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…
Everything announced at PlayStation’s January State of Play
The main character in Stellar Blade

Sony held its first State of Play presentation of 2024 today, giving us an overview of many of the games we can expect to release on PlayStation 5 and PlayStation VR2 over the course of the next year. The games shown off included single-player exclusives like Stellar Blade, Rise of the Ronin, a remake of Until Dawn, and Death Stranding 2. Konami also showed up to highlight two new Silent Hill games, one of which was shadow-dropped today.

Over 15 games were shown off during the January 2024 State of Play. In case you weren't able to tune into the show live or just want to see a comprehensive overview of what was shown, we've recapped every announcement made during this State of Play.

Read more
Stellar Blade looks like it’ll be the PS5’s first big 2024 game this April
Eve facing an enemy in Stellar Blade.

More details were shared about the world of PlayStation's upcoming character action game Stellar Blade during Sony's latest State of Play. We got a good look at more features in the title, including its mission and camping system. We finally got a release date too: Stellar Blade will launch on April 26 for PS5.

Stellar Blade takes place on a postapocalyptic Earth where an enemy, called the Nativa, pushed humans to escape to an off-world colony. Players control Eve, who is on a mission to save the planet by defeating the Nativa.

Read more
I made my own special-edition, Mario-themed PlayStation 5
A red and blue PS5 stands on a table with matching controllers.

While we can argue all day about which console is best, there's one PlayStation 5 feature that no other system can claim: customization. On the original PS5, players could easily snap off the system's faceplates and replace them with new ones. Sony would naturally keep that feature for its slimmer PS5 model, creating an entirely new line of console covers, starting with its Deep Earth Collection.

I didn't think much of that initially, considering that it was an expected feature. That is, until I turned my PS5 into my own custom, "special edition" Mario-themed console.

Read more