There’s been a lot of hype surrounding the PS5/Xbox Series X launches over the last 6-12 months, and it’s bound to ramp up as we inch closer to release. Whilst we still don’t have clear release dates or prices, there’s a lot of chatter about launch lineups both for consoles. With the announcement of Halo Infinite’s delay earlier this week, paired with the fact that Sony is opting for a smaller, standalone adventure in Spider-Man: Miles Morales, I asked myself the question, do launch titles even matter anymore?
The Xbox brand in particular has laid the foundation for a great platform in the last few years. Xbox Game Pass means that there’s going to be 100s of games to play on Xbox Series X on day one, with all of them running better. Whilst they might not all get getting Series X patches, which might bring things like real-time ray-tracing, improved frame-rates, and higher resolutions, they’re all going to benefit from much faster loading times (thanks to the SSD) and better performance. And the ability to swap between games on the fly.
Microsoft has done some tremendous work in the backwards compatibility front in recent years too. Not only will all Xbox One titles be playable, day one on the Xbox Series X, there’s also Xbox 360/Xbox games that will run better on your Xbox Series X. Sure, there’s no Halo Infinite, but that’ll come in the future. There’s really no reason why gamers should hold back based on a single title being missing. They’ll be taking their entire library with them in November if they make the next-gen jump.
No doubt Halo Infinite is a big name, but I’d argue that there’s a few even bigger games that still going to be there day one for Xbox Series X/PS5 owners. Cyberpunk 2077 (the most anticipated game of the year) and Assassin’s Creed Valhalla (a guaranteed seller) are both releasing in that middle part of November, meaning that you’re not going to be without having something to play on your shiny new consoles regardless.
Microsoft and Sony both know that the PS5 and Xbox Series X are going to sell out this holiday, with both the PlayStation and Xbox brands having significant user bases at this point. Sony in particular has already doubled production in order to meet demand for PS5’s first holiday and into the start of 2021. Both of these companies know at this point, that whilst it’s important to start strong, it’s more important to ensure that you’ve got a steady stream of games releasing in that first and second year of your console. Why not let third party publishers carry the launch load with titles such as NBA 2k21, Call Of Duty, Fortnite, FIFA 21 and Madden 21 (to name a few) all having massive audiences.
Whilst both consoles won’t have a lot at launch, they’ve both done a tremendous job at outlaying what the first 12-24 months looks like, which is something we rarely get to see before a console launches. The PS5 will have the likes of Horizon Forbidden West, Ratchet & Clank, Demon Souls and Gran Turismo 7 (just to name a few), whilst the Xbox Series X will have Forza Motorsport, Hellblade II, Everwild, Fable, State of Decay and Halo Infinite. It’s also worth mentioning that Microsoft is also more interested in building its franchises into ever-growing platforms, rather than iterations that release every few years. Xbox and PlayStation are also both relying on indie console exclusives to fill the gaps, and it doesn’t look like there will be a lack of them at any point during the launch window.
Both companies have a unique strategy that is more clear than ever going into the next generation of games. Microsoft is all about selling a service in Xbox Game Pass, and won’t discriminate based on where you want to play those games, whilst Sony wants to leave the last generation behind, and move forward with the PS5, which it believes can deliver experiences that weren’t possible on the PS4.
Microsoft is most likely prepared for a slower transition between generations, which wouldn’t bother them at all, because what matters to them most is the user staying subscribed to Xbox Game Pass and so far, they’ve done a great job at consistently providing big name games via the service. Sony, on the other hand, is looking like they won’t have a lot at launch from a first-party perspective either, but they know they have earned have the trust of gamers to deliver single-player, story driven experiences that can only be found on PlayStation consoles.
In what will probably turn out to be a more clever move (given development challenges in 2020), Sony has opted to rely on a smaller, standalone iteration of it’s best-selling first-party game of the generation with the release of Spider-Man: Miles Morales. In a similar fashion to the Xbox Series X, the PS5 has an insanely fast SSD that is going to instantly help things like load times, and the DualSense controller looks like it’s going to change things up quite dramatically, so the games you own and purchase prior to the release of the PS5, will instantly run better as well.
The big three have never had a more different and clearer approach to their console strategy and a launch lineup isn’t going to change that. You’re either all in with Xbox Game Pass (which is the best value for money in entertainment), can’t live without Sony’s exclusives (which will come even if not at launch) or just want a piece of Nintendo’s unpredictable zaniness.