RF Generation.  The Classic and Modern Gaming Databases.RF Generation.  The Classic and Modern Gaming Databases.

Posted on Sep 4th 2020 at 08:00:00 AM by (zophar53)
Posted under New consoles, Sony, PlayStation, Microsoft, Xbox, console generations

The PlayStation: Futuristic Gaming Router Edition and the Xbox: Hulking Black Obelisk Edition

I've been gaming seriously for over 30 years now. In that time I've experienced six console generations. Looking back, every single time a new console was introduced, I would eat it up. I read every piece of news I could get my hands on and couldn't wait to take part in the gaming experiences a new game system would bring. I was one of the crazies who waited in line overnight for the notoriously scarce (at least at launch) PlayStation 2, and when the Wii was even more so in 2006, I'm not ashamed to admit that when an opportunity came to leverage my then-girlfriend's employment at Circuit City to snag one, I absolutely capitalized. Now that we're on the brink of yet another round of consoles, I'm finding myself pretty lukewarm on the whole thing.





Let's start with Microsoft. Their bungling of the launch of the Xbox One in 2013 was legendary. Don Mattrick's digitally-focused vision for the console was way ahead of its time, and was accompanied by such terrible messaging that Sony barely had to put in much effort to come out ahead. Since that time, Phil Spencer and the rest of the new guard at Xbox have put forth considerable effort into recruiting (or outright purchasing) new developers, shoehorning more user-friendly features into the Xbox platform, and proving they're paying attention to how people want to play video games in the 21st century.

Microsoft is hungry. They've learned from past mistakes and has the resources to create an ecosystem that makes their platform extremely exciting. By merging their PC business with the Xbox platform, pushing hard for things like cross-platform gaming, backwards compatibility, and now, cloud gaming, they want to make playing video games as easily-accessible as possible. And I gotta say, it's a darn good argument.

Microsoft's message is clear. They really don't care where you play anymore. If you're in their ecosystem, they'll get your money.

For Sony's part, they had a pretty easy win with the PS4 early on, but in the last half decade they haven't evolved much. Their backwards compatibility solutions have been scattershot, PlayStation Now pales in comparison to Xbox Game Pass, and now that we're at the end of this console generation, the Xbox One X consistently meets or beats the PS4 Pro in many performance metrics. In my opinion, the only thing the PS4 Pro has over Xbox One X is VR gaming.

Under normal circumstances, this would be the point where I come out and say that going Xbox is a no-brainer for me. Microsoft has made it easier to play games where it's most convenient for the player, whether it's on a PC, on an Xbox, or by subscribing to Xbox Game Pass. In an age where we're closer to a fully-digital gaming landscape than ever before, convenience is a huge selling point. But as we all know, we don't live in a normal world anymore.

The global pandemic has thrown everything into disarray. Supply chains are constrained, millions of people are out of work, and neither Sony nor Microsoft are willing to budge in their game of chicken regarding how much these new machines will cost. Popular opinion is that they'll both be $400-500 at minimum, and that we're only about two months out from their launch dates. On top of all that, the number of launch games seems incredibly thin. Halo Infinite has been delayed (which is probably the correct decision, to be fair) and Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart has a release date of "launch window," so there's no guarantee it'll be out before the end of the year. Absent those heavy hitters, I'm struggling to think of another big-ticket game from either company this year.

I got an email last week. It basically said if was a REALLY good customer, I could sign up to maybe get a chance to pre-order something that I don't even know the cost of yet. Oh man!

It's a little disappointing to say, but this new console generation has me less inspired than any other I can recall. There's just nothing about either the Xbox Series X or the PlayStation 5 that thrills me. At this point, I don't think I'll be getting either one until at least spring of 2021, and even then, for the first time in my life, I'm considering getting the all-digital versions. More and more lately, I'm finding myself annoyed at the idea of getting up off my couch to change discs just to play a different game. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love being able to look through a media rack at all the games I could play. But when it comes down to it, being able to switch from game to game without leaving my couch is glorious.

In addition, since getting a gaming PC a few years ago, I've been finding myself playing there more than I used to. So much that I'm losing sight of why I would spend $500-600 on a new console when I could put that money toward a new graphics card and have an even better experience. Between Microsoft's Game Pass and Sony's recent interest in porting their first party exclusives to PC, the justification for dropping over $1000 in 2020 for new consoles just isn't there for me, especially in today's economic climate. I've been all digital with my music collection for many years now. I still buy bluray movies, but since they all come with digital copies now, the physical discs rarely ever leave my shelf. Could the ninth console generation be the tipping point that pushes my gaming into the fully-digital realm as well? It feels weird, almost blasphemous, to say, but I'm no longer sure if I need a disc-based gaming option.

I've never more compelled to take the money I'd spend on a Series X and PS5 and just buy one of these beasts.

Ultimately, I don't know where I'll come down in all of this. It's entirely possible that by this time 2021 I'll have both a Series X and a PS5, because that's the kind of gamer I've always been. But I'm less sure of that than in years past, and it's also possible that if I go digital from here on out, I may be ok with that. So many games are multiplayer-centric nowadays, and even the ones that aren't depend heavily on internet connectivity and are downloaded to a console's hard drive anyway. I don't think I'll ever get rid of my games from console generations past, so if I ever crave to play physical media I can always dip into to my pile of shame. But if my game discs from this point on are basically nothing more than a manual form of DRM in an internet-connected future, having physical discs seems pretty pointless.

I'd be really curious to know what others' thoughts are on this. Do you still see value in owning physical discs in the eighth and ninth console generations? Is there anything about the new Xbox and PlayStation that excites you? If so, please convince me.


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Comments
 
Xbox going to PC is why I skipped their last console and will skip this one as well. If Sony continue to go down the PC path as well, then I don't see myself ever getting a PS5.
 
I'm the type of gamer who will play digital but always put physical first, to the point that I'd rather play my back catalog than go with a streaming or cloud-based gaming setup. Not to say that I wouldn't buy and play a digital only setup, but I wouldn't invest much in it.  The current gen has just enough to play from physical discs without internet that I still collect for them, but if the games for the new hardware all require updates to be playable, I'm with you that it just isn't worth holding on to and I'd only play casually and without the enthusiasm new systems once generated.

It will be interesting for collectors to see what Nintendo does with the Switch successor...
 
@slackur: I agree that the Switch is the outlier in the console trio. Nintendo has been playing by their own rules for so long now that basically in a whole other realm. Even if my enthusiasm for the Xbox Series X and PS5 wane, I'm sure I'll still be on board with whatever Nintendo does. In terms of collectibility, they're basiclally leaning into it. They're digital strategy is maddeningly random, but between the mini consoles and all the Switch re-releases of previous games, I'm finding that the Switch has been one of my favorite consoles to collect for in years.
 
I've flipped-flopped quite a bit over the years between being primarily a console or PC gamer, but I'm thinking I'll be leaning heavily into PC gaming with this new generation. With MS putting most (all?) Xbox games on PC going forward, I really see no reason to purchase another Xbox if I already have a gaming PC. Hell, the only reason I still have my Xbox One X is for the backwards compatibility. Sony seems to be following suit, so I'm definitely holding off on a PS5 until some killer app comes along that is actually console-exclusive.

I've already upgraded my PC's aging CPU to something pretty beastly. I'm tempted to get one of these new Nvidia GPUs that are coming out, but I currently have a 1070 which is still a pretty decent card for now, so we'll see.

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