As a largely PC based gamer, I’ve been cautiously optimistic about the next generation of consoles. The exclusives that were announced earlier this year piqued my interest, but I figured if they were any good eventually they would come around to PC. Then last week’s slew of announcements by Microsoft made buying an Xbox Series S an investment I began to actually consider. And finally Sony’s PlayStation Showcase came along this week, serving as a stark reminder of what their console has to offer: exclusives. At the end of Wednesday, with a more complete knowledge of the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series, I became utterly convinced of both consoles.
Until last week, there was no place in my life where an Xbox console seemed to fit. I was interested in Xbox Game Pass, but I could never justify the subscription price. Microsoft said earlier in the year that they didn’t consider Sony to be a main competitor anymore, and now it seems like this statement is more accurate than it initially let on. With the Xbox Series and Game Pass bundle, Xbox All Access, Microsoft has essentially created a cable box / Netflix combo for videogames. With the price between the Xbox All Access and Game Pass itself being so close, there really is no point in not getting the new console. Microsoft has created a way to play the latest games—on both console and PC—with an offer too good to pass up.
The PlayStation 5 was always a “definitely” in my mind. But Microsoft’s announcement last week had me second guessing if the PlayStation 5 was the one I truly wanted to pick up. Sony’s PlayStation 5 Showcase on Wednesday reaffirmed the console to me with its strong showing of exclusive titles. The PlayStation 4’s exclusives lived up to their hype, and there’s no reason not to expect the same of the new generation’s lineup. Plus those same PlayStation 4 exclusives that cemented the old console’s legacy are going to be available on the new console on launch day, rolled into PlayStation Plus. As a stubborn PC player who has waited 5 years to play a port of Bloodborne, the PlayStation 5 is offering me a way to play it and all the other games I missed out on from the last generation.
That being said, the question of affordability in the long run has also been lodged in my mind. This is the first generation of consoles where I have enough of an income to pretend I can afford a console on launch, but it may also be the last. After the PlayStation 5 Showcase, preorders for full-price PlayStation 5 games went live for $70. While $10 isn’t a massive price jump for a new game, videogames have long been overdue for a price increase and this may not be the last for the next generation. Microsoft’s introduction of a payment plan based console purchase also suggests that they are trying to ease players into a pricier gaming experience by lowering the appearance of the sticker price. Consoles could go the way of smartphones, with monthly payment plans being the norm, and individual videogames being too pricey for the average gamer. But for now, the prices are still sensible enough for me to keep pretending.
We are seeing two radically different approaches to the next generation of consoles, one old and familiar, and one that bucks industry standards. But these varied console strategies have made both consoles different enough to justify owning both. Microsoft is giving players access to a huge library of games for both their new console and PC at an affordable rate, and Sony is bringing an impressive lineup of exclusives—both new and old—to their console. Both next gen consoles put up strong showings, shattering my expectations and forcing me to drop the “cautiously” from my optimism.
Nicolas Perez is an editorial intern at Paste and opinion co-editor for New University. He’s rambling on Twitter @Nic_Perez_.