When new consoles came out in November, the PlayStation 5 seemed like the clear-cut favorite. But the more time that passes, the more the Xbox Series X’s long-term value is coming into focus and making it this generation’s true must-have system.
That might come as a shock. Even in our own reviews of the new consoles, we initially felt that the Xbox Series X was a “sports car with no gas.” The system was clearly a technical powerhouse, but there simply wasn’t much to play on it when it came to games. The console had virtually no exclusive games at launch, meaning it couldn’t do much more than a good gaming PC.
By comparison, the PlayStation 5 launched with a lot of bells and whistles that made it a more appealing day-one toy. The DualSense provided a new way to play thanks to haptic feedback, the system’s unique card feature, and a genuine game of the year contender in Demon’s Souls. When writing about his first week with both consoles, Digital Trends writer Tom Caswell said, “I’m shocked with how little I even think about the Series X compared to my PS5, which I look forward to playing every single day.”
I fully agreed with that assessment in my first weeks, but the tides have slowly changed and the Series X is steadily becoming my primary gaming machine, even over my PC. The change of heart is due to the way the wider Microsoft ecosystem is unifying my gaming experiences.
As part of the move to a Series X, I upgraded my Game Pass subscription from PC-only to Ultimate. While I’d been fully on board with the service previously, having access to it on both console and PC unlocked its real potential. The added flexibility quickly became an important part of my gaming routine as I flipped between console and PC more than I realized I would. I was able to enjoy Call of the Sea on Series X with gorgeous detail and then flip to my PC to play Halo: The Master Chief Collection with friends without having to shift my audio setup to my couch.
When I unlock an achievement on my Series X, I see the same notification immediately pop up on my PC. If I take a screenshot in-game, I can open the Xbox app on my phone and quickly share it to Twitter without pausing a cutscene. On top of that, I’ve yet to utilize Microsoft’s cloud gaming service, which comes bundled with Game Pass Ultimate. Once it hits iOS next year, I can seriously see a world where I’d play a game on my Series X and take my save file on vacation.
That may sound extremely minor, and perhaps that’s true, but little details like that make the Series X feel more connected to different aspects of my gaming life. By comparison, the PS5 is an entirely solitary experience. Maybe that’s just because few of my friends have been able to find one yet, but there’s a weird loneliness to the system. It feels custom-built for individual experience and Sony’s emphasis on big single-player games certainly drives that home. The Series X is a far more social experience.
Of course, that’s largely dependent on how much a player buys into Microsoft’s full ecosystem. The Series X’s long term value grows exponentially with each device added to the mix. In that sense, PS5 may still have the advantage for players who simply want one box to rule them all.
The truth is that both systems serve a unique purpose and can easily coexist with one another. It’s becoming clearer as time goes on that Sony, Microsoft, and even Nintendo are presenting entirely different visions of how consoles play into our wider gaming routines. I’m booting up my PS5 less and less as my Series X takes precedence, but the experiences I’m having there feel entirely separate in the same way my Nintendo Wii did back in the day. The so-called console wars are truly dead and buried this generation.
All that said, the Series X feels like the central hub of my entertainment center at the moment. When I had to decide which console to make my streaming box, I naturally decided to add my logins to my Xbox. My PS5 is fully powered off, while my Series X remains in rest mode so I’m able to better utilize its lightning-fast quick reboot option. I’m playing less of my Game Pass games on PC and opting for the more reliable experience of playing on a powerful console.
Xbox Series X might not be the hot commodity as the perpetually sold-out PS5 is right now, but those scrambling to get Sony’s new console might want to consider jumping to Xbox. It doesn’t have the DualSense’s immediate toy factor, but it’s quickly making up for that with a long-term strategy that’s paying off more over time. If these consoles are going to be the focal point of our lives for the next decade, the Series X feels like the one that’s most prepared to keep up with the times.
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