Series X vs PS5: Xbox needs to make the most of Sony blunders by bringing out game reveals

Heidi Nicholas - March 21st 2020

The Holiday 2020 release date for Microsoft's Xbox Series X and Sony's PlayStation 5 is drawing nearer. Now that the dust has settled from Sony's reveal of the PS5 specs, enabling an Xbox Series X vs PS5 comparison, the gaming community is turning its attention to how each next-gen console will really be differentiated from the other. So far, Xbox has led the next-gen reveals in terms of open and prompt communication with fans: they've shown the specs and loading times, along with the console itself and its new controller, all with concise and clear marketing. However, Sony still holds the advantage in terms of exclusives, and could push forwards just by dropping a trailer for a sequel to Spider-Man or God of War. To keep their current advantage, Xbox needs to push ahead with game reveals of their own.

Xbox has handled communication about the Xbox Series X very well. Reveals of features and specifications have all been packaged in a digestible format, and even when the memes of an Xbox Series X fridge began to circulate, Microsoft joined in on that too. In contrast, Sony's Road to PS5 stream was confusedly done. Sony were already behind hand, having yet to reveal anything about the PS5 other than its logo, and most fans were hoping to see a reveal of the console in the video. The lead system architect for the PS5, Mark Cerny, did provide a lot of detailed information, but it wasn't nearly so effectively delivered. The information could have been given in a written post or update; a livestream would have been more fitting if they'd actually shown the console on it. As it was, since this was the first piece of info Sony were offering about the PS5, and since it was billed as a livestream, it seems fans were expecting more from it. Cerny's comments about the backwards compatibilty of the PS5 were also a little baffling, leading to confusion over how many games would be ready to play on the PS5. Xbox, on the other hand, has already assured fans that they can play anything from the Xbox One.

However, Sony has the upper hand with games and exclusives. The Xbox Series X specs are better, but some of the exclusives which Sony has the power to release — such as a sequel to Marvel's Spider-Man or God of War — could be more than enough to convince players to pick up a PS5, and just running a trailer for either of these would boost PS5 hype right back to the top. Microsoft doesn't have this sort of advantage — yet. Halo Infinite is a solid title, but it's more appealing to players who are already established fans of the franchise. But the excitement that met Xbox's reveal of Senua's Saga: Hellblade II, with a cinematic trailer captured on the Xbox Series X, shows how much room for excitement there is with Xbox exclusives. If Xbox were to reveal Fable 4, or whatever "AAAA" studio The Initiative are working on, or inXile Entertainment's AAA project, or Obsidian or Ninja Theory's plans, or even a full trailer for Hellblade 2; they'd be able to capitalise on the advantage that their effective and transparent communication has given them.

Ultimately, it doesn't seem to boil down to which console is the more powerful. If Sony continues with the upper hand in exclusives, then that'll probably sway preference for a number of gamers, especially if they already own a PS4 and are therefore invested in PlayStation's community and franchise. But Xbox are in a stronger position than ever before. Phil Spencer's comments from an interview with The Verge show how Xbox has learned and adapted from past mistakes. The Xbox One was more expensive and less powerful, according to Spencer's comments; now, the Xbox Series X appears more powerful, and he's already mentioned that they won't be making any blunder with the pricing this time. They've established the Xbox Series X with clear and concise communication, and with open transparency. If they were to combine this with even one reveal for a spectacular Xbox exclusive, it could be enough to turn the tide for the next generation.