Skip to main content

Sony prepares for war with PlayStation 5 showcase

Sony made one thing very clear during its showcase Wednesday afternoon: It has no intention of ceding any ground to Microsoft, no matter what the Xbox Series S costs.

The event gave players nearly everything they’ve wanted to know — launch date, launch prices, and a better look at what games would be available in the launch window. A blog entry from the company filled in some of the blanks, such as when pre-orders would go live and which first-party titles would be available on Day One.

The fight for customers that’s coming with the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X and Series S is going to reignite the console war in a way gamers haven’t seen since in the last 15 years. And the most recent Sony Showcase laid out the different ways the two companies plan to woo gamers. Both have merits, which is going to make this a fun battle to watch.

Exclusives vs. developers

Sony and Microsoft have both been throwing a ridiculous amount of money around in preparation for their system launches. And it’s now becoming clear where they’ve been spending it.

Microsoft is betting on the long term, spending the better part of the past couple of years buying up development studios. The thinking there is the exclusives they get from those game makers will pay dividends far into the future. Sony, meanwhile, is paying big third-party publishers for exclusivity on upcoming big games. And it unveiled a few giant ones Wednesday: Final Fantasy XVI and Deathloop. (That is, of course, in addition to the exclusives from its own internal studios.)

Microsoft’s strategy can pay off big, but it carries risks. EA, for example, has bought several smaller developers throughout its history, only to eventually shut them down as they failed to deliver blockbuster games. And Microsoft’s purchase of some major studios hasn’t lived up to expectations. (Rare, for instance, hasn’t created a true blockbuster in the 18 years since it was bought.)

Exclusive games are usually only exclusive for a period of time, though. And both Final Fantasy XVI and Deathloop will have PC versions, though console sales typically dwarf PC numbers when the game is released on both platforms.

Value vs. must-have games

There’s no doubt that Sony has the stronger lineup of launch titles. Spider-Man: Miles Morales looked especially strong, and Demon’s Souls, while it was the slowest part of the showcase, will excite many players. Meanwhile, the teaser for a new God of War next year shows the company is all set for the Halo Infinite threat.

There’s nothing wrong with having an embarrassment of riches on Day One — and a strong lineup of games in the following months. But every one of those games is an additional expense for players. With many of those titles bumping their price to $70, it could be cost-prohibitive for some players.

Microsoft’s lower-priced “entry” console – the Series S – and Xbox Game Pass (with xCloud) don’t have the firepower of Sony’s lineup right now and lack that new console smell, but for people who are trying to watch their spending in the pandemic, that could be appealing.

Streaming vs. a free “best of” catalog

Sony didn’t match Game Pass, but it did unveil what many consider the next best thing — and some might think wit as even better.

PlayStation Plus customers will be able to download a cornucopia of hit PS4 games, including Batman: Arkham Knight, Bloodborne, Fallout 4, God of War, and more. It’s a move that can blunt Microsoft’s value argument. The question then becomes one of convenience. Will audiences embrace streaming — and instant loading — or will they be OK downloading titles (and sacrificing the time and disc space required)? The answer to that question might evolve the further into this generation we get.

Sony wants a fight

So much for friendly competitors. Sony’s decision to launch within two days of the Xbox Series X shows they’re ready to throw down — and denies the Series X much solo time in the spotlight.

That decision, admittedly, could also have been influenced some by the pandemic, since Black Friday is essentially being canceled this year. Consumers will be ordering online as they start their holiday shopping — and spending less time in physical retailers. While it might have been a goal to have people lined up outside of stores in previous console launches, neither Sony nor Microsoft want their system launches to be pointed to as super-spreader events.

They definitely want to beat each other, though. Sony’s looking to protect its profit center, while Microsoft is more than ready to reclaim the “king of the mountain” crown it lost this generation. They might be putting together different battle plans, but both companies settle in for a prolonged fight.

Editors' Recommendations

Chris Morris
Chris Morris has covered consumer technology and the video game industry since 1996, offering analysis of news and trends and…
Final Fantasy XVI’s first 3 hours play like a high fantasy Last of Us
Joshua speaks to Clive in Final Fantasy XVI.

When I demoed Final Fantasy XVI back in February, I had some questions. The slice I played was very much focused on the upcoming PS5 release’s combat system. I was immediately impressed with how fast and furious it was, bringing a bit of Devil May Cry to the RPG series. That said, there was quite a bit I didn’t see. The story mission I played would only give me a brief introduction to its hero, Clive Rosfield, and the war-torn nation in which the game takes place. I was itching to know more.

I’d get all those lingering questions answered when I went hands-on with the first three hours of the game, which launches on June 22. Rather than letting me test out an arsenal of spells, I’d start with a much less capable Clive with only a few attacks to his name. I’d get to see his full tragic backstory play out through long cinematics with only a few smaller gameplay snippets between. I’d leave my demo session with far fewer question marks, a bit more intrigue, and a couple of lingering concerns that could be alleviated later in the adventure.

Read more
Humanity is the best PS5 (and PSVR2) game I’ve played so far
Humans jump over a gap in Humanity.

Over the past few years, I’ve found myself mourning the PlayStation brand I grew up with. When I was a kid, PlayStation was an eccentric platform home to the kind of oddball creative swings you now only ever see indie publishers take a chance on. In the PS5 era, though, Sony has doubled down on a cinematic action-adventure formula that feels less safe (though likely way more profitable) by comparison. It’s an understandable pivot, but it leaves me hungry for more diverse experiences on my PS5.

Thankfully, that desire has been satiated with Humanity, a game that’s already nabbing several impressive accolades from me. It’s the best reason to subscribe to PS Plus, the best game currently available on PlayStation VR2, and perhaps the best PS5 console-exclusive period (it’s also available on PC via Steam). The unique puzzler has all the markings of those left-field PlayStation classics I love … except for the fact it wasn’t developed or published by Sony at all.

Read more
PlayStation reveals new features and UI for its PS5 Access Controller
Sony's Project Leonardo controller sits on a table.

Sony revealed new details about its PlayStation 5 accessibility controller, which has been renamed from Project Leonardo to the Access Controller. A new blog post details what comes with the controller and offers a glimpse at the UI interface that players will use to customize it on the PS5.

Sony surprise revealed its "Project Leonardo" at CES earlier this year (Digital Trends named it the best gaming tech of the show). The circular pad features a unique design meant to make it easier for people with disabilities to customize controls to their needs. While it still doesn't have a price or release date, Sony has opened a new website for its newly renamed Access Controller and shared new details on it.

Read more