Infinite until it was delayed to 2021.

But that doesn’t mean you won’t have a lot to play on day one. The Series X will be backward compatible with a hugeamount of the Xbox back catalog, and you’ll also have access to more than 100 titles if you subscribe to Xbox Game Pass. That ability to play a whole lot of Xbox games, whether you already own them or are paying Microsoft a monthly fee for the privilege of doing so, is key to Microsoft’s approach with its new Xbox consoles.

Let’s talk first about backwards compatibility. If you still own a bunch of Xbox One games, they should work on the new consoles unless they required Kinect. And the Xbox Series X and Series S will also support backward-compatible Xbox 360 and original Xbox games. That alone gives you a huge potential library of games that you can play, and Microsoft has a list of every backward-compatible game right here.

Backward compatible games will run natively on the new consoles, which means that they can take advantage of their more powerful hardware for faster load times, Microsoft’s new Auto HDR feature, and more. In his testing, my colleague Tom Warren found that a preview version of the Series X loaded most games much quicker than his Xbox One X.

And many games are getting patches or updates to take advantage of the new hardware in the upcoming consoles. On launch day, a number of older games will have optimizations for Series X and Series S, including Gears 5, Forza Horizon 4, and Sea of Thieves. Meanwhile, Halo: The Master Chief Collection will get an update on November 17th, just one week after the new consoles launch, that adds 120fps in both campaign and multiplayer modes, among other updates.

You’ll also be able to play through any of the more than 100 games that are available on Xbox Game Pass, Microsoft’s game subscription service. And the value of that subscription will only go up over time, as the full versions of all upcoming first-party games will hit the service on their release date. With some developers pushing the price of a game to $69.99 for this next console generation, having access to brand-new games for a $9.99 or $14.99 monthly subscription is a bargain by comparison.

And an Xbox Game Pass subscription will get even sweeter with Microsoft’s acquisition of Bethesda Softworks parent company ZeniMax Media. The acquisition means that Microsoft now owns huge franchises like Doom, The Elder Scrolls, and Fallout, and any new entry from those franchises will be available to Game Pass subscribers on day one. And current Bethesda games will be added to Game Pass over time, according to Xbox chief Phil Spencer.

A $14.99 per month Game Pass Ultimate subscription also includes access to Microsoft’s cloud gaming service, known as xCloud. Right now, xCloud only lets you stream compatible Xbox games to an Android device, meaning that you can essentially play Xbox games wherever you take your Android phone (assuming that you have a Wi-Fi or cellular connection that’s capable of handling it). Some games even have touch controls, meaning that you don’t need an Xbox controller to play them on the cloud gaming service.

xCloud will be available on Windows PC at some point next year, and a web app for iOS is supposed to launch in early 2021. There’s another way to play your Xbox games on your phone, too — Microsoft offers a remote play feature to let you stream games from your own console to your Android or iOS device.

Xbox Game Pass Ultimate will also include games on EA Play starting on November 10th, which means that you play a number of EA’s biggest titles without paying for a separate subscription.

And if you aren’t planning to upgrade to Microsoft’s next-gen consoles quite yet, some Xbox One titles will support Microsoft’s Smart Delivery program, which lets you upgrade an Xbox One version of a cross-gen game to its Xbox Series X version for free.

Sony’s PlayStation 5

Sony’s PlayStation 5 will be available on November 12th, just two days after the Xbox Series X and Series S. While Microsoft is focused on letting you play games from the entire Xbox family of consoles wherever you want to play them, Sony seems to be focused more on selling you next-gen games to play on its next-gen console.

The company arguably has a stronger launch lineup than Microsoft’s new consoles, with the Demon’s Souls remake and Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales as highlights, not to mention the bundled Astro’s Playroom, which serves as an ideal showcase for the new DualSense controller. And we also already know about some promising first-party titles scheduled for 2021, including Horizon Zero Dawn sequel Horizon Forbidden West and a sequel to God of War. (Microsoft has announced some intriguing first-party titles as well, including a new Fable game, but many of those games don’t have release windows yet.)

That new DualSense controller is a key part of Sony’s strategy, too. It has haptic feedback and adaptive triggers intended to immerse you more in your games, and early signs show that they can change the way games feel. Sony will undoubtedly integrate the controller’s new features with its first-party PS5 titles, but third-party games like NBA 2K21 and Fortnite have DualSense-exclusive features as well. The controller helps further that idea of exclusives: if developers support the DualSense, they’re offering an experience you can’t get on any other console.

Sony’s promise to deliver big games from its beloved franchises in the future is similar to how it approached the PS4. You could make the case that the PS4 had a limited set of launch titles — Killzone Shadow Fall was the most notable Sony exclusive — but the day before the PS4 was released, Sony revealed what would become Uncharted 4 and gave a release date for Infamous: Second Son. And over the life span of the PS4, Sony’s strategy to continually roll out big exclusive games worked out very well. Uncharted 4 was a huge success, as were titles like Marvel’s Spider-Man, Bloodborne, and The Last of Us Part II. All of Sony’s big exclusive hits were major reasons why the PS4 was the fastest home console to reach 100 million unit sales.

But Sony isn’t completely abandoning the PS4 just yet. Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales was announced first for the PS5, but we learned in September that there will be a PS4 version as well. Horizon Forbidden West is coming to PS4, too.

And Sony is putting a bit more focus on cross-gen gaming this generation, as the PS5 is backward-compatible with more than 4,000 PS4 titles. (Certain games “may exhibit errors,” according to the company, though only 10 games won’t work at all.) “Select” PS4 and PSVR games will also get “faster and smoother frame rates.” Ghost of Tsushima, for example, will run at up to 60fps and have faster load times on PS5, according to developer Sucker Punch.

Sony will also offer a new game subscription service for the PS5 called the PlayStation Plus Collection. It allows paying Plus users to play any of the 20 PS4 games that are part of the collection on their PS5, including hits like God of War, Persona 5, and Bloodborne. But that’s a far more limited library than Xbox Game Pass, which lets you play games from multiple generations and has first-party games available on day one.

Sony has said that PlayStation Now, its game subscription service with PS4, PS3, and PS2 games, will be coming to PS5 at some point, but we don’t have a timeline for when that might happen. And the PS5 won’t natively support PS1, PS2, or PS3 games, so you’ll need to keep an older PlayStation console around if you want to play those.

If you’re not planning to upgrade immediately to the PS5, you’ll have some options if you eventually want to get a next-gen experience for games you play first on PS4. Some PS4 games can be upgraded to a digital PS5 version — though that will be at the developers’ discretion, and developers can decide whether that upgrade is free, paid, or only available for a limited time.

And similar to Microsoft, Sony also offers remote play functionality for PS5, though your options with Sony allow you to stream PS5 games to a PC and Mac in addition to Android and iOS.

An exciting new generation of console gaming begins soon

Picking between the next Xbox or PlayStation will be less about hardware and more about Microsoft’s and Sony’s philosophies about this generation of console games. With the Xbox Series X and S, you’ll have access to a lot of older games at launch, but we have to wait and see if actual next-gen games will make a convincing case to upgrade. Meanwhile, Sony is betting on an exclusives-focused strategy for the PS5 that worked well with the PS4, but that will only work out if Sony releases exclusives that are worth buying a PS5 to play.

In the past, choosing between a console meant comparing specs and analyzing release calendars. This time, the choice is much more philosophical.

Published at Wed, 04 Nov 2020 13:00:00 +0000

Here’s every game coming to PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X at launch and beyond

Gaming technology improves with every new generation of hardware, but that’s not always apparent on launch day. Typically, new consoles are coupled with a lackluster slate of launch games, with developers needing time to fully take advantage of the new hardware. While there are some standout launch titles that will always be remembered — Tetris on the Game Boy, Halo on the original Xbox, and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on the Switch — very few consoles ever arrive with more than one or perhaps two games worthy of being called system-sellers.

That’s looking to remain largely true with the launch of Sony’s PlayStation 5 and Microsoft’s Xbox Series X / S next week, despite the excellent-looking Tetris Effect: Connected port, the all-new Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, and the Demon’s Souls remake, to name a few. But there’s one upside here that can’t be ignored: this is the first time in modern console history that you’ll be able to take your existing library, be it physical or digital, and bring it with you to a new platform.

That gives consumers unprecedented freedom in deciding where they want to play and what performance benefits are worthwhile enough to upgrade. And technologies like cross-platform play and now even cross-generation support will allow people that don’t upgrade to continue playing with their friends.

Yes, both consoles are arriving within days of another, seven years after the last generation of console hardware, and both have only a small handful of games that can be called truly next-gen experiences. Most are simply remasters or cross-generation titles with minor performance bumps. The minor good news is that there are quite a few big-name franchise releases to help fill the gap. Call of Duty is an obvious one, with Black Ops Cold War arriving the same week the new consoles launch. The same is true of the new Assassin’s Creed Valhalla.

But the much better news is that — besides 4K and the solid-state drives and other spec changes — Microsoft and Sony have pledged to support close to every title in the existing console platforms’ libraries. Every Xbox, Xbox 360, and Xbox One game currently playable on existing Xbox One hardware (minus Kinect games) will be playable on the Series X / S, while Sony has committed to supporting a “vast majority” of PS4 games totaling more than 4,000 titles.

This changes the calculus a bit with regard to buying a new console. No longer do you have to abandon what you were playing on your old device and start anew. And thanks to some genuinely consumer-friendly initiatives like Xbox Smart Delivery and similar upgrade programs, plenty of the games we own now or are planning to buy in the next couple of months will not only work on the new platforms, but in most cases, they’ll also come with free upgrades from the standard PS4 and Xbox One versions. Sony is also introducing the PlayStation Plus Collection, a library of PS4 games available for free with its online subscription.

That leaves us with one big issue: how do you know what new games are coming out for which platforms and when? There’s also the painstaking process of parsing whether a game company is giving out a free next-gen upgrade of a cross-gen title, charging a little extra, or releasing a next-gen-only game.

We’ve compiled an exhaustive list detailing the launch slates of both new console platforms on day one as well as what’s coming out this holiday season and beyond in 2021.

When the Xbox Series X launches on November 10th, it will have 30 fully optimized titles that will technically qualify as launch games. The PS5 will launch two days later on November 12th, and it will have 20 games. (This includes only fully optimized games and not what’s simply supported via backwards compatibility.The list also excludes games like Sony’s Ghost of Tsushima that may receive benefits from next-gen hardware but are still not fully optimized.)

Here’s a list of every day-one game available on both systems, notably excluding titles like Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War that launch shortly after launch day and will not be available by November 12th. Also, some games are noted as console exclusives despite having released on other platforms like the Nintendo Switch in the previous generation; we’re only focusing on whether a game is exclusive to either the PS5 or Xbox Series X / S, and timed console exclusives are treated the same as first-party permanent exclusives until a publisher or developer has a concrete cross-platform release date to share.

PS5 & Xbox Series X/S launch games

Game Xbox Series or PS5? Cross-gen upgrade? Other platforms? PC?
Game Xbox Series or PS5? Cross-gen upgrade? Other platforms? PC?
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla Both Free PS4, XB1, Stadia Yes
Astro’s Playroom PS5 only No, PS5 exclusive No, PS5 exclusive No
Bugsnax PS5 only Free PS4 Yes
Borderlands 3 Both Free PS4, XB1, Stadia Yes
Bright Memory Xbox only No, Xbox exclusive No Yes
Cuisine Royale Both Free to play; no upgrade needed PS4, XB1 Yes
Demon’s Souls (remake) PS5 only No, PS5 exclusive Originally on PS3 No
Devil May Cry 5: Special Edition Both No upgrade path No No
DIRT 5 Both Free PS4, XB1 Yes
Enlisted Xbox only Yes, price TBD XB1 Yes
Evergate Xbox only Yes, price TBD PS4, XB1, Switch Yes
The Falconeer Xbox only Free XB1 Yes
Fortnite Both Free to play; no upgrade needed PS4, XB1, Switch, iOS Yes
Forza Horizon 4 Xbox only Free XB1 Yes
Gears 5 Xbox only Free XB1 Yes
Gears Tactics Xbox only Free XB1 Yes
Godfall PS5 only No, PS5 exclusive No, PS5 exclusive Yes
Grounded Xbox only Free XB1 Yes
King Oddball Optimized for Xbox Series TBD PS4, XB1, Android Yes
Maneater Both Free PS4, XB1, Switch Yes
Manifold Garden Xbox only Free PS4, XB1, Switch, iOS Yes
Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales PS5 only Free PS4 No
Marvel’s Spider-Man Remastered PS5 only No, PS5 exclusive No, PS5 exclusive No
NBA 2K21 Both Only with $99.99 Mamba Edition PS4, XB1, Switch, Stadia Yes
No Man’s Sky Both Free PS4, XB1 Yes
Observer: System Redux Both No upgrade path PS4, XB1, Switch Yes
Ori and the Will of the Wisps Xbox only Free XB1, Switch Yes
Overcooked: All You Can Eat PS5; Xbox coming later No announced upgrade path XB1 (coming later) No
Planet Coaster Both Free PS4, XB1 Yes
Sackboy: A Big Adventure PS5 only Free PS4 No
Sea of Thieves Xbox only Free XB1 Yes
Tetris Effect: Connected Xbox; PS5 coming 2021 Free Originally on PS4, Oculus Yes
The Pathless PS5 only Free PS4, Apple Arcade Yes
The Touryst Xbox only Free XB1, Switch Yes
War Thunder Xbox only Free PS4, XB1 Yes
Warhammer: Chaosbane Slayer Edition Both No announced upgrade path No, next-gen exclusive Yes
Watch Dogs: Legion Both; PS5 discs launch Nov. 24 Free PS4, XB1, Stadia Yes
WRC 9 FIA World Rally Championship Both Free PS4, XB1, Switch Yes
Yakuza: Like a Dragon Xbox; PS5 coming March 2 Free PS4, XB1 Yes
Yes, Your Grace Xbox only Free XB1, Switch Yes

The confirmed launch day lists only scratch the surface of the upcoming game libraries for the PS5 and Xbox Series X. In the weeks following release, dozens more games are on the way. And 2021 is packed full of new releases and full optimizations of cross-gen games that should further pad out what’s available to play on your new system of choice. We’ve compiled the list below to help you understand every game coming out during this year’s holiday season and what’s been confirmed so far for 2021.

This excludes games without release dates that may have been previously announced — like Elder Scrolls VI and the Fable reboot, for example — and games previously listed in the above chart. We’ve also chosen only to list release dates for games for which the publisher has chosen a concrete date with both day and month.

PS5 & Xbox Series X/S Holiday and 2021 Release Schedule

Game Release Date Xbox Series or PS5? Cross-gen? PC?
Game Release Date Xbox Series or PS5? Cross-gen? PC?
Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War 11/13/2020 Both Yes, $10 upgrade Yes
Halo: The Master Chief Collection 11/17/2020 Xbox only Yes, free upgrade Yes
Mortal Kombat 11 Ultimate Edition 11/17/2020 Both Yes, free upgrade Yes
Poker Club 11/19/2020 Both Yes Yes
Just Dance 2021 11/24/2020 Both Yes Yes
Haven 12/3/2020 PS5 only Yes Yes
Immortals Fenyx Rising 12/03/2020 Both Yes Yes
FIFA 21 12/4/2020 Both Yes, free upgrade Yes
Madden NFL 21 12/4/2020 Both Yes Yes
Destiny 2: Beyond Light 12/8/2020 Both Yes, free upgrade Yes
Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 12/8/2020 Both Yes Yes
Temtem 12/8/2020 PS5 first; Xbox and PC in 2021 Yes Yes
Cyberpunk 2077 12/10/2020 Both Yes, free upgrade Yes
Worms Rumble December 2020 PS5 only Yes Yes
12 Minutes 2020 Xbox only Yes Yes
Bridge Constructor: The Walking Dead 2020 Both Yes Yes
Call of the Sea 2020 Xbox only Yes Yes
Control: Ultimate Edition 2020 Both Yes, upgrade only with Ultimate Edition Yes
CrossfireX 2020 Xbox only Yes, free upgrade Yes
Dead by Daylight 2020 Both Yes, free upgrade Yes
For Honor 2020 Both Yes, free upgrade Yes
Mørkredd 2020 Xbox only Yes Yes
Sable 2020 Xbox only Yes Yes
Samurai Spirits (aka Samurai Shodown) 2020 Xbox only Yes Yes
Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege 2020 Both Yes, free upgrade Yes
Warframe 2020 Both Yes, free-to-play Yes
Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart PS5 “launch window” PS5 only No, PS5 exclusive No
Hitman 3 01/20/2021 Both Free upgrade from digital Yes
Werewolf: The Apocalypse – Earthblood 02/04/2021 Both Yes Yes
Little Nightmares 2 02/11/2021 Both Yes Yes
Outriders 02/21/2021 Both Yes Yes
Riders Republic 02/25/2021 Both Yes Yes
Destruction AllStars February 2021 PS5 only No, PS5 exclusive No
Balan Wonderworld 03/26/2021 Both Yes Yes
The Medium 12/10/2021 Xbox only Yes Yes
Braid: Anniversary Edition 2021 Both Yes Yes
Bright Memory Infinite 2021 Xbox only No, Xbox exclusive Yes
CYGNI: All Guns Blazing 2021 Both Yes Yes
Chivalry 2 2021 Both Yes Yes
Chorus 2021 Both Yes Yes
Cris Tales 2021 Both Yes Yes
Deathloop 2021 PS5 only No, PS5 exclusive Yes
Doom Eternal 2021 Both Yes, free upgrade Yes
Echo Generation 2021 Xbox only Yes Yes
Exomecha 2021 Xbox only Yes Yes
Far Cry 6 2021 Both Yes Yes
Ghostwire: Tokyo 2021 PS5 only TBD Yes
God of War: Ragnarok 2021 PS5 only TBD TBD
Goodbye Volcano High 2021 PS5 only Yes Yes
Gotham Knights 2021 Both Yes Yes
Grand Theft Auto V 2021 Both Yes Yes
Guilty Gear Strive 2021 PS5 only Yes Yes
Halo Infinite 2021 Xbox only Yes Yes
Heavenly Bodies 2021 PS5 only Yes Yes
Hello Neighbor 2 2021 Xbox only Yes Yes
Hogwarts Legacy 2021 Both Yes Yes
Horizon Forbidden West 2021 PS5 only Yes TBD
Hood: Outlaws and Legends 2021 Both Yes Yes
Kena: Bridge of Spirits 2021 PS5 only Yes Yes
Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga 2021 Both Yes Yes
Marvel’s Avengers 2021 Both Yes, free upgrade Yes
Psychonauts 2 2021 Xbox only Yes Yes
Resident Evil Village 2021 Both Yes Yes
Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II 2021 Xbox only TBD Yes
Sherlock Holmes: Chapter One 2021 Both Yes Yes
Solar Ash 2021 PS5 only Yes Yes
Stray 2021 PS5 only Yes Yes
Subnautica / Subnautica: Below Zero 2021 Both Yes, free upgrade Yes
The Ascent 2021 Xbox only Yes, free upgrade Yes
The Elder Scrolls Online 2021 Both Yes Yes
The Gunk 2021 Both Yes Yes
The Lord of the Rings: Gollum 2021 Xbox only Yes Yes
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt 2021 Both Yes, free upgrade Yes
Tribes of Midgard 2021 PS5 only Yes Yes
Unlimited Fishing Simulator 2 2021 Both Yes Yes
Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2 2021 Both Yes Yes
Vampire: The Masquerade – Swansong 2021 Both Yes Yes
War Mongrels 2021 Both Yes Yes
Warhammer 40,000: Darktide 2021 Xbox only TBD Yes
Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League 2022 Both TBD Yes

Published at Wed, 04 Nov 2020 13:00:00 +0000

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